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Dance CultureLowland Christians
Place of OriginRapu-Rapu, Albay
Ethnolinguistic GroupBicolano
Background / Content

The 1970’s saw the blooming of Philippine nationalism, a much-desired move to educate, conserve, explore and research on everything Philippine. Systematic choosing resulted in labeling of things this, and things that, as national representatives. After shuffling through a long list: a flower, leaf, house, song, food, tree, animal, fish, and a host of other things uniquely Philippine were selected. Cariñosa was suggested to be the national folk dance.

Immediately, objections were voiced out by many sectors, claiming that the Cariñosa is not the appropriate dance to exemplify the Philippine character, sensitivity, feelings, norms and values. Many wonder what criteria they used to base their suggestion. Cariñosa’s choice is meanwhile put to a hold.

The Cariñosa popularized in Rapu-rapu island of Legaspi City in Albay, came from nearby Samar which in turn inherited it from the mainland of Panay. Panay is said to be the home of the Cariñosa. When first introduced in Rapu-rapu, the Cariñosa was a courtship dance performed by a couple but has since metamorphosed into a social dance performed by several couples. First concocted sometime at the turn of the century, when the Philippines was still a repressed society, the Cariñosa followed the strict code of “”Filipino system, no touch””. It was considered scandalous to touch accidentally or otherwise the tip of a lady’s finger. Fierce moral standards dictated that a wedding was the only solution to such a shameful situation. Persistence and coyness characterized Rapu-rapu’s Cariñosa. It is introduced by a love song sung in Bicol. A lady remains impeccably demure, arming herself with a dainty hankie and a scented fan. The hankie perfectly distanced her finger from his, while the fan effectively shields her from attempts to steal a kiss or two.

But this Cariñosa is not that stiff as it seems. It has some light intermezzo movements, which give the dancers movements to relax and let down their hair, as it were. Partners stretch the hankie between them for the hide and seek sequence, wipe each others forehead, fan each other and then finally, chase and run, ending with the man pleading on his knees.

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