By By Ramonfelipe A. Sarmiento
Pantomina Catanduanes (Last of 7 Parts)
posted 6-Jun-2010  ·  
6,961 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

Discussion of Findings

We present here basic patterns we see, unique movements we identify, steps common to some versions and questions raised along the way.

3.1 The Dance

Documenting a dance is like capturing a bird in flight. It is very dynamic and changes every time we come to document the dancers and the movements. Since during the early part of making observations the video camera was still very expensive, we did not have this equipment to capture the performances in its essence. We relied on memory of observations, aided with notes taken. Still pictures using the camera could only capture small particular moments.

It helps when the researcher is present in many community celebrations – weddings, vesper balls, PTA functions, special parties for regional and national officials, blessing of establishments and government infrastructure, foundation anniversaries – where guests are made to perform the dance of honor, the Pantomina. Then one can be an objective observer, taking in all the details of the performance.

Pantomina Catanduanes in its first existence (Encarta, 2000) is formal and predictable. The execution of paso, binanog and the Bicol engaño is practically the same. The variations are dictated by a creative male performer whose imagination and sense of freedom to execute improvisations increase after a drink or two of liquor. This must be the reason why people around the dancer encourage him with a drink while he moves around during the paso looking for his female partner. Several people share a drink with the guest as an acknowledgement of his presence. Other people consider it also an honor to be able to do that. By the time the male dancer takes the floor, he would be tipsy enough to remove inhibitions. If the chosen female partner is also creative, she would make improvisations in response to the movements of the male dancer. However, she would be more inhibited than the man. The effect is one of female modesty with controlled evasive movements in response to the male’s more aggressive ones. The whole picture stays close to the Philippine traditional concept of courtship.

The naughty turn of sexual innuendos happen in rural weddings where the old folks are more uninhibited after several gulps of tuba or beer, or a shot of gin. Young couples these days dance the Pantomina more for the prospect of receiving gifts in cash or in kind. Most of them do not really know how to perform this particular dance but they still go ahead with this practice. For the culture part, it may well be to preserve the tradition where everyone is encouraged to share in the first income of the newlyweds as a couple. When the leader-announcer is good, cash gifts could range from five thousand up to more than a hundred thousand. Pledges of a piece of land, a carabao, a few heads of pigs or chicken could also enhance the gifts. These come up when the families of the bride and the groom are enticed to outdo each other.

Up to this time, Pantomina in its first existence is still learned without a choreographer, without fixed feet movements. What exist are general terms paso, binanog, sigay. How they are to be executed are passed on by example as seen from other dancers, most often, the old folks. But since less and less people performed the dance as the years passed, it was necessary to capture what still exist to prevent them from being forgotten altogether.

Pantomina Catanduanes in its second existence has been organized and formalized in dance steps carefully chosen from observed steps of the folks. The steps have been enhanced for staging, choreographed and fixed in dance notation so that the steps may be passed on from generation to generation. However, freedom to improvise was retained in the last portion when the male pursues the female.

For the street dance, some steps were adapted from the fixed steps and expanded for a fancier version. The choreographers wanted to come up with something different from the beat and steps popularized by famous street dances of Sinulog of Cebu and Ati-atihan of Aklan. However, they were inhibited by the culture of the island and limited by training and underexposure. At present, there are efforts to come up with a more festive, faster, grander version that would cater to the national concept of a street dance. However, the group still insists that while it encourages, newer, more modern versions, they should not depart from the ancestral root in order to retain its uniqueness and identity.

3.2 The Song

Not much changes happened to Pantomina, the song. They still sing the same songs that were popularized long ago.

Here lies the difference between the two songs. Pantomina Menor has a provision for pure music interlude, fast and playful. It contradicts the title Menor. It also provides for the entrance of the bakayaw. There is none in the Mayor version. This must be the reason why the Menor is more popular.

3.3 The History

According to Mr. Simeon C, Borja and Mr. Antonio Arcilla, the song and the dance already existed since they were children. The recording of the 78 rpm was in the late 50s; the 45 rpm in 1963. In 1998, Nonong Icaranom of Isla made his own recording. The current popular version was recorded by Mr. Domingo V. Zafe thru his company, Ibalong Records.

The many other versions of the song, some songs improvised on the spot are now lost in the passage time. They have not been passed through the generations. What remained are the two versions- Mayor and Menor – which have been recorded. This could be the reason why they stayed. The recording worked where oral tradition did not.

This justifies documentation while the material is still there. The practice may fix the dance and the song at a certain point and cause the cultural practice to stagnate, but documentation saves the material and the culture from dying. After all, when the practice is revived, it can still be lowered to the community level of spontaneity and improvisation.


Based on the findings, the following conclusions are forwarded:

1. Pantomina Catanduanes is a courtship dance widely popular in Catanduanes imitating the rooster and the hen in courtship. It is danced with the Pantomina song.

2. Its forms are in 2 existence - 1st existence - dance of honor, wedding dance, communal dance ; 2nd existence - folkdance in the academe, streetdance. In the 1st existence , it is unchoreographed, not taught but caught. In its 2nd existence, it is fixed, choreographed and notated.

3. In the community, Pantomina Catanduanes is a dance of honor. It is a rite of passage. It is a festive expression of the self. It unites the people in a common cultural expression.

4. It evolves through time. It is enhanced by the creativity of the dancers

and the mood of the occasion. It is enriched by improvisations and nuances of the different municipalities. It is also enhanced with observations of performances outside the province.


1. The evolution of the dance through time should be monitored and recorded so that it remains attached to the ancient root.

2. The folk art in the dance as interpreted by different levels (age, social status, ) should be recorded and appreciated.

3. The province should promote the dance as an expression of its people.




1. Nolasco, Cynthia D. 1994. The ethnography of speaking the

Bikol folk songs text context and performances.

Unpublished dissertation, Doctor of Arts in Language and Literature. DLSU.

Scientific Paper:

1. Placides, Amie Monica S. 1996. Pantomina in Catanduanes.

Unpublished paper submitted to Professor Asuncion. UPLB.


1. H Blog! " Pantomina. 2009. Official Website Of Alpha Music Corporation.2009.

2. Pantomina de Samar | - Philippine Dance Network.2009.

3. Pantomina de Samar: WikiPilipinas: The Hip and Free. 2009.

4. Pantomina de Sorsogon. 2009. –

5. Philippine Folk Dance and Music | LIKHA Pilipino Folk Ensemble.2009.

6. PANTOMINA Lyrics - Bicol Songs.2009. pantomina-lyrics-306.html

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