Category Archives: Culture: Music and Dances

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Santacruzan 2017

Santacruzan (40 years of celebration)

Chito receives certificate of recognition for introducing Santacruzan in 1977.

Join the Filipino American community in New Mexico in celebrating “Santacruzan” on Saturday, May 20, 2017.  The event will start with the 4:00 p.m. Holy Mass at San Felipe de Neri Church in Old Town, Albuquerque. The Mass will be followed by a procession at the Old Town Plaza.  This is an annual event sponsored by the Filipino American Foundation of New Mexico and was introduced by Consuelo (Chito) Zafra (now 95 years old) and her late husband, Eugene Zafra in 1977.  The Filipino Cultural Show, which showcases music and dances from different ethnic groups (see bottom photos), will start at 6:00 pm at the Old Town Gazebo.  The event is FREE.  The Cultural Show is sponsored by the Filipino American Community Council, City of Albuquerque City Council and Cultural Services.

Santacruzan 2015

“Santacruzan” is the word that Filipinos use to refer to “Santa Cruz de Mayo,” a celebration in honor of our Blessed Mother.  The celebration commemorates Queen Helen’s finding the Holy Cross during the reign of her young son, King Constantino.  It is believed that “Reyna Elena,” “Rey Constantino,” and their subjects asked for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary to help them find the Holy Cross which had been taken away from the Christians by the infidels.  The “Santa Cruz de Mayo” is celebrated by a procession commemorating this historic event.  Throughout the procession, the song “Dios de Salve” is sung.

During the month of May in the Philippines, every evening, there is a town somewhere celebrating the “Santa Cruz de Mayo.”  A town usually does it for nine consecutive evenings, like a novena.  On the ninth evening, the whole town has a fiesta.

It has been a project of the Filipino American Foundation of New Mexico to celebrate “Santa Cruz de Mayo” every year.  (The people who have made this event possible for 40 years are:  Consuelo Zafra, Heddy Long, Cora Romillo, Myrna Samson and now, Betsy Custodio.)  Nine consecutive evenings are not practical here in Albuquerque. So, on Saturday, May 20th, we will celebrate the 9th evening.

“Santa Cruz de Mayo” is also referred to as “Flores de Mayo.”  May is the month when flowers of all kinds are blooming in the Philippines, so the procession is adorned with colorful gay flowers.  For this reason, one of the queens in the procession is called, “Reyna de las Flores.”

The participants in the procession are called “sagalas.”  They represent the important individuals during the expedition and the angels and saints that were called upon to intercede for them.  The main characters in the procession are:  Reyna Elena, Reyna de las Flores, Reyna Sheba,” and “Reyna Esther.”

ESPF Dancers: Standing from left: Vilma, Miracle, Evelio, Yoko, Maggie; Foreground: Anni, Gloria, Edna, Ligaya, Bianca, Carmela & Michelle.

Stick around for the Filipino Cultural Show featuring participating groups:  Ethan Sabay Philippine Folkloric Dance Group (ESPFDG) and Filipino Performing Arts Group (FPAG) (See photos below.)

The Cultural Show was posted on the following on-line calendar events:

For more information about Santacruzan, please email:  Betsy, Cora,  or Heddy.

To view complete images, double click on the photos and double click AGAIN for the enlarged images.

Print Press Release about Santacruzan

People of God Magazine, Archdiocese of Santa Fe, May 2017 issue, page 29.

Albuquerque Journal (Life in NM Magazine), May 14, 2017, see photo below.

Albuquerque Journal (Life in NM Magazine) 05 14 2017

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Ethan Sabay Philippine Folkloric Dance Group (ESPFDG)

ESPF Dancers: Standing from left: Vilma, Miracle, Evelio, Yoko, Maggie; Foreground: Anni, Gloria, Edna, Ligaya, Bianca, Carmela & Michelle.











Ethan Sabay Philippine Folkloric Dance Group

Artistic Directors:

Ligaya White

Evelio Sabay


WATCH ESPFDG at the Santacruzan on

May 20, 2017, Saturday

6:00 pm

Old Town Plaza


Ethan Sabay Philippine Folkloric Dance Group


Part I: Spanish Influenced Dances or Maria Clara Suite

Philippines was under Spanish colonization for over three centuries.  One of their enduring legacies is apparent in dance.

