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Tan-ok ni Ilocano Festival and the celebration of Guling-Guling 2021 [Ilocano Dance Heritage]

Tan-ok ni Ilocano Festival and the celebration of Guling-Guling 2021 [Ilocos Norte Tourism]



#INDances #IMove

We continue to celebrate our “Tan-ok” month with a showcase of Ilocano folk dances! Using researches by foremost Filipino dance scholars and experts as references, our choreographers, dancers, and costume designers have interpreted 10 extraordinary examples of dances in Ilocos Norte for a modern audience. This online show coincides with the celebration of Guling-Guling, an ancient tradition in the historic town of Paoay.


The Ilocano Dance Heritage Guling-Guling 2021

(A program under Tan-ok ni Ilocano Festival)

Let us celebrate Ilocano Dance Heritage in this special virtual staging of Tan-ok ni Ilocano Festival and the celebration of Guling-Guling 2021. Tune in on this page for a delightful showcase of folk dances of the Ilocano people directed by Randy Leano and filmed in the most scenic and historic sites in Ilocos Norte. 


by EJ Deus

Living Movements, Moving Lives

Our forms of dances are stylistic interpretations of our cultural knowledge. As repositories of ritual symbols, these represent the dynamism of the meaning

conception by our people which strengthens the dances’ socially integrative function. Distinctively, Ilocos Norte’s folk dances are fuselage of infinite cultural elements that constitute the vast and dynamic social, political, economic, artistic, and religious landscapes of Ilocandia. Iti agliplipias a tallaong iti daytoy naisangsangayan a parambak, mangted panangipateg iti kinaasinnotayo nga Ilokano – nasiglat, nasudi, natan-ok!


The ability of movements to stand as dominant ritual symbols is the result of interspersed social processes involving ideological, sensory factors, and cultural events. The discursive formations of kinetic impact, visual images, local narratives, and the ability of movements to mark and communicate identity and capture the nature of the cognitive and concrete phenomenon, are all within the experience of the dancer-the carrier of culture.


Based on Philippine Folk Dances and Songs by Bureau of Public Schools

Filmed at Margaay, Vintar

Ilocana A Nasudi means “The Lovely Ilocana.” This dance is a favorite of the people of Dingras. Originally, this dance was accompanied by a kutibeng, a five-stringed instrument, and as was practiced by the settlers of Barrio Naglayaan, Dingras. The dance is a depiction of the beauty, modesty, and grace of the Ilokana. Moreover, it projects our women as chaste and virtuous. Before, many younger dancers performed this to the Italian folk tune,

Marianina. However, an inquiry from the old people brought out the Ling- lingay, a simple folk tune that could be used to accompany this dance instead of the foreign folk melody. In the course of time, the dance has brought out the qualities of a modern Ilokana known for industry, resilience, and love of work. These are qualities further highlighted by the endless network of “nurturing” communities, ready to help and build up one another and be our strength in aiming for progress and redefining the province.


Based on Philippine Folk Dances Volume VI by Francisca Reyes Aquino

Filmed at Malacanang of the North

Ti Surtido Banna ket maysa a sala a naputar para iti ili ti Banna. Idi un-unana nga aldaw, ti Banna ket indauluan ti maingel ken natured a pangulo nga agnagan ti Chief Bana. Agdindinamag idi ti kinaprogreso daytoy a lugar kadagiti kabangibang nga ili. Maigapo kadaytoy, immay dagiti kaasideg nga umili iti Banna ket isuda ti nangpapintas pay ti kababalin a nadanonda bayat ti intugotda a kannawidan ken kanta. Surtido: kayat na a saw-en, naduma- duma a garaw iti sala, tukar ken kumpas.

Surtido Banna is a dance, which is usually performed during fiestas, manifesting thrift as a trait of our people. It originated in Espiritu, the old name of Banna. It is a variation of the waltz, characterized by variations in tempo. It was first performed in 1970 at the Malacanang Palace during the birthday of President Ferdinand E. Marcos. The beauty of the dance lies in the range of steps and cadence. As time goes by, the dance has been performed by our people who dream and work together for a common goal—to bring peace and progress in our province through constant cooperation and unconditional sharing of skills and resources.


Naisalsalumina a puli ni Ilokano. Pagdidinnamagan ti kinagaget, kinasaririt, ken kinasaldetna. Idi un-unana, dagiti dadduma nga appotayo, napanunotda ti mapan agubra diay ballasiw-taaw tapnu agsarak ti gasat, uray kasano’t iliw iti pamilya. Ket kadaytoy a pasamak, intugotda ti kulturatayo iti sabali a pagilian. Uray man pay kasta, ti latta daga a nakaiyanakan ti balitok kadakuada. This has remained true through ages past, with generations of overseas workers and migrants exiting the country and establishing new roots while also supporting and loving their families, their histories, back home. Our people have pioneered success and greatness across the globe. Our forefathers’ cultural resilience has lived on to inspire the modern Ilokano diaspora and to weave an extraordinary legacy for the next generations.


