Filipino Performing Arts Group

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Filipino Performing Arts Group

Category : Uncategorized


The Filipino Performing Arts Group (FPAG) aims to share Philippine history, language and/or culture through performing arts specifically music and dances, to the next generations of Filipino Americans and to the mainstream society.

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, Americans 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.  You can view past recitals and performances (both kulintang and dances) from

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

Santacruzan (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.

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


Kulintang Music

Kulintang musicians with Tessie (far right)

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?  The instructor, Tessie (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 learning from Danongan’s video instructions.  She also performed 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.)  She felt the urge to share an indigenous instrument to the youth not just for the music but also for understanding and appreciating different Filipino ethnic group through its arts.  The kulintang music workshop she conducts usually takes six months to a year (3 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 and the culture in Southern Philippines. Such long training can only be sustained from grants or private funding.


Her workshop covers many extensive one-on-one sessions, group practices with dancers and other musicians, performances and recitals. In 2014-2015, she obtained a 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 FAFNM Cultural Group for more than 3 years. Tessie created her own curriculum, manual and audio instructions.  She also choreographed dances for the music she has taught, creating her own DVD dance instructions. In 2016, she received a 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).  She also invited another kulintang instructor, 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 (see top photo, starting from second from left): Malaya, Jasmine & Justine , 11-12 years old, which she began teaching since summer last year (2016) until the recital day, May 20, 2017 at the Santacruzan event.

Mindanao including Sulu Archipelago

Southern Philippine (Mindanao) Dances

  • Janggay
  • Kini Kini
  • Maiden Dance
  • Sagayan




Janggay (Music:  Pangalay Ha Janet Composed by Tessie Greenfield)  Origin: Sulu Archilepago


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.  They are mostly sailors, pearl divers and traders.

Dance:  Kini Kini (performed by female dancers with umbrellas & scarves)

Music:  Kanditagaonan                                               Origin:  Maranao province (LANAO)


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 tubular fabric).


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 (performed by women with big fans)

Music:  Kasayaw sa Singkil                                     Origin: Maranao province


The Maiden Dance is danced 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.

Children’s Dances (choreographer:  Maricar Castro)



Contact artistic directors:  Tessie at or Maricar at  Financial officer is Gloria.

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