Tinikling, a national dance from the Philippines is known for its fast beat while hoping at two sets of bamboo. The dance involves two people against each other, beating sliding and topping bamboo poles on the ground in coordination with one or two sets of dancers who step over and in between the poles. Considered as one of the oldest dance of the Philippines and known as “bamboo dance “in English. It was originated on the province of Leyte in the Visayan Island.

From the word Tikling, a kind of bird known for its legendary grace and speed that walked between grass stems, run over tree branches, or knack bamboo traps set by the rice farmers. The bird was the best enemies of Waray farmers as it molest and eat the ripening rice grains.

History of Tinikling

Oral myths and folklore have been passed for the evolution of this dance. True or may not be, this dance creates pride and honor to the Philippines. During the Spanish Era, native people of the Philippines lost their control on their farm lands. King of Spain ordered the implementation of encomienda system, whereas operations of farmlands and rural agriculture would be administered by the caretakers of the King. The natives had to work all day in the fields and paddies to please the Spaniards for nearly four hundred years (1500-1898). Those who worked slowly would be punished. They have to stand between two bamboo poles cut from the groove, which had thorns between its segments. The poles were then clapped together to beat the native’s feet. To escape from this cruel punishment, the natives were jumping when the bamboo sticks were apart. With this practice, to avoid from bamboo punishment, it became a challenge, an art and then a dance. Nowadays, bamboo sticks are smooth and the clapping is gentle, then Tinikling became truly a dance.

How it dances

The Tinikling dance needs two bamboo poles, two wooden pieces of wood that put on the ground. Two sets of people are assigned to clap at the bamboo, and two sets of dancers. The bamboo is used as percussive instrument and bang against the wooden piece of wood to create sound. The dancers must step inside and out of the bamboo. They must be quick enough not to get their feet (or foot) caught. As it continues, the banging becomes faster and harder. The sound of the colliding bamboo and the snappiness of feet by the dancers give the thrilling effect to the crowd. Dancers are performing barefooted and wearing traditional costumes. Females are wearing Patadyong or balintawak, and males wear Barong Tagalog. Patadyong is a blouse made of Pineapple fiber and combined with a checkered skirt. Meanwhile, balintawak is a colorful dress with arched sleeves. Barong Tagalog is a male outfit which is made from lightweight long sleeve shirt and combined with red trousers.

There are different kinds of tinikling varies in different regions and beliefs of Leyte. One is Tinikling Tabango which came from Tabango Leyte. It is a ritual dance that performs to relieve the sickness of the dancers. The fast beat of the dance gives the dancers a sweating effect that believed to wash out their illnesses. The oldest and most difficult types of Tinikling is the Tinikling ha Bayo. Bayo is a wooden pestle people of waray use in pounding unhusked rice or making pinipig. Instead of using bamboo, pestles are used in dancing and males are challenged to bend their knee while dancing in between the clashing pestles.

The evolution of this dance hit the sports curricula of elementary school. Today in the United States, it was taught in K-12 grades as an aerobic exercise that also improves agility and coordination, foot and leg speed, rhythm and spatial awareness.

Leave a Reply