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Balancing Lights with the Pandanggo sa Ilaw

Pandanggo or Pandanggo sa ilaw literally means the 'Fandango with the Light' in English language. And yes from the name itself, this dance is that dance that involved the manipulation of the lights. This dance is from the Lubang Island, Mindoro. The term 'pandanggo' which means 'fandanggo' in the Spanish language is actually dance that is characterized by marking time with the use of clack of castanets, the snapping of the fingers and the stomping of the feet in the triple-time rhythm. The person that performs this graceful dance is often called as the 'pandanggera'. The 'pandanggera' then dances holding three oil lamps which are called as the 'tinghoy'.

There is another version of this dance, and the dance resembles the steps that are performed by the dancers of the 'pandanggo'. This other version of the dance is called the 'Oasiwas' and this dance has its origins in Lingayen in Pangasinan. This town in the province is known for its fishing industry and their version of the 'pandanggo' is related to the fishing industry. Right after their good catch, the fishermen in this town will usually celebrate by drinking wine and by dancing, and by swinging and circling with the lighted lamps on the hands of the dancers. The swinging and the circling moves of the dancers gave the name 'Oasiwas' which in the local dialect is known as 'swinging'.

This unique dance from the province of Pangasinan is a colorful dance that requires the dancers to balance the oil lamps on their head while doing their circling in their hands the lighted lamps that are wrapped in the porous cloth or wrapped in the fishnets. And the music that accompanies the dancers is similar to the music that accompanies the dancers of the 'pandanggo'. This traditional Philippine dance is now the center of a famous festival in Oriental Mindoro. And the dance is now considered as one of the rituals that the females perform in order to send off and to welcome the fishermen of the town.

In Oriental Mindoro, this festival with the dance at the center of it all is called the 'Pandang Gitab' or the 'Festival of Lights'. This festival was coined and developed after the now famous Filipino folk dance called the 'pandanggo sa ilaw' and the 'dagitab' or the flicker of light. This festival that is hosted in Oriental Mindoro is celebrated every second week of November and this is done as a major event as part of the commemoration of the founding anniversary of Oriental Mindoro. The festival is a new festival that showcases the dance the culture of the province and this festival is often participated in by hundreds of performers and participants coming from the many sectors in the province.

Some of the participants to this festival include the following;

. Schools

. Cooperatives

. Non-government organizations

The typical 'pandanggo sa ilaw' that is performed in the coastal towns of Oriental Mindoro and Pangasinan will be performed as a send off to the town fishermen and will be performed as well as a welcome to the participants. But in this festival that is popular in Oriental Mindoro, the dance is taken out of the beaches and into a whole new audience. The people in the province of Oriental Mindoro has taken their famed 'pandanggo sa ilaw' out of the beaches and into the streets of its capital, Calapan. And with the dancers holding these lights, the streets leading to the capital can be likened to an oasis of light as these streets are covered by a number of dancers garbed in the traditional dresses of ternos and barongs. The costumes that are used by the dancers of this festival may vary and some of the dresses are plain and some are flashy too. The dresses may also feature floral prints and mostly these dresses are done in orange hues. The participants of the dance and the festival endures the heat of the candles as they travel the length of the 2-km stretch of street in the capital as they carry their candles in glass, in bamboos and in coconut shells. The event not only served to promote tourism in the area, but as a way to promote awareness for the dance called 'pandanggo'.


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