By By Ramonfelipe A. Sarmiento
Pantomina Catanduanes - Part 3
posted 7-May-2010  ·  
1,629 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

As The Wedding Dance

This dance is usually performed by newlyweds during the wedding feast. The adults push the young couple to touch each other. They also encourage the bridegroom to aggressively pursue his bride. In the course of the dance, coins are showered on the couple and paper bills are pinned on their clothes for good luck. The relatives of the bride pin their bills on the bridegroom. Likewise, the relatives of the bridegroom pin their bills on the bride, each group trying to outdo each other. At the end of the dance, the money is collected in a panuelo (scarf) or in an upturned karagomoy hat and presented by the husband to his wife.

The dance here marks an important event in the life of the performers, making the dance a rite of passage (Encarta, 2000).

As The Dance of Honor

Special guests, public officials, prominent/respected folks are usually honored in social gatherings/balls by asking them to dance the Pantomina. People shower them with coins and bills which the guests usually offer to the ball sponsors as a donation for a community project. Later, however, this particular supposedly magnanimous act of the persons being honored has taken a different, political turn. Guests of honor asked to dance where expected to raise funds for the organizer. This practice started as an effort of a popular public official to force moneyed people around him to share bigger amounts than usual as a show of power. Paper bills in 50’s and 100’s were showered making the honoree raise thousands in an instant. This practice was picked up by others with amounts getting bigger and bigger especially when the moneyed elite who were present would make this as a challenge to prove his worth. The dancing of pantomina took a nasty turn. People started to fear being asked to perform this dance of honor. It would spell money. Pantomina was no longer performed on the dance floors. The dance became unpopular.

Padadyao , the Festival

Resurgence of interest on the dance came when some people made extra effort to bring back the dance to the dance floor minus the money shower. This practice was only retained in wedding feasts.

In 1998, under the administration of then governor Hon. Severo C. Alcantara, Pantomina was brought to the street. It was presented as a cultural feature in the first ever Catandungan Festival. Every municipality was represented by a group of dancers who brought with them the nuances of their place. They were also encouraged to wear as their costume. the Catandungan tapis – kimona for the women and the barong Tagalog or the kamisa chino for the men. Since it was elevated to the contest level, no less than the world-famous dance master himself Ramon Obusan was brought in to head the Board of Judges. The participants showed off the different variations/improvisations of the Pantomina.

Then it rained. It rained hard and strong even before the streetdance could leave the premises o f the capitol grounds. The proponent and organizer of padayao Dr. Estrella S. Placides delayed the start of the parade but seeing that the weather didn’t show any chance of changing, the committee decided to make a go of it. Rainwater drenched everyone to the skin, flattened coiffed hair and washed off eyebrows, eye shadow and cheek blush but this didn’t stop everyone from dancing their best. Dacing under the rain took on a playful mood. Some men started to sip some wine to ward off the cold which was starting to run shivers down their spine and to cramp their legs. Some women took the offer. Soon enough, inhibitions were gone. Native slippers that broke down when drenched with rain that started to flood the streets flew into the air with shouts of laughter. In fact, after the parade, each dancer had her/his own funny story to tell. They also found the rain to be a blessing. It would have been hard to finish dancing along the streets of downtown Virac under scorching heat, they said.

The following year, it rained again on the day of the festivities. Some people believed that the Pantomina caused the downpour. The dance then earned the name "the rain dance." To this day it has become an endearing joke. The truth is October is a rainy month. Typhoon Sening, the strongest typhoon so far that ever hit the province, lashed at the island in an October. So did other typhoons.

There were attempts to bring the festival to a summer time but it happened without much ado.

In 2004, Padadyao was presented as a festival on the streets of Intramuros in the national efforts to focus on cultural practices in what was named "Wow Philippines".

The dance was taught to members of Teatro BUradol, the children’s theatre group of the CSC Laboratory Elementary School. Later, it was taught to some Grade four pupils of Buyo Elementary School in a hope to popularize the dance among the young people and insure its transfer to the younger generations. These children were invited to dance on several occasions in their barangay and later, in the nearby barangays. Soon, the group was asked to teach other dancers in schools as far as Dugui. Even the adults asked the young Pantomina dancers to teach them the dance.

Today, CCHI (Center for Catandungan Heritage, Inc.) has come up with a street dance version using the basic Pantomina steps for Magayon Festival. The ballroom version has also been enhanced. It is hoped that more and better versions will come out of the creativity of the Catandunganon. It should not stagnate.

The Pantomina should continue to be a dance in progress.

Its performance serves any or all of the following functions – recreation, self-expression or competition. It also serves to establish oneness with their own group heritage.

Like most folk dances, there is no story or plot.

(to be continued)

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