Filipino Performing Arts Group
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 www.youtube.com/puppetnettes.
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, 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.
Southern Philippine (Mindanao) Dances
- Kini Kini
- Maiden Dance
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
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.
Music: a fusion 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.
Dances from Visayan Island
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.)
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.
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. (Assistant choreographers: Angelo and Zeke.)
Many of the small children are on break in 2017. Children’s Dances such as Paru Parung Bukid (choreographed by Maricar) will be revived.
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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