  1. Sayaw sa Baston

 Origin:  Luzon

Sayaw sa Baston (the walking cane dance) is our interpretation and original composition based on the lively steps of the Spanish Jota style of the dance, Aray. It is a theme of flirtation, romance, and love as most Philippine dances are about.

  1. Carinyosa

Origin: Panay Island

Carinyosa, (loving) from the Spanish word cariño (love), is a dance of Hispanic origin representing romance and courtship.


  1. Paypay

Origin: Ermita, Manila of Chabacano Manileños.

Paypay (fans) is a dance showing how young ladies flirtatiously use fragrant fans to gain the attention of young men who have canes and straw hats.


  1. Ligaya White and Evelio Sabay dancing Kuratsa at the Balloon Fiesta 2014

    Jotabal 2014: Gloria, Vilma, Edna & Ligaya


Origin: Quezon

Jotabal, from the words jota (or xota – to jump) and valse (to waltz) is a Spanish influenced dance characterized by the waltz rhythm.


  1. Kuratsa
    Origin: Eastern Visayas

Kuratsa is couple dance where the male and female are walking around one another.  The male progressively tries to get the attention of the female and the female ignores the pursuit.


Part II:  Rural  Dances

  1. Maglalatik

Origin: Binan, Laguna

Maglalatik (also known as Manlalatik or Magbabao) emulating battles between Christians and Moros, is an indigenous dance using coconut shell halves fixed on dancers’ hands and bodies as percussive implements.

  1. Binasuan

Origin: Bayambang, Pangasinan

Binasuan, which means with the use of a drinking glass (baso), showcases the vibrant colors, gracefulness and balance of dancers who whirl and move to the ground with glasses half-filled of rice wine.

  1. Pandanggo sa Ilaw and Oasiwas

Origin: Lubang Island, Mindoro (Visayas)
Pandanggo (fandango in Spanish) sa Ilaw (with lights) uses oil lamps or lit candles that are balanced on the head and the back of each hand accompanied by swinging of lights celebrating local fishermen’s catch.



Origin:  Pangasinan

Oasiwas (swinging) is similar to Pandanggo sa ilaw, celebrating the good catch of fishermen of Lingayen.  They celebrate by drinking wine, dancing, swinging and circling a lit lamp.


ESPF Dancers

  1. Ethan Sabay PFDG Dancers

    Subli (Versions 1 and 2)

Origin: Batangas

Subli, from the words SUBsob (bent or stooped, or fall on the face) and baLI (bent or broken) is characterized by a stooping posture and tipping of a straw hat as a religious salute to the Holy Cross.


  1. Tinikling

Tinikling, named after the bird, tikling, which always managed to grab the farmers’ crops or fishermen’s catch. Two people tap and slide bamboo poles on the ground and against each other, while dancers step and hop in and over the poles. It is supposed to mimic tikling as it weaves through grass and graciously avoids the traps.


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Filipino Performing Arts Group

FPAG with Dr. Dely Alcantara (not in photo: Zeke & Lyle)

Albuquerque Journal (Life in NM Magazine) 05 14 2017


The Filipino Performing Arts Group (FPAG) aims to share Philippine history, language and/or culture through performing arts specifically music and dances.  It also focuses on the importance of appreciating and understanding multicultures in New Mexico. (We welcome members of other nationalities who are interested in our culture.)

In addition, we are Filipino Americans living in the US, a nation of immigrants.  As such, it is important for the next generations to know their identity from both cultures, American and Filipino. If we don’t share our Filipino culture and heritage to our children, especially those who were born here, they will slowly fade away and be forgotten.

