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Itik itik Dancing Apes the Movement of the Ducks

If most Philippine dances are originally patterned after the European dances during the time of the Spanish regime, some dances have evolved from an already known Philippine dance.

One such example is your Itik itik- one of the popular dances in the Philippines.

According to one story about the origins of the dance, there was this young woman named Kanang and she was considered as the best dancer and performer in the province of Surigao del Norte. And at one baptismal reception, the performer was asked to dance the Sibay- another important local dance and at the middle of her performance she began improvising on her steps. The steps imitated that of the movements of the 'itik'. The 'itik' is a duck and her movements during the said performance are like those that are being performed by the animal- choppy steps and there were splashes of water on its back while attracting its mate. And since the steps were new and unusual, the audience were fascinated and soon they began copying and aping the moves.

Based on records, the dance has its roots not only in Surigao del Norte but in the Visayas region as a whole as well. in the other version of the story about the roots of the dance, it was said that this dance has originated from the dance 'Sibay' which was then danced to the tune of the 'Dejado' music. The 'Sibay' is a popular bird dance in the Visayan Islands. This was confirmed by Reynaldo Gamboa Alejanadro and he added that the Visayan Island where the dance originated was Samar. Reynaldo Gamboa Alejandro is considered as the Philippine dance authority. This information was also backed up by a book that was written in 1668 by Fr. Ignacio Alzina who is a Jesuit missionary to Samar.

In that book, the Jesuit missionary described a dance that imitated the bird that was popular in Samar and the 'Sabay'. In the same book, the missionary said that the dance imitated the flying birds. So how exactly is the dance performed by the dancer? As it was mentioned the steps of the dance resembled the movements of the wading and the flying ducks or the 'itiks'. The dancers here copy the swaying gait of the waddling feet and also ape the intense energy of the close-cropped flapping wings.

There are around six separate foot sequences that the dancer is expected to perform and these series of foot movements form part of the dance steps. Right now, there are modern versions of this dance and this can be seen in many parts of the country.

The present and the modern version of the dance are from the following areas;

. Carmen
. Lanuza
. Cantillan
. Carrascal

These are all towns in Surigao del Norte. Though this version of the dance from Surigao del Norte was a thing of beauty and very popular, there are other versions of the dance that have sprouted in other parts of the archipelago. Other than the original 'Itik ittik' Surigaonon, there were other versions of the dance and these dances can be found in the Visayas. The other versions of the dance can be seen in Sibomga, Cebu and in Tibiao, Antique. The dance is currently performed during special events or during the country's 'Linggo ng Wika' which is a celebration of the country's language during August. The dance forms part of the culture of the country and considered to be one of the dances that help shaped the Filipino culture in terms of dance and identity. Right now, the term 'Itik itik' has been used as a name for one small festival in Metropolitan Manila. There is an 'Itik itik' festival which is a week-long festival that culminates every last Sunday of February and the festival is hosted by Barangay Kalawaan in Pasig, City.

At the center of the festivities are the ducks- duck races, biggest duck contest, duck catching, swimming contest, best cooking, dancing and a parade in honor of the barangay's patroness, St. Martha. For the locals, the she is the patroness of the duck-raisers. And more importantly the name of the festival raises the profile and the prominences of the name 'Itik itik' as people are reminded of one important dance in Philippine culture, even though the dance is not specifically performed in the festivities.

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