01 September, 1992


Aside from the colorful contributions of its regional tribes, Mindanao is home to the largest cultural minority in the Philippines -- Muslims. Brought by Javanese and Middle Eastern traders, Islam is the religion of approximately 20 percent of the Philippine population.

These dances and its music are known for their mysticism, royalty, and beauty. Accompanied by the agong and kulintang, Filipino Muslim dance is marked by intricate hand and arm movement along with shimmering costumes.



Tribe: Maguindanao
Origin: Lanao del Sur
    A solo slave dance performed by the umbrella-bearing attendant to win the favor of her sultan master. The girl wears long metal fingernails and dances and poses in doll-like motions. Asik usually precedes a performance of Singkil.


Origin: Tausug
    A form of self defense. The dance like movements show a fight between a hawk and a cat.


Tribe: Yakan
Origin: Basilan
    The Yakan are a Muslim ethnic group in the highlands of Mindanao. They wear elaborately woven costumes tightly on their bodies. Their dances involve complicated hand and foot movements. In this dance, a man unties a wrap from his wife-to-be's waist to wrap around her body and dance with. Both of their faces are dotted with white paint, to hide their identity from evil spirits.


Tribe: Badjao
Origin: Zamboanga del Sur
    A pangalay native to the Badjao, sometimes known as the "Sea Gypsies." Pangalay is a dance that emphasizes the agility of the upper body. The rhythmic bounce of the shoulder with simultaneous alternating waving of arms are the basic movement of this dance. The pangalay is commonly performed at weddings and other social gatherings.

Pangalay ha Pattong

Tribe: Badjao
    A royal couple balance perilously on top of bamboo poles imitating the movements of the picturesque southern boat (the vinta) with colorful sails gliding across the Sulu Sea.

Pangalay sa Agong

Origin: Tausug - Sulu
    A variation of the Tausug's traditional dance, Pangalay, two warriors vie for the attention of a lad both using agongs to show their prowess and skill.


Tribe: Maranao
Origin: Lanao del Sur
    Pagaper depicts a royal manner of "walking" among the Maranao people who live mainly around Lake Lanao. Ladies of the royal court perform this stately dance in preparation for an important event. The ladies gracefully manipulate the Aper (apir) or fan, while emphasizing their small steps, or "kini-kini", which is a sign of good upbringing.


Tribe: Maguindanao
Origin: Cotabato
    Performed by very fierce warriors carrying a shield elaborately painted with curlicues, rounds, twirls and mirrors which are attached with shell noisemakers. In their other hand, they carry a double-bladed sword (kampilan) of metal or wood. Sagayan dancers are dressed in three tiered skirts, brightly colored topper and headgear embellished with all the imaginable colors of twine trimmings formed into flowers, balls, sunbursts etc. Long, yellow playful tassels almost hiding the face surround the headgear.The dance involves leaping, turning, jumping, kicking and the rolling movements of a warrior ready to defend his master in battle. Kamanyang fumes inhaled by the sagayan moves him to perform in a magic-like trance. On most occasions, this dance is performed before any celebration or gathering to drive away evil spirits (tunong) and to welcome good fortunes or omen.


Origin: Lanao, Mindanao
    LIKHA's signature dance takes its name from the bells worn on the ankles of the Muslim princess. Perhaps one of the oldest of truly Filipino dances, the Singkil recounts the epic legend of the "Darangan" of the Maranao people of Mindanao. This epic, written sometime in the 14th century, tells the fateful story of Princess Gandingan, who was caught in the middle of a forest during an earthquake caused by the diwatas, or fairies or nymph of the forest.The rhythmic clapping of criss-crossed bamboo poles represent the trees that were falling, which she gracefully avoids. Her slave loyally accompanies her throughout her ordeal. Finally, she is saved by the prince. Dancers wearing solemn faces and maintaining a dignified pose being dancing at a slow pace which soon progresses to a faster tempo skillfully manipulate apir, or fans which represent the winds that prove to be auspicious. The dancers weave expertly through criss-crossed bamboos.
    When performed by ladies of the royalty of Lanao, the dancer is usually accompanied by a waiting lady, who holds a beautifully decorated umbrella over the Princess' head wherever she goes. Royal princesses to this day in the Sulu Archipelago are required to learn this most difficult and noble dance.

Tahing Baila

Tribe: Yakan
    Yakan dance for a bountiful fish catch where they imitate their movements