The Filipino people always have a tune in their head and a song in their hearts, and music and dance form an important part of daily life here. A large number of people are able to play the guitar and other instruments, and it is common for people to spontaneously start playing music and singing along during social gatherings.
One of the best ways to get a feel for the history and culture of the Filipino people is by watching folk dances. During these traditional performances special stories are enacted, and one of the most famous types of folk dance is the Singkil, which relate traditional tales of tribal princes and princesses as well as other important characters. These folk dances feature graceful movements, which are performed by dancers wearing colourful costumes and elaborate headdresses to pulsating drum beats.
Other types of folk dances are held to commemorate special events or give thanks for bountiful harvests. Each region of the Philippines is known for its own special folk dances, while those who travel to traditional tribal villages may be able to observe these dances being enacted as part of daily life.
One of the most interesting examples of these regional dances is the Tinikling, in which the dancers mimic the movements of the ‘tikling’ birds. Literally translated as ‘merriment,’ the Ragsakan dance sees the performers wearing colourful costumes and is a traditional form of gratitude after a successful headhunt or peace pact.
Many of these folk dances are accompanied by music that is played on indigenous instruments. Some of the most common that can be seen and heard during folk dances are kulintangs and agungs, which add life to the dances with their mellow to fast paced beats. Folk music and vocal chanting have long played a role in other aspects of Filipino culture as well, and all ethnic groups have their own unique chants and musical patterns that they are associated with.
In additional to traditional Filipino music, all other genres of music are popular here, from American-style rock and pop to lively choral music. The nation boasts a large number of orchestras, and Spanish instruments such as the mandolin have been played here for several centuries.
Those who like to listen to live music will be spoilt for choice in the Philippines, and most of the bars and pubs here support bands in the evenings, especially at weekends. Western music is extremely popular here, and many musicians have a wide repertoire of classic tunes that can be recalled at will. However, a movement to preserve and popularise classic Original Pilipino Music has taken hold in recent years, and these days Filipino music is going from strength to strength.