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Meet the Different Indigenous Groups
Palawan is home to several indigenous ethnolinguistic groups: the Tagbanua, Palaw’an, Tau’t Bato, and the Bataks. They live in remote villages in the mountains and coastal areas. It is believed that their ancestors occupied the province long before Malay settlers from the Madjapahit Empire of Indonesia arrived in these Islands in the latter 12th or 13th centuries.
In 1962, a team of anthropologists from the national Museum led by Dr. Robert Fox unearthed fossils at Linpuun Point (now known as the Tabon Cave complex) in Quezon town that were classified as those of Homo sapiens and believed to be 22,000 to 24,000 years old. With the recovery of the Tabon man fossils and other significant findings in the area, the place came to be known as the Cradle of the Philippine Civilization. Research has shown that the Tagbanua and Palaw’an are possible descendants of the Tabon Cave’s inhabitants. Their language and alphabet, practice of kaingin, and common beliefs in soul relatives are some of their cultural similarities.
Native-born Palaweños include Cuyunos, Agutaynons, and Molbogs. Originally from the Island town of Cuyo in Northern Palawan, Cuyunons are considered an elite class. They are religious, disciplined and have a highly developed community spirit. The Agutaynons practice a simpler island lifestyle, with fishing and farming as their main source of livelihood. The Molbogs, the original inhabitants of the southernmost Island group of Balabac, derived their name from the word ‘malubog’ which means turbid water. Among Palaweños, the Molbogs are the ones most exposed to Islamic culture.
There are many local dances that reflect Palawan’s rich culture and history. Cuyo's sayaw is a colorful enactment of a story heightened by the music of a string band. It is presented by five pairs of youth arranged in two lines, fully costumed and made up, and bearing props like flowers, crowns, and even knives. After an introductory dance, the leading couple proceed to relate the tale, sometimes using verse. The topic may be anything, from everyday occurrences to special events like winning the sweepstakes. This story is then interpreted in dance and ended with a finale. The Karatong, meanwhile, is a Muslim dance. During the festival of San Agustine in the island of Cuyo, the celebration also includes the blossoming of mango trees.
The parade starts from the church patio and ends at the town plaza with ladies waving their colorful props “Bunga mangga” that symbolize the flowers of mango tree, while men lively strike their karatong instruments; creating a scene of joy among reveling towns folk. Other Cuyonon dances are influenced by either native or Spanish performances such as the Pastores or the Christmas Dance of the Shepherds, the Chotis derived from the German Schothische, the Lances de Cuyo or local French guadrille , the Virginia or the Virginia reel, the Paraguanen which is a romantic comic duet and the La jota paragua which is a Castillian type jota. Pinundo-pondo is perhaps the most popular native Cuyo dance. Performed during weddings, it is a stylish wedding dance marked by sudden pauses and divided into two distinct parts. The first part features solo dances of the bride and groom. The second part, called a suring, is a love play between the newly wed couple.
Ati-ati sa Bukid, Lancero, and Virginia are outdoor dances performed during moonlight nights to while away the time while fetching water from the village well.
Sembais a stately invocation, reflecting a profound reverence and connection with the natural world. The Batak are one of the Philippine's ancient tribes, and for thousands of years, they have lived deep in the Philippine forest as nomadic hunters, fishermen, and farmers. They keep their distance from the modern world, and although their forest home has decreased alarmingly in recent years, they continue to live a nomadic way of life. As Batak nomadic groups move from place to place, they dance for the local spirits. They dance to ask permission or approval to inhabit a location, and for guidance before fishing, hunting, or planting. If the spirits don't answer with a sign—a wind, an animal cry—the dance is repeated. The Tagbanuas perform the Pagdiwata dance to show gratitude for a good harvest and to implore continued protection and favor from the deities.
There are songs for various occasions. The most simple, the sandaw, is a lullaby. There are verbal jousts, the native balagtasan is called the erekay. This is composed on the spot by the manig-erekay, a male and a female who try to outdo one another by composing melodic verses, most often in a teasing manner. The one who runs short of ideas is the loser. There are songs for vigils or polao, singing games like kotaw-kotaw, and coridas de la Borjon.
Christmas songs are introduced by the tambora or native carolers who sing the Panagbalay signifying the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. There are songs of the pastores or shepherds symbolizing the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christmas songs include Villancincos in Spanish and Pastorela songs for the mass.
Occupational songs include Manig Pangisda, Cuyo Balitaw, and Layang Pasiak. Many folksongs handed down from generation to generation are simple songs for children like Taringting, Petrona, and Ang Saya-Saya and love songs like Ploning (dedicated to Apolonia), Konsomisyon, and Ako Maski Bayan.
Religious songs are sang during the Flores de Mayo and Pasion and Tabat Mater for Lent. Songs for the resurrection are Regina Coeli sang during the sualaw or meeting of Virgin Mary and Jesus. These songs are accompanied by the modern town band with a few wind instruments or the church organ.
Other popular hymns are the “Palawan March” and “Sakapupurwoan”. Kundiman and pop songs are also now popular all around Palawan.
Source : Palawan.gov.ph
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