FPAG was established in February 2017 as an independent group.  Majority of the members have been performing with the Filipino American Foundation of New Mexico Cultural Dance Group for more than five years.  (The Cultural Group was dissolved in February 2017 to give autonomy to different groups.)  You can view recitals and performances (both kulintang and dances) from

Watch FPAG with another dance group, Ethan Sabay Philippine Folkloric Dance Group at the

Santacruzan (and Filipino Cultural Show) on May 20, 2017, Sat. at 6:00 pm at the Old Town Plaza, Albuquerque sponsored by the Filipino American Community Council and the City of Albuquerque City Council and Cultural Services.  The FPAG will present 6 dances (4 will be accompanied by our young kulintang musicians) and an instrumental piece (see below).

To view full images, double click on the photos (and double click again for enlarged images).  (Photos courtesy of Maricar.)

Kulintang Music

Kulintang musicians (from left): Miracle, Malaya, Jasmine & Justine with instructor, Tessie.

Kulintang, an indigenous (percussion) instrument from Southern Philippines, is the main instrument in a kulintang ensemble.  It is composed of 8 gongs in graduated sizes.  The other instruments are:  agong, dabakan (drum), and babandil (see second photo below). (We also use the bamboos and will be using the gandingan, 4-gong set, in the future.) How did we happen to have a kulintang ensemble in New Mexico where there are few Filipinos?  The instructor (who has never played an instrument in her life until she was 54 years old), took a 4-day kulintang workshop (2004) from kulintang master based in San Francisco, the late Danongan Kalanduyan (from a grant obtained by Dr. Dely Alcantara for the Filipino community).  She continued to teach herself from Danongan’s video instructions.  She also performed (& choreographed) with the Kulintang Ensemble of Albuquerque (KEA), and learned more from Jenny D. and Cristal, from 2004-2008.  (Many KEA pioneer members took Danongan’s workshop but KEA was dissolved in 2009 due to busy schedules.)  Although she was a neophyte in the instrument, it did not deter her from sharing this indigenous music to the youth.  She felt that by knowing the music and dances (or any art) of a different ethnic group, the participants will eventually understand, appreciate, and respect that ethnicity.  She taught her young cousins (elementary & high school students) kulintang in the Philippines during a visit (2007) and held a 5-session kulintang workshop to three teenage members of the dance group in NM (2013) to get them interested at least in one piece.  Only one (Miracle) out of three persisted.

While she continued to teach herself, she started creating her own curriculum, notations (she does not read musical notes), manual and audio instructions as she went along.  She also choreographed dances for the music she has taught, creating her own DVD dance instructions. Her kulintang workshop usually takes six months to a year (2 to 4 sessions a month) focusing on four to five pieces (see titles from the dances).  She also covers a brief history of the Philippines (focusing on Southern part). Participants have extensive one-on-one sessions, group practices with dancers and other musicians, performances and recitals with the FPAG. Such long training can only be sustained from grants or private funding.


In 2014-2015, she obtained a small grant from the New Mexico Arts’ Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program to train Miracle (see right photo above), then 16 years old, to learn kulintang. Miracle has performed for the Cultural Group for more than 3 years.

In 2016, she received a small portion of a grant obtained by the Filipino American Community Council from the City of Albuquerque City Council, entitled “Philippine History and Language Acquisition through Performing Arts”. She was able to use funds from the grant to teach kulintang (for one year) to three Filipino children.  She also invited another kulintang instructor (and Gamelan music professor at the College of Santa Fe), Jenny D to teach a Percussion Class to her students and other musicians (see third photo above).  The students of her workshop for this grant are: Jasmine, Justine  and Malaya, 11-12 years old, which she began teaching since summer last year (2016) and will have their recital on May 20, 2017 with FPAG and other performing groups.  There are only nine kulintang musicians performing in New Mexico that she is aware of and five of them are with the FPAG.

Mindanao including Sulu Archipelago

Southern Philippine (Mindanao) Dances

  • Janggay
  • Kini Kini
  • Maiden Dance
  • Sagayan

Plus Instrumental piece:

Sinulog A Kamamatuan

(See dances from Visayas at the bottom.)



Kulintang Music:  Pangalay Ha Janggay (Composed by Tessie), Origin of dance: Sulu Archipelago

At Cesar Chavez Day 2017. From left: Justine, Gloria, Miracle, Krystal, Mary, Jasmine Q and Sandy.

