Cordillera, meaning "knotted rope", is a Spanish term that refers to the jumbled rolls and dips of this long-range traversing the northern part of Luzon Island. Many tribes collectively known as the Igorots live in these mountainous regions. These tribes are Bontoc, Ifugao, Benguet, Apayo, Kalinga, and Abra. Once known to be vicious headhunters, these tribes have kept many of their ancient pagan celebrations and rituals. Whether it be for victory in war, courtship, or worship, dance and music play an integral part in the lifestyles of these mountain people.
Bendian is performed for many reasons. Some of which are to heal a prolong illness, relieve natural calamities such as famine and drought, and to celebrate a bountiful harvest. However, the biggest Bendian is to celebrate a victory in war and a successful headhunt. The arrival of successful head takers, called "ulul" is met with great festivities by the entire village. The Bendian festival celebrated by the Benguet, Ibaloy, and Kankanay is always big and extraordinary. It involves the village circling and dancing around the ulul leader while executing various arm movements. Lasting until the wee hours of the night, the bedian ritual ends on the sound of the loudest oway or war cry. This version of Bendian centers around the maiden's part of the circle.
The Salidsid is the Kalinga courtship dance, performed by a male and female (and thus is sometimes called the "cayoo" dance). The dance starts when each of the dancers are given a piece of cloth called ayob or allap. Usually the most important people in the village are the second to dance after the host has signified that the occasion is formally open. The background and meaning in this dance is evident. The male simulates a rooster trying to attract the attention of a hen while the female imitates the movements of a hen being circled by a rooster.
Other Mountain Dances
The Dinuya is a thanksgiving-festival dance that involves the community. It originates from the Ifugao region of the Philippines. The female dancers represent sparrows while the male dancers represent eagles. The motion of the bow shows the strength of the warrior and is represented through the motion of an eagle flying. As the males spread their wings, they represent the eagle as a strong and majestic creature. The females, have quick and minuscule movements similar to a sparrow.
Takik is a love, or courtship, dance that also originated from the Mountain Province. The takik is varies by region and can be faster or slower, with different movements depending on where you are from. This particular dance is based off the Bontoc region and is commonly performed during the Begnas, a rice thanksgiving festival. It is performed mainly at weddings to give thanks to the god, Kabunyan, for their union and to ask for a blessing. A male dancer imitates a rooster making large gestures to grab the female's attention. The female, which represents a hen, mirrors the male's movements. The beat of the music is lead by the striking of the Solibao (ethnic drum) and the tik tik (two iron rods).
Originating from the Mountain Province of the Philippines, the Ballangbang is a celebratory dance for victories in tribal wars and headhunting expeditions. Today, the dance is still performed for celebration but for occasions such as weddings, and other social gatherings. The male dancers play the gongs as they synchronize their artistic graceful steps and body swaying. The female dancers follow with the appropriate steps while executing movements that imitate the carabao or water buffalo. The "arwas" also known as the "elwas", is a contrasting beat which is distinct from regular beats of the rest of the gong players. It is played by two male dancers and leads the sound of the gongs and the grace of the dance.