Based on Ilocano Folk Dances by Teresita Pascua Ines and accounts from the Isnag Community of the Carasi

Filmed in Carasi, Ilocos Norte

Talip is a dance from Carasi. It is usually performed by natives during fiestas, weddings, a mourning of the dead, and ceremony after burial. It has been a powerful symbol of harmony and admiration within diverse populations, likewise depicting the devout faith and spiritual values of the people of Carasi, shared to the rest of the Ilokano community. As part of the province’s Indigenous Cultural Community, the townspeople of Carasi place a great value on the preservation and continuous practice of our rich tradition and culture, showcasing tribal rituals that signify our sense of unity, our belief in the spirit protector, and the cosmic connectedness which the people, the wilds, the and galaxies all share. With the men and women in their intricate traditional attire, the dancers shall showcase the old, unspoiled tradition highlighting indigenous songs, games and movements.


Based on Philippine Folk Dances Volume VI by Francisca Reyes Aquino

Filmed at cape Bojeador Lighthouse

Dances are indicative of our traditions and vital agents in the formation of future ideals. Indeed, dances transcend the concept of time. As our historical timeline progresses, these artistic bodily performances, also evolve and show their reflexive characteristics. The Innalisan is a lively festival dance from Laoag. The term innalis means to transfer from one place to another. This dance underscores the concepts of creating relations between the people, the physical environment, the social

landscape, the divine realm, and the artistic perspective. The people of Ilocos Norte take much pride in our togetherness, working for common goals, and strengthening and fortitude of our social network: we are a people who, despite geographical distance, continue to gather in mind and heart to build better lives with and for one another.


Based on Philippine Dances Volume I by Carmen Tabije Andin

Filmed at Piddig Church

The Jota Aragonesa is a complex folk-dance exhibiting numerous individualistic characteristics that result from combining the traditional dance with its appropriate costumes, steps, and accompaniment. It is one of the dances introduced by the Spaniards in the old town of Paoay. The title suggests that it originated in Aragon, Spain. According to old folks, dancers used to perform with castanets on each hand. However, a substitute can be made by the snapping of the thumb and forefinger to produce the sound.

The Jota Aragonesa is in essence a particular form of social interaction. It has been an integral part of a network of local events, our knowledge and belief, and behavior, norms, and values. Among the elderly elite folks of the town, it has always been a pride to be able to perform this dance especially during big social gatherings such as the Two- Year Ball on the eve of January 1st, the Tambora of Christmas Eve, and the Guling-Guling on the eve of the Ash Wednesday.


Dancing is a rhythmic process and is performed at the finest levels of virtuosity; the dancer practices the art of grace, harmony, and precision. Particularly, heritage dances require extensive knowledge and exceptional skills for the bodily movements, through constant study, to become memory- saturated. Thus, dancers serve as repositories of cultural knowledge and formal stylistic interpretation. Their experiences and histories that manifest while performing embody a fragment or totality of an identity.


Philippine Folk Dances Volume III by Francisca Reyes Aquino

Filmed at Solsona-Apayao Road

Kinoton was derived from the Ilocano word koton which means ants. This comic dance from the Ilocos region depicts the movements of a person bitten by ants. In social gatherings where close friends and intimates are in attendance, this dance is performed to make people merry. Usually, a male requested to perform this dance.


Based on Ilocano Folk Dances by Teresita Pascua Ines

Filmed at Dingras Church

Chotis Dingreña is a lively performance from Dingras, Ilocos Norte. It is usually performed during big social gatherings. The dance is very popular among the elite group and used as an intermission dance when the people are already tired dancing the ballroom dances. It is viewed as an indicator of the actual social status and a reverence to the babaknang as an elite social class to further articulate their status. The dance is a manifestation of our class-conscious attitude, thus revealing some of our dominant values and ideologies.


Our dances epitomize the intense passion, creativity, and diversity in the province, as well as our people’s love for celebration. These performances also mark the ingenuity of the Ilokano people, entwined to our value of keenness – a thriving evidence of our rich culture and identity. Our celebration of Ilocos Norte’s heritage dances is likewise a fitting tribute to our kakailian, who, like our performers, bear an equal responsibility of communicating our culture-from our handwoven textiles, costume construction, fabled gustatory, to our collective consciousness.