Janggay dancers at FAFNM Xmas 2016

Janggay (also called Igal Janggay or Pangalay) is a set of extended metal fingernails worn by female dancers from the Sama-Badjao tribe and Tausug people in the Sulu Archipelago. To showcase the long nails’ beauty, the hand movements include flicking, flipping and cupping of fingers. The janggay also represents the claws of the Sarimanok, a mythical bird and the headdresses represent its expanded wings.  Sarimanok, from the words sari (cloth) and manok (chicken) is a reincarnation of a goddess that loved a mortal man.

About the People:  The Sama-Badjao or just Badjao (man of the seas) is a tribe also known as sea gypsies because they live in small houseboats called vintas and they seldom stay in one place.  They are usually fishermen and sea divers.  They inhabit the shores in Sulu Archipelago in Southern Philippines.  Some dance movements mimic the rolling waves as oceans play an essential part in the lives of sea fearing people.   Tausug (people of the current) which stands for tau (people) and sug (sea current) is the numerically dominant group of Sulu Archipelago.  The Tausug people who are land-based are mostly sailors, pearl divers and traders.  Jolo Island strategically located near the heart of the archipelago constitutes the cultural and political center of Tausug society.

Kini Kini

Kulintang Music:  Kanditagaonan, Origin of dance:  Maranao province (LANAO)

Kini Kini dancers 2017

Kini Kini from the word kini (the royal walk) shows the elite upbringing of the Maranao women in Mindanao.  Using decorative umbrellas and scarves (two items in a hot weather), they walk gracefully to a wedding.  This version of the dance is a combination of Kini Kini (scarf) and Kinakulangan (umbrella), without the male attendants.  The music is called Kanditagaonan which means I cannot go to a wedding because I have no malong (a tube skirt).

Maranao means the “people of the lake” referring to Lake Lanao (principal town is Marawi City) in the province of Lanao del Sur and has its own language. The other Maranao provinces are:  Basilan, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi Tawi and cities of Marawi and Lamitan (see map).

Maiden Dance from Singkil

Kulintang Music:  Kasayaw sa Singkil, Origin of dance: Maranao province (Lanao)

Maiden Dancers at Cesar Chavez 2017

The Maiden Dance is performed by the maidens that accompany the princess in the dance called Singkil, name of the anklet worn by a princess.  This version does not include the princess.  Singkil originated from the Maranao people.  It recounts a 14th century epic, Darangen, about a princess caught in the forest during an earthquake caused by the fairies of the forest.  The fans represent the ferocious winds during a scene in the epic.




Music:  a fusion of two kulintang pieces: Tagonggo and Adongkodongkogakit, Origin of dance:  Maranao and Maguindanao

Sagayan dancers from left: John, Angelo, Franz, Marc, Zeke, Latrell & Sean

Sagayan is a warrior/healing dance that is performed by both Maranao and Maguindanao male dancers.  It depicts the steps of their war hero, Prince Bantugan.  The kasity (headdress), kampilan (sword), klong (shield) and the three-layered skirts are inspired from the hero’s attire.  The male dancers are projected as fierce warriors ready to defend their master as they dance and pray before going to war.  Another version of Sagayan is a healing dance, showing trance-like movements believed to banish the evil spirits (or negative energy) while welcoming good fortune or omens.  (Assistant choreographers: Angelo and Zeke.)


Instrumental Piece (No Dance):

The late Danongan Kalanduyan came to Albuquerque to introduce kulintang music in 2004.

Sinulog A Kamamatuan (Sinulog old style), Version 1. Sinulog is from the Maranao word sulug or people of Sulu. (NOTE: Sinulog as in Sinulog Festival in Cebu means sulug or current in Visayan language.)  A Kamamatuan means older, traditional style derived from the word “matua” meaning old.  The musical notation of Version 1 was from the late Danongan Kalanduyan, kulintang master from Cotabato who lived in San Francisco, CA.  He came to Albuquerque in 2004 to teach kulintang through a grant obtained by Dr. Dely Alcantara for the Filipino community.  This piece is a tribute to him for his contribution in bringing this indigenous music to the Filipinos in New Mexico.


