Minority Suite

Tribal Philippines

In the hinterlands of Mindanao, the second largest island in the Philippines, several ethnic non-Christian/non-Muslim communities can be found. Their religious beliefs stem from nature and the mysticism that surrounds it. This suite contains dances depicting the various distinct cultures that have remained virtually unchanged since centuries past.


The Yakan rituals shown in this dance are built around the wooden ritual instrument called “Tuntungan,” played with gongs and drums. Here Yakan maidens are joined by a bride, richly adorned for her nuptials.


A Yakan wedding couple, picturesque clad, do a pre-nuptial dance.


This suite features the tribe known as the T’boli. The Tagabili’s tribal beliefs suggested the theme for this suite. The theme is chanted by the Narrator and the Chorus of weavers as the tale about to unfold is solemnly woven into the cloth. The personages of the royal house enter with the common folk. The Datu (tribal chief), his brother, and his three wives enter, followed by the princess, the favorite among the six daughters, and her sisters. In fits of jealousy, the Datu slays his brother and receives a curse.

Taking recourse in his people’s traditional belief that espousal will avert misfortune, the Datu seeks a noble groom for his favorite daughter’s hand. In the assemblage that follows, the servitors and vying suitors perform individual numbers typical of their region as part of their courtship, namely, Karal Iwas (a dance mimicking monkeys), the Crab Dance, Mandayan (or an eagle), and a T’boli rich man displaying some of his young villagers. But all in vain. Suddenly, the girl is stricken ill and dies. In the end, catastrophe falls on the entire village, and the Datu burns his whole village and all of his belongings.