Filipino Performing Arts Group
The Filipino Performing Arts Group (FPAG) aims to share Philippine or Filipino American 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. In 2018, we currently have 14 members (middle school to college students and some older adults). Others, mostly the male dancers have taken a break after May 2017 due to demands from work and school. Some of our young (elementary) school children have also taken a break since 2017. Practices are held on Saturdays and most of performances are also on Saturdays.
NOTE: To view full images, double click on the photo and click again for large image. (Photos at Santacruzan 2017 – courtesy of Kathy B. and Norma D., Cesar Chavez Day 2018 courtesy of Edna and Emilie.)
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 FAFNM Cultural Group was dissolved in February 2017 to give autonomy to different groups.)
Pamana Awards/Filipino American History Month: Congratulations to our 2017 Manoa Youth: Awardee: Miracle; Honorable Mentions: Angelo, Mary, Ashley and Franz. Graduates: College – Zeke (cum laude); high school: Sandy, Latrell, & John. See press release: Alb Journal Manoa Youth 2017 Left photo shows awardees, Manoa Youth, & graduates. The two rows of photos below were taken at the event on Oct. 21 at the Wyndham Hotel. Check: Pamana 2017. (We congratulate Lyle Leonen who graduated in Dec. 2017 at UNM, Physical Therapy. High school graduates in May 2018: Angelo, Ashley, and Mary.)
To view full images, double click on the photos (and double click again for enlarged images). (Photos courtesy of Maricar.)
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.) Special thanks to a) Dr. Dely Alcantara and Dr. Ted Jojola who got the grant in 2004 to bring kulintang to New Mexico Filipinos (by inviting the late Danongan Kalanduyan to give a workshop); b) New Mexico Arts Apprenticeship Program for training Miracle (2014-2015), c) Filipino American Foundation of New Mexico Cultural Dance Group coordinator in 2016, Maricar Castro, for purchasing a kulintang set that the FPAG is using now (although majority of students have their own sets), d) Filipino American Community Council (and City of Albuquerque City Council) for the grant that extended instructions to our three youth, Malaya, Jasmine & Justine (2016-2017).
To view performances (2016-2018) on youtube, click on pinoy nm.
2015: Kulintang Recital (for New Mexico Arts), the first and only recital
Southern Philippine (Mindanao) Dances
- Kini Kini
- Maiden Dance (part of Singkil but also performed separately)
Ethnic or Martial Arts Dances
- Ati Atihan
- Sayaw Arnis
Contemporary Dances/Poetry (to honor contemporary Filipino musicians or heroes)
- Pinoy Samba dance – Samba Song (by Bong Penera)
- Hip Hop dance – Pinoy Ako (Orange and Lemons)
- Rhythmic Poetry Reading: “A Dollar Forty an Hour”. This is the minimum wage during the 1960s that the Filipino farmworkers fought for. The poem, written by Tessie, is a tribute to Larry Itliong, Filipino Farm Worker who spearheaded the Great Delano Grape Strike from 1965 to 1970 with Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. The teenagers or young adults usually read the poem. Ashley read it at Cesar Chavez Day; Jasmine and Krystal at the Santacruzan.
Starting in May 2018, we are adding Tinikling which is known as the bamboo dance and the National Folk Dance in the Philippines. This is choreographed by Krystal. We decided to add this to our repertoire since the audience is always asking for this dance.
Singkil is a dance named after an anklet worn by a Maranao princess of the Southern Philippines. It recounts the story of Princess Gandingan who was caught in the forest during an earthquake caused by the fairies. The crisscrossed bamboos represent the fallen trees she gracefully avoids as her loyal maiden shields her with an umbrella. The fans represent the ferocious winds. The princess will be danced by Miracle or Mary with live kulintang music played by Malaya. (See Maiden Dance below.) NOTE: For those asking about the bamboos, please read at the bottom about dimension, care and where to get bamboos.
Kulintang Music: Pangalay Ha Janggay (Composed by Tessie), Origin of dance: Sulu Archipelago
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.
Kulintang Music: Kanditagaonan, Origin of dance: 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 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)
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. (Please see Singkil in the earlier part of this article.)
Sagayan (Male dance)
Music: a medley of two kulintang pieces: Tagonggo and Adongkodongkogakit, Origin of dance: Maranao and Maguindanao
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):
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. The kulintang musicians who has been trained on this music is Malaya.
Dances from Visayan Island
Ati-Atihan (Male dance)
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. (Choreographer: Tessie; Assistant choreographers: Angelo and Zeke.)
Sayaw Arnis (Arnis Dance) (Male 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.
The dance movements focus on rhythmic calisthenics of basic strikes and blocks for beginners using one stick.
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. (Choreographer: Tessie, Assistant choreographers: Angelo and Zeke.)
This is our first contemporary dance that showcases the Filipino Jazz musician, Bong Penera who composed the song A Samba Song (1974). We are starting to feature not just our past cultures (Southern Philippine, ethnic, martial arts dances) but also present Filipino cultures to attract young audience to our events. This is our first piece of contemporary music.
This is a hip hop dance from a popular song by the Orange and Lemons which talks about pride in being Filipino. This is a second piece showcasing contemporary Filipino musicians.
Since we have been asked about bamboos used for dancing for Singkil and Tinikling, we are giving this information. The ideal dimension for a bamboo pole used for dances is: 1 1/2″ to 1 3/4″ in diameter and 8 feet long, however 8 feet long causes shipping to cost more than $100 so we opted to have it cut 2 inches shorter (so the length is 7’10”). We usually use 4 bamboo poles for Singkil. We always have one extra pole for backup. The total cost of 5 bamboos ($8.50 per pole x 5 = 42.50 ) and shipping ($30.43) is $73.93 (price in 2018). Be sure to tell them to make sure there are NO CRACKS (or minimum cracks) and tell them they are for dancing (not for a fence). The shipping period might cause them to crack a little. You can order at Frank’s Cane and Rush Supply, 7252 Heil Ave, Huntington Beach, CA 92647, Tel. 714-847-0707. Web: www.franksupply.com.
You can also order bamboos from Home Depot (online but can pick up locally) but the diameter available is 2″ (same length: 8′). The bigger the diameter, the heavier the bamboo. Also, always point out that you are using them for dancing not for fence. They should have no crack, if possible.
CARE FOR BAMBOOS. The bamboos will easily crack in a dry climate like New Mexico. Cracked bamboos can’t be used for dancing because they are harder to click and might totally crack during performance plus it may cause blister on the clickers’s hands. Do not expose them in the sun as much as possible (only when you are performing). Do not even store in the garage where it is hot so store them inside the house. It needs constant moisture to avoid cracking so spraying it with water maybe every week is recommended especially during summer time. Some people leave them in the bathroom where moisture is there every time someone takes a shower. Also, put two wood under for the bottom bamboos to protect the clickers’s hands and to protect the carpet or floor. (NOTE: Some venues especially residences DO NOT want their floors damaged with bamboos.)
Our small children have not performed since early part of 2017 but some have been playing the kulintang.
Contact: FPAG Coordinator
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