Traditional Dance in the Philippines

The Philippines is located at the eastern end of Asia and has the reputation of Thousand Island Country. It has a long history and cultural tradition. From 1521 to 1896, it was under Spanish colonial rule, which made a considerable part of the dance art have a clear Spanish color, and some were integrated with national traditions.


However, in remote places, such as the northern mountainous area and southern Muslim settlements of Luzon and some small islands, indigenous folk dances still remain. Filipino dance can be divided into 4 categories.


1. Country Dance

Country dance is the most representative folk dance in the Philippines, and it is also a dance that has been processed independently. This kind of dance blends foreign styles with national styles, and has a strong atmosphere of life. It shows the optimistic, enthusiastic, and bold character of the Filipino people who have endured hardship.





Country dances are deeply loved by the people and have been widely promoted. Famous village dances include Tinikling (bamboo pole dance), Pandango SaIlaw, Ltik-ltik (duck dance), Singkil, shrimp catching dance, bench dance, etc.


2. Northern Mountain Dance

The northern mountainous area is still a tribe of chiefs, who believe in polytheism, and singing and dancing are an indispensable part of people's lives. During rice planting, harvesting, weddings, dispelling disease and funeral activities, there are singing and dancing. In this dance, women are reserved and solemn, while men are mighty and powerful, reflecting the long-term tribulations of hard life.


Different tribes have similar dance movements, showing the consistency of cultural and religious beliefs. After processing and refining by professionals, they have created Banga, Lumagen, Salisid, Tachok, etc., which have all been put on the stage, attracting the audience with their strong local customs.


3. Muslim Dance in Southern Mindanao and Other Regions

The culture of this area belongs to the Malay cultural circle formed under the influence of Indian culture in the early AD. The local people mainly believe in Islam introduced in the 14th century, so the dance is also influenced by Islamic culture and has a strong religious color. In addition to folk dances, court dances are also preserved here.


The representative play is "Singkil", which is adapted from the royal epic and shows the prince's experience of searching for his wife. The dance is elegant and dignified, the performer's facial expressions are solemn, the eyes are lowered, and the emotions are embedded, showing the mystery of Islamic culture.





Other dances include Binasuan, Taga-Ummah, etc. Dances in this area focus on the movements of arms and fingers. The rhythm is flexible and delicate. The lower limbs are bent, the toes are upturned, and sometimes the hips are protruding to the sides, and the dance is curvilinear.


4. Spanish Style Dance

From rhythm to dance, it has the characteristics of cheerful and lively Spanish dance; but it is lighter and softer than Spanish dance. The performers are dressed in Filipino Spanish costumes and usually hold bamboo castanets. The main dances are Carinosa, Maglalatik and so on.


There are several other ethnical dances in the Philippines, such as the indigenous black religious dances in the mountainous areas of Bataan, Zambales and Tarlak, and pantomime dances of potato dance and bee dance that are full of life fun. The non-Muslim diaspora in Mindanao and the Sulu Islands also has its own indigenous dance.


Since the 1960s, many professional and amateur dance groups have been established throughout the Philippines. They have contributed to the organization and development of Philippine dance. Philippine modern dance and ballet have also developed.

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