My First Music: “Padanggo Sa Ilaw”, Another Tricky Filipino Dance

I’m not going to talk about the Tinikling here as it brings back unpleasant memories of having my ankles banged with bamboo poles, but I will mention the Pandanggo (from the Spanish word “fandango”). This is very elegant dance where dancers wear not the formal Maria Clara, which is hard to get around in, but the patadyong, which is a simple cotton dress with butterfly sleeves. My aunt Wilhelmina looked very nice doing this dance, with the candles on the backs of her hands and the candle on her head. You try balancing that. I almost started a fire.

Pandanggo Sa Ilaw (Marty McCorkle, 2016)Above “Pandanggo Sa Ilaw” by Visayan resident Marty McCorkle (2016) the title dance to this posting, performed by Juan Silos Jr and his orchestra.

Pandanggo traditionally is danced to rondalla music, which is a sort of serenade played by an ensemble of guitars and mandolins and other stringed instruments. It originated in Spain during the Middle Ages. You can also hear the rondalla sound in Mexican and Central and South American music, which should show that Filipinos are more cultural kin to the Hispanic world than the mainland Asian. But we claim both.

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My First Music: “Magtanim Ay Di Biro” (“Planting Rice”) Sung by The Dawn

The first song ever taught to me I think when I was five. My mother sang it to me in English, just once, and I pretty much got it. Here’s the Mabuhay Singers doing the somewhat tedious all-English version I remember growing up, and below is the fantastic Filipino post-punk rock group The Dawn doing it in Tagalog.

Amorsolo Planting Rice.jpgFernando Amorsolo y Cueto (1892 – 1972) was a portraitist and painter of rural Philippine landscapes. This is one of his many, many depictions of rice planting and it’s the one I think hung in our house when I was little, next to the shield of bolo knives, the oversized mahogany fork and spoon set, and the pictures of Pope John XXIII and John F Kennedy. If you’re an American-born pinoy, you’ll know what I mean.

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