Photographs of Mindanao, Philippines:
Music and Dance

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Constructing the piyapi, the so-called “boat lute”, formerly widely distributed in Mindanao in various forms. It is made out of one single log of wood which is hollowed out from the back. The wife of the carver is watching from the background.

Claveria, Misamis Oriental. February 24, 1984.

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Click HERE for an ANIMATED SEQUENCE of six images (155 kB).


The kudiyapi, another type of boat lute used by the Higaunen of Misamis Oriental. On this picture as well as on the animated sequence of pictures, it is played by Alfonso Sakahan, the baylan in this place. He had a very impressive way of playing the instrument: during short pauses, he would make dance-like movements, pointing towards people, into all directions and high into the sky as if he wanted to embrace the whole world of human and spirit beings alike. Being a traditional priest (baylan), he transformed this whole situation of music-making into a spiritual affair.

Sitio Iponan, Balungkud, Dansulihon, Misamis Oriental. January 7, 1983.

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Formerly also used as a signaling device among the Binukid speaking peoples, the bamboo slit drum nowadays is mainly restricted to providing the musical accompaniment for dances performed during social gatherings. Examples of dance rhythms are the binanug (“hawk dance”), binakbak (“frog dance”), inamű (“monkey dance”) or pinigkut (“cripple dance”), to name just a few. The slit drum is generally called bantula, in Guilang-Guilang however tagungtung.

Guilang-Guilang, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon. February 8, 1983.

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Bukidnon couple wearing traditional costumes. The headdresses are especially typical for Bukidnons: the woman wears a fan-like construction called panika, the man a kind of fabric crown called sulang-sulang which is actually the distinctive mark of a war leader. The drum (tambul), like the bamboo slit drum bantula, is used for the solo accompaniment of dances. It is played here by Salvador Cogling. His wife, Petra Cogling, organized a small dance troupe with the girls of the barangay.

Freedom, Cabanglasan, Bukidnon. (Freedom used to be a PANAMIN settlement at that time.) January 3, 1984.

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The spike fiddle dayuday used to be widespread all over Mindanao with different names and with a slightly different construction. Its resonating chamber consists of half a coconut shell which is covered by snake skin or pig bladder. Its long neck is made of bamboo. It is, first of all, an instrument for women – with all minority groups in Mindanao. Here, it is played either by Maria Colero or by Alipia Sonong Sinto, according to my field notes.

Songco, Lantapan, Bukidnon. Dezember 30, 1983.

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The spike fiddle dayuday is played here by an old Higaunen lady, Emiliana Lecion. I tape-recorded her playing in Claveria. Actually, she grew up in Maluko, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, and she is usually living in Larapan, Malitbog, Bukidnon. This is only one example for the high mobility among the Binukid-speaking peoples.

Claveria, Misamis Oriental. March 4, 1984.

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For viewing the video of a performance on the kulintang, click on this icon

Solo performance
on the kulintang
by Genot Kamensa.


Complete performance
lasting 57 seconds in
REAL VIDEO G2 format.
File size: 1575 kB.

Probably the best known traditional musical instrument in the Philippine Islands is the kulintang or kulintangan, in most cases eight gongs of graduated sizes which are placed in a row on a wooden frame and beaten with two wooden sticks on their bosses. 

This instrument can be found among all the Islamic people in the southern Philippines, namely the Maranao and Magindanaon of Mindanao, Taosug, Samal and Sama (Badjao) of Sulu, Yakan of Basilan (kwintangan), as well as some neighboring non-Islamic tribal groups like the Tboli and Subanen. They all share the kulintang tradition with people outside the Philippines, namely the Badjao and Kadayan of Sabah, the Iban of Sarawak, several groups in Brunei (kulintangan), the Tanjung of East Kalimantan and a group in the Moluccas.

The kulintang is usually played as the main and only melody instrument in a larger ensemble which consists of bossed gongs of different sizes and a drum. Among the Magindanaon of Mindanao, the ensemble comprises one kulintang set of eight pieces, two big agung with wide rims, a set of four big gongs with shallow rims (gandingan), a small high-pitched gong (babandil) and a big standing drum (dabakan) which is beaten with two thin sticks.

On the picture as well as on the video presented here, the kulintang is played as a solo instrument by Genot Kamensa, a Magindanaon musician who was taught by well-known kulintang virtuoso Amal Lumuntod.
Capiton, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao. January 2, 1998.


If you are interested in seeing more photographs regarding music, musical instruments and dances of the lumad people of Mindanao, you might take a look at my article “Music and Dance of the Bukidnon-s of Mindanao – A Short Introduction” which includes 35 more photographs.

There is also an animated picture of three Higaunen, two men and one woman, dancing the sayaw on my “Traditional Music” website. In other places this dance is usually called binanug (“hawk dance”) or, depending on the musical accompaniment, inagung (“gong dance”) or tinambul (“drum dance”).

Additionally, there is a picture of a Bukidnon man performing the war dance saet on my page about the “SAOT project.”

Page designed and maintained by Hans Brandeis, Berlin, Germany.
All photographs and information collected by Hans Brandeis in 1976-1993.
Copyright © 1996 by Hans Brandeis. All rights reserved. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

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Created: Sunday, April 28, 1996
Updated: Sunday, December 29, 2002

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