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tinikling

Back in college, I used to play with the UPLB Ethnomusemblia, a group of students who liked to play traditional Filipino music as live accompaniment to the UPLB Filipiniana Dance Troupe, those students who performed Filipino local dances. Tribal music was what I learned with the group: music filled with textures of the sounds from kulintang and agong; the resonating sounds of simultaneously beaten gangsa; and the deep tones from the dabakan. However, I never learned how to play stringed instruments that are part of the rondalla. I attempted the banduria but to no avail. That's why I never learned to play the music for the tinikling; instead, I contented myself with listening to the rondalla people play the lively song.

Tinikling is the national dance of the Philippines. In this lively dance, the man and the woman imitate the movements of a tikling, a bird found in the country, over two parallel bamboo poles set horizontally on the floor. The dance is made more challenging as the bamboo poles are being tapped together and on the ground: the dancers have to avoid having their feet hit by the colliding bamboo poles.

Nine years after college, I was sitting with classmates in the training course at dinner. The UPLB Sandayaw, another dance troupe on campus, performed several Filipino dances from the rural suite, including the tinikling. The cool thing was this: after the presentation, they taught the volunteers from the audience how to dance the tinikling! This was my first time to actually be involved beyond time-keeping in the rural suite!

Without a doubt, dancing the tinikling was a challenging experience. I needed to be nimble all throughout the dance because I didn't want to get hit by the bamboo poles! Scared of the poles, I kept jumping high too... akin to playing 10-20 or Chinese garter, maybe. On top of all that jumping, I had to keep count of the number of repetition of steps. Plus, I had to remember that this is a joyful dance: I had to do all that jumping with good posture and a big grin on my face! Each dancer who learns the steps must have a lot of foot-eye coordination, a good sense of balance and no aversion to risk because as the dance ends, the music speeds up to a dramatic finish; the dancers are required to keep everything in mind AND keep their poise too.

At least learning this dance has confirmed that I could actually try out the sayaw sa bangko. That's another stunt pretending to be a dance. The rehab doctor might see me more often because of this.

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