Saturday, January 20, 2007




The various dances among the Manobo entertain, educate, and propitiate the gods. Among the Agusanon are the sinundo/singangga, dance ritual to ward off epidemic busau; pangaliyag, courtship dance; pangasawa, marriage ritual; kinugsik-kugsik, squirrel dance. Those witnessed and described by Garvan (1931) in 1910 are the bathing dance, honey gathering dance, hair plucking dance, sexual dance, and dagger or sword dance.

The Agusanon and Umayamnon saet, Cotabato saut, and Western Bukidnon kedsaut is a war dance of one or two warriors, each holding either a war bolo or a spear with a bell attached to it, and a shield. In the kedsaut, the two dancers begin from opposite sides of the dance area, brandishing their shields and shaking their spears. First, they dance sideways, then they imitate a hawk in flight before they finally engage in mock combat, each hitting the other's shield with his spear and crashing shield against shield, "navel to navel" (Plenda 1989:139). Rhythmic music is provided by the bells attached to their spears.

An Arumanen Manobo verson of the war dance is the mangmangayan, with two bagani each brandishing a sundang (bolo) and a kampilan (sword). Every once in a while, in the course of the dance, they adjust their tangkulo (headgear). The Pulangi Manobo's version of the mangmangayan ends with a peace pact and a celebration dance which the women join. The datu/bai, acting as arbiter, places a kerchief on the ground and all the warriors place their weapons on it to signify peace and end of the hostilities.

Other Arumanen Manobo dances are the paningara (bee hunt), pegako (courtship dance), and pendaraka (woman's response to the courtship). The kinudlat ng sayao demonstrates the performer's ability to touch his shoulders with his toes. The penarangas-tangas and manmanaol are both hawk dances, which a bagani and a woman perform. In the manmanaol, the hawk catches its prey, represented by a kerchief on the floor.

The binanog (hawk dance) mimics a hawk sweeping down on its prey. The Cotabato Manobo version has a female dancer using a kerchief, which she drops and then picks up while using her hands and arms to imitate the hawk. The steps are simple hop-steps and slide-steps. She wears earrings that reach down to the shoulders and anklets. The beat is a slow 1-2-3-4. Among the Pulangi Manobo, the binanog is a component of the courtship dance. Two other Manobo dances imitating bird movements are the kakayamatan and the bubudsil (hornbill). These dances may be accompanied by gongs or zithers.

A vigorous courtship dance is the pig-agawan, which involves two women vying for the attention of one man. A bai and a datu try to settle the dispute between the two women. A slow walking dance exclusively for females of marriageable age is the takumbo, which signifies their availability for marriage. It is named after the musical instrument that accompanies their movements. Another woman's dance, also called takumbo, is performed by one woman who simultaneously dances and plucks the takumbo. She rests the takumbo on her waist while she holds it in her left hand.

In Kidapawan, Cotabato, girls dance around the mortar to the beat of their pestles as they pound rice. During harvest celebrations, the Tigwahanon have an occupational dance called inamong, in which men and women execute monkeylike steps as they step on rice stalks to separate the chaff from the grain. The bakbak is a children's comical dance; they hop and make noises by slapping their bodies while maintaining a squatting position throughout.

The agpanikop (fish hunt dance) of the Manobo of Matalam, north Cotabato, portrays a boy, torch and spear in hand, looking for edible frogs. A second boy joins him in the hunt after the initial mutual wariness is dispelled. The second boy is wounded and writhes in pain, the first boy fetches the womenfolk and the baylan. The dance turns into a healing dance ritual and the boy, fully recovered, joins the women and baylan in a thanksgiving dance.

The pangayam is a reenactment of a hunter in pursuit of a wild boar. He carries his lance and bolo and is accompanied by his dog, represented by a bottle to which a strip of red cloth is tied.

In the Umayamnon inanak-anak/bata-bata, a girl mimes a woman's chores. She pretends to take care of a baby, putting it to sleep, trying to stop its carrying, feeding it with milk. She goes to the fields to dig for camote, then washes and makes herself beautiful before a stream.

The Tigwahanon bangkakaw is a festival dance celebrating a war victory or a bountiful catch of fish from the river. The centerpiece is the bangkakaw (log), which the women beat with the ando (pestles) and the men, with lampus (rods) while doing some stunts over and under it. They provide the accompaniment for the dancing fisherfolk, who carry their catch in their bubo (fish traps) and liag (large basket with a headsling).

A thanksgiving ritual in Magpet, North Cotabato, is the binadbad, which begins with the men facing heavenwards as they address the gods. Atop (coconut palms) are suspended at the center of the dance area. Then women join the dance, their attention on the atop, which they gather one by one. They then vary their formations, each holding an atop. Another woman joins them, gathers all the atop from them, and returns these to the center.

Among the western Bukidnon Manobo, the dance of the healing ritual is the legudas. Women holding hands form a circle around the baylan, who chants to the busaw, requesting it to return to the deity that has sent it to cause the illness. The men then stand between the women in the circle. The women wear the saya (wraparound skirt), sinu-laman (embroidered blouse), embroidered belt, and tikes (knee band) with the seriyew (pewter bells). The rhythmic music is provided by the seriyew.

The haklaran, which has been observed among the Agusanon, Tigwahanon, and Umayamnon, is a healing ritual performed by a male and female baylan. A prelude to this is the ritual dressing of the male baylan in woman's skirt, usually a malong, for it is improper for a man to perform the haklaran in a man's attire. This dance is performed around the sankaw, an altar bearing the sacrificial offering of a pig's head.

The suyad-buya is the healing ritual dance in Magpet, North Cotabato. It dramatizes the process by which the baylan heals a sick boy as his mother and a group of young women watch. The women prepare the paraphernalia by bringing in a table on which they set four coconut shells containing burning incense. They also carry red ribbons meant to drive the evil spirits away. As they dance in the background, the baylan enters, dances around the patient and waves a white chicken overhead. The shaman takes the chicken to the table, cuts its neck, and smears the patient's forehead with its blood. The boy regains his health and dances joyfully with the women and his mother.

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