Philippine Folk Dances Volume VI by Francisca Reyes Aquino

Filmed at La Tabacalera de Currimao and Malacanang of the North

Binatbatan is an occupational dance from Paoay. The dance depicts the beating of cotton pods to separate the seeds from the fibers with the use of two sticks called batbat. To process the raw material used in weaving, ginne cotton was beaten with a pair of sticks sounding a clear and distinct rhythm on a carabao hide to separate fiber strands. The people of Paoay are known for their fabled skill in weaving a heritage cloth called abel. Oftentimes, weavers engage in a contest as to who could finish first and could produce cleaner and more fibers. The celebration of loom-weaving features Ilocos Norte’s mythic woven designs out of raw bright cotton threads. It is not only a manifestation of our people’s industriousness but also our weavers’ artistic consciousness and mastery of cultural knowledge. When weavers wish to have a merrymaking, they sing and use the batbat in a dance. They prance between and out of parallel sticks without stepping on them, showing their expertise, ingenuity, and brilliance. The tempo of the beating and the rhythmic resonance produced by sticks make the dance festive, vibrant, and zestful. Over the years, the Binatbatan has been one of the province’s amalgams, connecting every Ilokano to our cultural roots through our diligence in labor, prolific narratives, and fondness of revelry.


Based on Ilocano Folk Dances by Teresita Pascua Ines

Filmed at Gabut Norte, Badoc

Dinaklisan originated from Currimao, a town where fishing is the chief industry. It is also an Ilocano term with the variety, agdaklis, meaning to fish with the use of a net. It has been a testament to hard work, resilience, and endurance that is espoused by the town’s fisherfolks. Dinaklisan highlights the role of the people of Currimao who inspire the whole community as they altogether defy the law of the seas. Moreover, it sheds light on the natural bounties that the coastal municipality is blessed with, and a time to bond together with the community, thankful not only for material blessings but also for social ties that strengthen the people in times of crisis. Through time, our people have redefined the meaning of panagdaklis- progress and growth, including the vital aspect of environmental preservation and conservation, especially with both livelihood and tourism being dependent on our coast and our ocean. Daytoy ti maysa kadagiti sekreto iti kinaandor dagiti mangngalap iti Currimao. Nu maminsan bassit ti makalapan, ngem nu maminsan aglaplapunusan. Ngem, dumteng man ti dawel, awan iti saanda a malasat.


Based on Tadek: Traditional Dance of the People of Nueva Era by Master’s

Zyrill Ianna Pauline Nolasco Domingo-Pe Benito

Filmed at Madongan Dam, San Marcelino, Dingras

The vigorous Tadek In-daya is an ethnic dance that originated in Ilocos Norte, featuring ceremonial dances portraying death customs, courtship, marriage, and victory; a manifestation of the people of Nueva Era’s efforts to preserve the distinct culture that binds them together in the highlands. It has been performed by the people in the eastern part of Nueva Era on different occasions such as, after burial. It is believed to cause the soul of the dead to rest. Also, it is staged during a wedding where it depicts merry-making for the married couples and entertain visitors. On courtship, a man and a woman perform the dance, swaying their hands and stomping their feet while following the beat of the gong and drum. Moreover, it is performed as a ritual for the healing of illnesses. Over time, it has been a showcase of the indigenous culture and a repository of collective consciousness and heroic narratives. The breath-taking performance of rituals is a fuselage enriching the province’s cultural landscape. Furthermore, it highlights the mutually nurturing relationship between the people of Nueva Era and their environment; giving praise and gratitude to their deities to whom they owe the abundance of their harvest.



The Ilocano Folk Dance Festival is indeed the perfect essence of our greatness. Undeniably, our culture and the arts are powerful instruments in fostering unity in the community and pride in our heritage. As we altogether recover from the effects of the pandemic, this festival has revived the creativity and livelihood of designers, performers, choreographers, and other artists in the province, inspiring and reassuring them that their passion has a place in Ilocos Norte.


The Guling-guling of Paoay is celebrated every March right before the proverbial St. Agustin Church. As part of a sacred tradition, the dance highlights the smearing of the cross on a person’s forehead using wet, white rice flour, as a form of cleansing from sins. This practice was introduced by the Spanish friars which has been celebrated for more than 400 years now. Included in the celebration is the commemoration of the founding of the St. Augustine’s Church which is a living testament of the people of Paoay’s commitment and loyalty to their faith. Hence, in celebration of the Guling-guling, the townsfolk don themselves in the famous abel and dance  their way to the church where they are met by the priest who imprints the sign of the cross or guling on their foreheads. For centuries, it has been marking each time a season of greater faith and devotion among our people to the Almighty God. Today, the Guling-guling inspires us to recommit and truly demonstrate our faith in our lives as we all unite in praying for continuous progress, our rapid recovery, and abundance for all of our kakailian.


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