Dances from Visayan Island

Visayan map


Origin: Kalibo, Aklan in the island of Panay

Ati Atihan means pretending to be Ati, one of the first people that inhabited the Philippines.  Long before Spaniards came to the Philippines in the 17th century, light skinned immigrants from Borneo and Indonesia arrived in the island of Panay.  The dark-skinned inhabitants of Panay called the Ati, lived in the upland part of the mountains where they planted rice.  The Atis sold to the immigrants small pieces of land and allowed them to settle down in the lowlands.  One day, heavy rains ruined the Atis’s crops.  They starved.  They came down to the lowlands and were fed by the people.  As a gesture of gratitude, the Atis danced for joy in the streets.


As a gesture of unity, the lowland people covered their faces with soot or wore black masks to look like the Atis and celebrated with them in the streets. When the Spaniards settled in the Philippines, the Ati Atihan festival, which is also a celebration of rice and unity, became part of the celebration honoring Santo Nino (Little Jesus).  After several centuries, the festival is still celebrated in Aklan every January. (Assistant choreographers: Angelo and Zeke.)

Arnis: Lester, Lyle, Franz, Zeke, Angelo & John

Sayaw Arnis (Arnis Dance)

Music:  Over 7000 Planets (Ron Quesada, Kulintronica based in San Francisco), Origin of Arnis:  Cebu

Arnis, also called Eskrima (fencing) or Kali (KA from the Visayan words KAmot or hand and LI from the word LIhog or motion) is the national sport and Martial Arts of the Philippines. It is a stick (made of rattan), knife or sword fighting art.  It includes hand-to-hand combat, joint locks, grappling and weapon disarming techniques.

Arnis at Cesar Chavez

The dance movements focus on rhythmic calisthenics of basic strikes and blocks for beginners using one stick.

Ron Quesada, kulintang musician, from Kulintronica composed “Over 7000 Planets”, the music used in the Arnis dance.

Arnis, (from “arnes,” an old Spanish word for armor) was founded by the Indonesian inhabitants of the Srivijayan Empire that ruled most of Southeast Asia in the 13th century.  They were overthrown by the Majapahit Empire from Eastern Java, Indonesia.  Forced to flee, the Srivi refugees settled in Cebu, central part of Visayas, where they introduced Arnis.  During the Spanish colonization that lasted more than three centuries, the practice of Arnis was forbidden but practitioners trained underground with sticks and bolos.  When the Americans colonized the Philippines, the practice was allowed openly and Arnis flourished. Arnis, which has big tournaments all over the Philippines, is also offered as a PE class in some universities.  (Assistant choreographers: Angelo and Zeke.)

Children’s Group

Children lined up with salakot

Paru Parung Bukid: Joshua, Jordyn, Kai, & Mia.

Many of the small children are on break in 2017.  Children’s Dances such as Paru Parung Bukid (choreographed by Maricar) will be revived.



Contact artistic directors:  Tessie at or Maricar at

We welcome new members by August or January when we teach new dances.   (For children, contact Maricar.) Thank you.

PFAG (after practice)

To view full images, double click on the photos (and double click again for enlarged images). (Photos courtesy of Mary.)

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Pista sa Nayon 2016

Lina Rollins, 2016 Mutya ng New Mexico

Lina Rollins, 2016 Mutya ng New Mexico

The Pista sa Nayon (Town Festival) in the Philippines is a festival in the center of the town to celebrate a good harvest.  It is also the time to focus on their family, neighbors and friends.  It is usually held on the same day when the town celebrates the feast day of their patron saint.

In Albuquerque, the Pista sa Nayon is an annual project of the Filipino American Foundation of New Mexico (FAFNM) to raise funds for our non-profit organization.   In four of the numerous Pista events, the focus was on the essential Filipina. (Other Pista events were celebrated with food tasting and cultural shows.)  It was open to Filipino American female, single or married, 18 years and older and willing to raise funds and promote the FAFNM.  Criteria were poise, personality & intelligence (30%), talent (10%) and fund raising ability (60%).  In 1994, the Pista sa Nayon queen was Binibini (Bb) Linnet Herrera, 1997- Pearl King, 2011 – Gloria Kauz, and 2013 – Brandi Lopez-Flores.

