Pangasinan folk dances take center stage again
After many years, Pangasinan folk dances are beginning to breathe again, adding color to local cultural events.
This is because the provincial government had been persistent in reviving the dances in the last three years, said lawyer Verna Nava-Perez, provincial board secretary and dance director of the cultural group, Danggoan Pangasinan (Danggoan).
For the past 30 years, Pangasinan dances had been sidelined by hip hop and other modern dances and were rarely performed in local cultural events, fueling fears that this cultural heritage may soon die.
“The fact that we now see these dances are often performed in programs in the province, I think that we have already successfully brought back [to life] Pangasinan folk dances,” Perez said.
The effort to revive local folk dances began three years ago when Gov. Amado Espino Jr. organized the Danggoan.
“Its members are all employees of the provincial government. They were first trained to perform Pangasinan folk dances and sing Pangasinan songs to entertain visitors,” said Childe Libertad, also Danggoan’s dance director.
The group has since then performed in different towns and cities of the province through an annual cultural tour.
“We have a lot of folk dances. Some are not even published yet. We hope to create a literature for these unpublished folk dances,” Libertad said.
Pangasinan folk dances have been documented in the 1980 book, “Philippine Folk Dances from Pangasinan,” by Jovita Sison Friese.
As part of the folk dance revival effort, the provincial government launched in 2011 the “Balitok a Tawir” (Golden Heritage), an annual Pangasinan folk dance and song competition.
In the last two years, contestants were limited to town and city government employees. But this year, students and employees from local universities have been included.
In the competition, contestants are given a contest piece, which they will perform along with a choice piece of Pangasinan folk dance.
In April next year, Libertad said the contest piece is “Jota de Pozorrubio,” an unpublished Pangasinan folk dance. The contestant’s choice piece, he said, must have a Spanish, European and Western influence, such as fandango, polka, habanera, waltz and jota.
Perez said there is a need to revive Pangasinan folk dances because these showcase local culture.
“Dances are basically interpretations of many things, such as courtship, way of life, raising a family and even your relationships with other people within your community,” she said.
For instance, she said, “Binislakan,” a dance where bamboo sticks are used, reflects a celebration for the abundance of bamboo in San Carlos City.
“Oasioas,” which originated from the capital town of Lingayen, is a celebration for fishermen’s good catch. Dancers gracefully swing lighted lamps wrapped in a net during their performance.
“There are about 20 Pangasinan folk dances that have already been published and there are more that will be published soon,” Libertad said.
To popularize the folk dances, he said his group has trained elementary and high school teachers in the province handling music, arts and physical education subjects.
“Performance of Pangasinan folk dances is a dying tradition that’s why we really have to work hard to revive them,” he said.