Celebration of Kambengan Culture: Palawan's List Of Folk Dances, Music and Songs


Palawan is known as the Philippines' last ecological frontier, UNESCO's Man and Biosphere Reserve, home to two World Heritage Sites and Travel + Leisure Magazine World's Best Island in 2013 and Conde Nast Traveler's World's  Top Island in 2014.  There's one though that is usually overlooked in this place. It's culture and heritage that shaped its people of today. My visit to Palawan Tourism and Trade Fair a week ago, gave me a glimpse of this so I am sharing this to those especially students who are researching more about Palawan's rich history. You won't need to browse dusty old books to find information about this because I am pretty sure not so much is written about Palawan's history in heritage and music combined.

Beyond its pristine beaches I learned about Palawan through music and dance performed by Palawan Dance Ensemble, Provincial Capitol Chorale and the Provincial Acoustic Band. From the unique dances and rituals of their indigenous people, to the dances with Spanish influences of their ethno - linguistic groups, I totally had a one of a kind experience of how diverse the culture of what makes Palawan a true melting pot. 

The presentation that we watched were divided in three: the tribal era, the Spanish colonial time and the modern.

Tribal
For Palawan's indigenous people such as the Tagbanua, Palawan and Batak, dance is an integral part of life.

ALAY or offering is an adaptation of an ancient tradition of conveying good wishes through offering s so that the celebration may overflow with life, joy and abundance. 

Rice - our staple food symbol of plenty
Fire - symbol for wisdom, knowledge and enlightenment 
Salt - wealth, prestige & prosperity 
Water - universal symbol of life 





PAGDIWATA  a ceremonial ritual of the Tagbanuas performed by a babaylan or shaman to implore the blessings of a supreme being for a bountiful harvest or a fruitful hunt and also to heal the sick and to celebrate a thanksgiving song for the Gods performed every full moon. 

PATARUSAN considered the highest form in the dance hierarchy of the Batak tribe. It is the fastest and the most exciting, characterized by stomping while the arms hang loosely at the dancer's side.    

Spanish times
CUYUNON the comic of Spaniards in the 16th century ushered in new influences in the Palaweno way of life particularly in terms of religion, habits and beliefs
Among those who were easily converted were the Cuyunons in Northern Palawan whose dances bear a strong Spanish influence. The Cuyunon Suite opens with the famous love dog 





PLONING about a young woman pining for her lost love. The succeeding songs and dances - Cuyo Balitaw, Layang Pasyak, Solteros,cPetronas, Konsimisyon and Toting depict the many facets of the Cuyunon way of life. From courtship and belief systems, to the folksy tunes of the farmers and fisherfolks, they illustrater simple joys and zest for life, as well as traditional worldwide rooted in island life


Modern
The songs and dances here depict the Palawan of today - full of optimism, forward - looking and trying to catch up of what is the current trend in the country and the world.



I had such a great time listening to the songs Isla Ganda, Amos Tara, Tribu ng Palawan and Palawan March. These are made celebrating Palawan's God-given beauty and bounty, a declaration by a grateful and humble people.

Next time I will go back to Manila,  not only will I spend my time to its gorgeous beaches I will also definitely dropping by to its museum and make sure to talk to the locals then get to know them more.

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