Filipino Folk Dances

Filipino folk dances are expressions of the lives of Filipinos - usually showing their triumphs, struggles and sometimes just everyday life.

The dances can classified according to the region where they come from. They are also categorized according to their respective themes. These dances sometimes depict the celebration of a victory or show aspects of the culture or place in time in which the dance originated.

Here are some very popular dances I'd like to share with you:


The Cariñosa is the national dance of the Philippines. It is probably the most known of all Filipino folk dances because of its simplicity that exudes grace. It is derived from the Spanish word ‘cariño’ meaning love or affection.

Danced mostly in the Visayas, Cariñosa is a flirtatious dance wherein the woman is holding a handkerchief and being playfully chased by a man. Most of the steps are similar to a hide-and-seek movement.


Binasuan is a dance that originated in the province of Pangasinan. It got its name from the word basu or glass wherein dancers balance 3 glasses half-filled with rice wine. One glass is balanced on top of the head and the dancer holds one glass in each hand with the fingers outstretched.

Binasuan is a dance of skill which requires balance and coordination. The best dancers never drop a glass or spill a single drop of wine!


During the olden days, Filipinos have a way of depicting legends, stories and battles through dances. One of these Filipino folk dances is Maglalatik. This is actually a dance performed by males only.

It shows how war is fought between the Christians and the Moros over the meat of a coconut. Moros are dressed in red while Christians don their blue trousers. Coconut shells attached on the dancers backs, thighs and chests are used as part of their costumes.


Singkil originates from the Maranao people of Mindinao. This beautiful dance retells the story of a princess what was caught in an earthquake. While everything is shaking around her and tress are falling, she gracefully escapes any danger.

This dance is often a dramatic production of the Filipino cultural dance troupes that tour the world. Here you can see a video of the Leyte Dance Theater performing Singkil. My favorite part starts 54 seconds into the video.

When I was a child my father took me to see Bayanihan - The Philippine National Folk Dance Company. They still tour all around the world! I have so many fond memories of seeing the various costumes that represented the rich history of the Philippines.

It has not been until recently that I have been able to understand the indigenous and Spanish influences. The music, some Spanish influenced, others with deep drumming, some very traditional Filipino sounding can be heard by watching some of the videos Ive included.

Filipino folk dances are all unique and creative. They mirror the lives of the Filipinos. They reflect the rich and diverse culture and history of the Philippines.

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