This year, the Mutya ng New Mexico went to Lina Rollins.  The runners up were:  Christa Harner (first place, Mutya ng Luzon) and Elflor Biddle Lingren (second place, Mutya ng Visaya).  There was no 4th candidate who could have been the Mutya ng Mindanao.  Lina was born in Cebu City and has been living in NM for over 20 years.  She is a wife and mother of three and works as a personal banker.  Christa was born in Albuquerque and attended at UNM where she pursued a degree in health and education.  Christa represented NM at the 2015 Miss Philippines USA in Los Angeles.  Elflor was originally in Mindanao and moved to the US in 1990s. She is the proud mother of Elise and wife to Douglas.  She volunteers to help children during her free time.  We thank the candidates for their support.

The event was also attended by Mayor Greggory Hull of Rio Rancho.  It was held on Aug. 6, 2016 at the Hotel Cascada, Albuquerque, New Mexico.


To get full image of a photo, double click on the photo.  It will show album size.  Double click again to give you a larger image.


  • Rod Ventura & Kristelle Siarza (emcees)
  • Kelsie Smith (singer)
  • Serrina Harner (singer)
  • Kenna, Krisca, Kim & Kyle Salazar (singers)
  • Movement Studio Dancers:  Nancy Latuja, Catherine Simpson, and Rachelle Ray.
  • FAFNM Cultural Dance Group
    • Ednalyn Garcia (solo dancer – Pandanggo sa Ilan)
    • Joshua & Jordyn Caintic, Mia and Kai Alter (dancers: Itik Itik)
    • Angelica & Gabriela Velez (singers – Lupang Hinirang/dancers – Oasioas)
    • Miracle McCastle, Kristal Limalima and Sandy Guamos (dancers – Oasioas)
    • Malaya Everette (kulintang musician), Jasmine and Justine Castro (kulintang musicians/dancers of Oasioas)
    • Sean Alter, Marc Castro, Angelo Egrubay (asst. choreographer), Lyle Leonen, Latrel, Lester, & Zeke Racca, Franz and John Soriano (dancers – Ati Atihan)

Thank you to the numerous volunteers who made this event possible including Senlin & Carminia Garver and Lani Velez for these amazing photos.

Compiled by Tessie Greenfield, co-administrator for the website.

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Cultural Dance Groups


Effective February 2017, the FAFNM Cultural Group has been dissolved to give performers more autonomy.  There are independent groups (that used to dance for the FAFNM) now:

Thank you.


We are retaining the information below to give credit to all performers of the Cultural Group.

The Filipino American Foundation of New Mexico (FAFNM) Cultural Dance Group was in existence for more than three  decades.  The Cultural Dance Group has been the ambassador of goodwill and the showcase of our Filipino community in many City of Albuquerque events and Asian cultural events.   In most of the FAFNM fundraising projects, the group provided the cultural shows that helped draw people to the events.

NOTE:  To see full view of photos in the gallery, double click on each photo, then double click again for larger view.  To return to text, click on the (<) arrow at the top right corner of the screen.


In Maria Clara costumes

In Maria Clara costumes











Some of our dancers are with the other organizations such as Asian American Association of New Mexico, Federal Asian Pacific American Council New Mexico Chapter, Diversity Groups at the New Mexico Veterans Administration Health Care System and Filipino American National Historical Society, Rio  Grande Chapter.  Others have worked in projects for the New Mexico Asian Family Center and participated in events sponsored by the the City of Albuquerque Cultural Services.   Because of these affiliations, the group has supported other Asian communities in their cultural and fundraising events (for calamity or tsunami victims).

Aside from encouraging Filipino identity, the group fostered camaraderie and self-confidence among dancers.  Most of our new members are young – our future – and the next generation who will carry our legacy.  Visit:  YP and Youth Page and Scholarship.

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