~ Culture is the widening

of the mind and

of the spirit ~


-  Jawaharlal Nehru





































San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival Program 2010

   Pictured:  Kimberly Requesto & Richard Fernandez                                                                               Photography: RJ Muna

In Philippine Tagbanua communities, Pakidwa is a prayer: there is no separation between dance, theater, ceremonial prayer, and the physical well-being of the community. In this ceremony, a masikampo male tribal leader dresses like a babaylan shamanic priestess: he will sanctify the union of Tagbanua couples. The dancers wear red to drive away evil spirits, and wave dried pandan leaves to signal the deities crossing the threshold of the spirit world. Then they drink tabad rice wine prepared from the earliest spring buds. The wine binds the individual to the group and insures the union will flow as smooth as wine. It also invites the presence of the gods, as it has an excellent flavor and it's a pleasure found only on Earth. In the final dance, the intricate footwork is another well-chosen offering: it's a favorite of the dieties, as are the musical instruments, the babandil brass gong and long bamboo karatung.

The Tagbanua tribe lives in the southern highlands of Palawan, southwestern Philippines, and they are probably one of the island's original inhabitants. They recognize the existence of a supreme being in another realm as well as spirits who inhabit places in nature. Ritual offerings are made to please the gods and to ask for permission to clear or live in new areas of the forest, to provide luck for hunters and fishers, and to cure ailments or protect people from physical danger. Community ceremonies also ask the spirits for abundance, fertility, rain, and happy unions. If the gods are delighted by Pakidwa, they will bless the couples with fertility and a happy life.

Barangay Dance Company, based in San Francisco, preserves Philippine cultural heritage by presenting folk dance and music, and through research and outreach.  Barangay refers to a long swift boat, and because the boat could carry up to sixty people, the came to mean a “clan” or “family.”  Barangay Dance Company is a family of immigrant and American-born dancers, young and your-at-heart, bound by a mutual love for Philippine dance and music.

Choreographer Jay Loyola set the piece for Barangay in 2009. Loyola is a leading Philippine indigenous dance practitioner: his pieces are performed in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. He trained under Lucrecia Urtula as Dance Director for Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company and worked with New York's Elisa Monte Dance and Conseil International des Organisations de Festivals de Folklore et d'Arts Traditionnels in Europe.


Dance Origin: Palawan, Philippines • Genre: Ritual • Tittle: Pakidwa Artistic/Executive Director:  Bonifacio Valera • Choreographer: Jay Loyola • Dancers: Marijoy Angeles, Gina Battad, Joel Cayabyab, Zheena Cayabyab, Rommel Conclara, Richard Fernandez, Tiffany Estrellado, Garett Hom, Jonah Lu, Aikenne Mauricio, Jemelee Peralta, Emily Piros, Kimberly Requesto, Nicko Requesto, Evan Reyes, Jan Salas, Geraldine Santos Delaney (January audition), Jonathan Tioseco, Allan Tiña • Musicians: Christine Aquino (gong & sticks), Liza Erpelo (agung), Vickie Hafalia (agung), Robert Lopez (dabakan & agung), Ron Moon (babandil), Marjorie Rubio (babandil), Bonifacio Valera (dabakan & gabbang), Patricia Valera (babandil)