By By Ramonfelipe A. Sarmiento
Pantomina Catanduanes (Part 4)
posted 12-May-2010  ·  
3,896 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

The Pantomina in the Ball

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.

In these gatherings, the Pantomina is danced by two (2) pairs in an entrecuatro. This form falls under quadrille, a floor pattern for couple dances in Britain then brought to America (Encarta, 2000). Later, it was brought by American influence to the Philippines. There is no choreographer. People learn the dance from the people of the community. The dance is made up mainly of improvisations made on the spot made based on popular movements of the dance.

In an interview with the original bass player, Engr. Raymund P. Escueta, it was known that the paso music is played repeatedly to allow for the main male performer to (1) find a female partner (2) socialize with the folks also present in the ball by moving around and accepting their offering of makibanga (drink half of the tuba in their glass as a sign of friendship, acquaintance or mere acknowledgement of their presence.) By the time the guest is done with the paso ritual, he would be tipsy enough to forget his shyness or formality, or drunk enough to drop all inhibitions and dance with great gusto.

This is folkdance in its first existence (Encarta, 2000). It is expected to go through variations and evolve through time.

The Pantomina on the Stage

In 2004, the CCHI made an effort to bring the dance to the level of the academe so that it may be taught to the youngsters and make the dance a part of their life. The Pantomina was taught to four elementary grades pupils and performed at WOW Philippines, Clamshell tent, Intramuros, Manila. This could be taken from the traditional, recreational type but performed for an audience, and may be patterned from the original steps and style of the folk dance but this time, it is taken out of the context of folk culture. There is a choreographer, costumes and props to enhance staging. The dance becomes fixed and ceases to evolve.

When danced by children, Pantomina Catanduanes takes a playful stance. When danced by high school and college students, it takes a controlled, flirty twist. The adults do it with the formality and respect for a special guest.

This folkdance is in its second existence (Encarta, 2000).

The Costume

The costume is a modern version of the original tapis – kimona, a checkered tubular skirt folded right over left and rolled once or twice to keep the folds tightly in place. The upper edge is raised about three inches from the waist and the hemline at midcalf. The kimona has a square neckline, short continious sleeves with about two inches of pleated or sheared ruffles, and the loose bodice also sheared or shallow pleated. The whole kimona reaches 3-5 inches below the waist line.

Today, the kimona is usually made of lighter materials with deeper shears and ruffles that flutter during the dance. The neckline is deeper, but the checkered material is retained to maintain the tapis look and the length is retained at midcalf or at least below the knee in conformity with accepted island modesty.

The Pantomina as a 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. The dance takes the characteristic sexual insinuations of touching, embracing, kissing of the couple, prodded on by the old folks. 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 is in its first existence (Encarta, 2009).

The Pantomina as a Street Dance

In an effort to popularize the dance, the group pushed for the performance of Pantomina Catanduanes on the streets of Virac during the Catandungan Festival of 1998. Since the activity was supposed to celebrate Catandungan culture, it was deemed necessary to underscore what was particularly Catandunganon. A core group was sent by the provincial government to attend the Sinulog Festival in Cebu, to interview the officials and find out how a festival is managed. The group was given special permit and access to the organizers, participants and choreographers. The group made the following realizations: (1) It takes millions of pesos to run a festival. (2) Spectacular performance and participation require thousands of performers per contingent and gigantic props, and (3) It takes about 5-7 years before a festival can establish itself and take root. The provincial government decided to hold the festival and go through the rigors of a first time.

All the eleven (11) municipalities sent a performing contingent, a minimum of 5 entrecuatros, a total of 10 dancing pairs per municipality, plus 4 people to do the bacayao. This particular festival showcased the Pantomina of every municipality, showing off the uniqueness of every town. The late Ramon Obusan came to chair the Board of Judges and record the dance. He even interviewed many of the performers, videotaped them and promised to come up with a dance inspired by what he saw and include such in his international repertoire. He also left two thousand pesos to purchase the tapis originally woven in Bagamanoc and Viga. Unfortunately, a strong typhoon devastated the towns after he left, smashing the weaving looms into pieces and losing them to the ocean waves.

The dance may be in its second existence (Encarta, 2009) but is open to variations and improvisations that may be integrated in the whole interpretation. However, as the dance should be presented in unity and choreographed for street impact and elevated to a festive move, the improvisations are fixed, movements may be enhanced and enlarged and performance of the whole group is synchronized for a riotous, festive effect., highlighted with thunderous sounds of drums and indigeous instruments.

The rhythm may not necessarily be that of the world class Sinulog or Ati-atihan. It must take on a rhythm that would bespeak of the island’s individuality and uniqueness . It should be allowed to switch to another rhythm aside from 2/4 time, as dictated by the appropriate movement.

It was a first time.

The interpretations were not as riotous as hoped for but definitely very festive. It did not depart much from the dance form for staging but recreated the awareness on the dance. In fact, after this activity, a reunion of the Santelices clan in San Andres had everyone on the floor – children, teen-agers, parents, uncles, aunties, grandparents - dancing the Pantomina when the song was played. Buyo Elementary School invited one of the organizers to teach the dance to eight (8) Grade IV pupils. The children presented the dance in their barangay fiesta and were showered with coins by the old folks. Soon enough, other barangays of the Buyo District (Hicming, Poniton, Simamla, Dugui Too) invited them to perform and teach the dance not only to the young people but also to the old folks who have already forgotten the dance steps. Later, they were invited to the programs at the Divsion Office of the Department of Education, having heard about the children who know how to dance Pantomina.

The interest was back.

From 1998 to 2008, the dance was successfully elevated to the contest level with the senior citizens, teachers, college students, high school students and pupils. During the Palarong Bicol of 2008, the teachers of the Division of Catanduanes presented the dance en masse. At the Catanduanes State Colleges, it was made as one contest category during the 38th Charter Celebration 2009. The idea was also picked up by the PTA of the CSC Laboratory Schools and decided to hold a contest of folkdances during the induction party, where Pantomina was one of the features. Even during the faculty induction party, the college professors repeatedly requested for Pantomina to be played to allow them to perform the dance of honor. In the barangays, people perform the dance again in their community activities.

The dance culture is back.

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