SAMAHAN Filipino American Performing Arts & Education Center, Inc.
FILIPINO FOLK DANCE & MUSIC REPERTOIRE
Filipino folk dances and music portray the people’s rich culture and traditions, whose diversity reflect influences of various races, such as, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Malay, Spanish and American, who came to stay
in the islands as migrants, traders, or colonizers through out the history of the Philippines.
FOLK DANCES AND MUSIC IN THE PHILIPPINES' COLONIZED REGIONS
DANCES OF SPANISH INFLUENCE
The Spanish colonization of the Philippines brought many Western influences including religion, social customs, dress, dance and music. European dances like the waltz, mazurka, the Spanish jota, paso doble, fandango and others were transformed to suit the climate and the temperament of the people. The elaborate and formal costumes of the 16th century Europe were introduced and modified for the formal balls and other occasions in the homes of the wealthy and for the elegant government functions. These costumes were later adapted as costumes called “Maria Clara” for the women, and Barong Tagalog for the men.
A Spanish derived small string orchestra called Rondalla came into being with music played on the banduria, laud, guitara and base or “bajo”.
DANCES OF THE RURAL COUNTRYSIDE
Life in the provinces reflects the simplicity of the lives of the people who live close to the earth. The landscape is of small towns and villages dotted with coconut groves, clumps of bamboo trees and the green or gold of rice fields.
Many dances are imitations of the movements of nature such as birds, animals, trees and the sea, are characterizations of various occupations or are created for various religious celebrations. The bamboo is used in many types of dances.
RITUALS, DANCES AND MUSIC OF THE INDIGENOUS TRIBES OF THE PHILIPPINES
RITUALS OF THE INDIGENOUS TRIBES IN THE CORDILLERAS IN NORTHERN LUZON
The Benguet, Ifugao, Bontoc, and Kalinga-Apayao people, now known as BIBAK tribes, live in the misty mountain provinces of Northern Luzon. Because of their long isolation in landlocked mountain villages, these indigenous tribes have been able to preserve much of their tribal identity, rich culture and traditions.
Dances of the BIBAK tribes are expressions of their beliefs which are often nature-oriented. Their dances are mostly community celebrations of the important aspects of life such as birth, wedding, death, and rich harvest. They dance to appease and to pay tribute to their ancestors. They also dance for their gods to cure their ailments, to insure the success of war activities, to ward off bad luck, and to pray that natural calamities may not do harm to their source of living and their everyday life. Dance is also a form of socialization for these tribes like the Kalinga. They often congregate in order for them to unload their feelings. Some of their dances depict agriculture, from planting to harvesting, since it is their main source of livelihood. Their dances are always performed to the beat of percussion instruments such as, flat brass gongs – Gangsa, drums, hard wood sticks, various bamboo instruments and flutes.
DANCES AND MUSIC OF THE INDIGENOUS TRIBES IN MINDANAO AND SULU ARCHIPELAGO IN SOUTHERN PHILIPPINES
The influence of Hindu, Arabic, and Indo-Malayan cultures are reflected in the music, dance and costumes of the people who live in the southern Philippines – the island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelango. Included in this group are Filipinos who embraced the Islamic religion early in the 14th century. Called Moros by the Spaniards, after the Moslem Moors, these people have resisted all attempts at Christianization.
The dances, particularly of the Maguindanao, the Maranao, and the Tausug, are largely ceremonial and are often accompanied by percussion instruments such as gongs, known as the Kulintang, and drums. Kulintang music has been practiced since the 3rd century A.D., before the coming of Islam and Christianity. It is celebratory music that brings people together, performed during weddings, festivities, for healing rituals, and to drive away evil spirits. The music is never played in funerals or Islamic observances.
SAMAHAN PHILIPPINE MUSIC ENSEMBLES
The rondalla is an ensemble of stringed instruments played with the plectrum or pick and generally known as plectrum instruments. It originated in Medieval Spain and the tradition was later taken to other countries. During the Spanish period in the East Indies, the rondalla was brought to the Philippines by the Spaniards. In the early Philippines, certain styles were adopted by the natives, especially guitar and banduria used in the Pandanggo, the Jota, and the Polka. The use of the term comparza was common, however, during the American period in the Philippines, the term rondalla became more used.
Rondalla in the Philippines, refers to any group of stringed instruments that are played using the plectrum or pick.The Filipino instruments are made from indigenous Philippine wood and the plectrum, or picks, are made from tortoise-shell. Other stringed instruments composing the standard Filipino rondalla are the bandurria, the laúd, the octavina, the Twelve-string guitar, the Ukulele, the bajo de uñas or double bass, the Guitarrón mexicano, and other Filipino-made instruments modeled and developed after the guitar.
The musical components of Samahan were formed in 1980 with the assistance of Bayani Mendoza De Leon, well known Filipino ethnomusicologist and composer. Under his expert tutelage, Samahan’s Rondalla, Gangsa, and Kulintang Musical Ensembles were formed. A grant from Parker Foundation enabled the Company to obtain musical instruments from the Philippines. His students who have continued to play with the Rondalla, Dr. Juanita Caccam, Sheryl Aguilar Rodriguez, and Dr. Carmen Galang, have become the foundation of the current group. The Samahan Rondalla has benefited for more than two decades from the leadership of Frederick Embalsado, as music director and Dr. Juanita Caccam as the coordinator. They have nurtured the development of the next generation of Samahan Rondalla musicians, now led by Dr. Bernard Ellorin.
Danongan Sibay Kalanduyan, master artist/ teacher of Kulingtang Music became a guest teacher and artist with the Company from 1988 to 1991 and 1994 to 1997. He introduced Samahan to the authentic music of the Maguindanao people as well as the music of the Maranao people. Kalanduyan was honored in 1995, as a recipient of the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship Award bt the National Endowment of the Arts. His patient guidence resulted in the development of Bernard Ellorin, one of his students, as a Kulintang player of great promise.
Bernard Ellorin’s talent and dedication to Kulintang music and his knowledge of authentic Maguindanao and Maranao Kulintang music as learned from the Master Kalanduyan has been vital to the growth of Samahan’s Kulintang Music Ensemble. Since 1996, he has been the Kulintang player and Director of the Samahan Kulintang Ensemble which provides live Kulintang music for the Mindanao dance performances. Original members of the Kulintang Ensemble besides Bernard, are SDSU alumni, Eric Abutin, Chris Feraro and Severino Reyes, who all went through the basic Kulintang training with Master Kalanduyan. The group eventually adapted the name Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble, merging with the group formed by Bernard and his UCLA music student colleagues.
Bernard received his Bachelor’s degree in Ethomusicology, cum laude, from the Univ. of California, Los Angeles, his Masters of Arts in Music, majoring in Ethnomusicology and his PhD in Ethnomusicology from the Univ. of Hawaii, Manoa. His dissertation was about the Bajau kulintang in Malaysia under the Fulbright Fellowship and Asian Cultural Center grant. Read more about Bernard’s Philippine music career – http://www.positivelyfilipino.com/magazine/a-career-in-roots-music