The Different Kinds of Filipino Folk Dances

Updated April 17, 2017

Dancing is a key element of any culture. It is a form of expression used as a central component of festivals, ceremonies and rituals as well as entertainment. The nation of the Philippines has a rich history honoured by the various dances. In addition to traditional dances, there are European influences due to colonisation by Spain. Despite these influences, there are also strong connections to ethnic roots and each particular area has its own form of dance.


Tinikling is the national dance of the Philippines. The word "tinikling" means "bamboo dance." Dancers perform graceful movements while hopping between bamboo poles that are tapped together by another pair of dancers. When the first set of dancers makes an error, the dancers change places. This dance is one of the oldest known dances in the Philippines and started in the Visayan Islands. The dance mimics the movements of the tikling bird.


Another exciting dance of the Philippines is the Maglalatik. This dance depicts a battle between the Christians and the Moros and has four parts. This battle was over "latik" which is the product after coconut meat is boiled. This dance involves two groups of men dressed as either Christians or Moros. They use the shells of coconuts throughout the dance. This dance began in Laguna and is often performed in tribute to the patron saint of farmers, San Isidro de Labrador.


The Binasuan dance takes a lot of skill. Originating in the Pangasinan province, "binasuan" means "with the use of drinking glasses." In this dance, a female dancer performs to music while balancing drinking glasses filled with water. The dancer holds a glass on each palm and a glass on her head. She performs a variety of graceful moves without ever spilling a drop of water from the glasses.


The Pantomina folk dance is performed annually in the month of October during the Sorsogon Kasanggayahan Festival. This dance is also known as the "Dance of the Doves". It is a courtship dance which mimics the courtship rituals of the dove. This dance is mainly performed by elderly couples during the festival.

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About the Author

Sharon Bernhardt has done translation, writing and editing for GO Magazine and Dreamlight Television Studios. She has also written Sunday school curriculum for more than seven years and has been published in the Church of God Missions Magazine and their annual testimonies booklet. She graduated with a degree in secondary education in 1997.