Philippine Folk Dances: Descriptions & Video Examples


Here are the descriptions and video examples of Philippine folk dances

These are the descriptions of different Philippine folk dances and the video examples of each kind.

Folk dances have been a part of the culture of the Philippines even in this modern era. Schools are still teaching these kinds of dances. This way, the present generation still has the knowledge about the past culture of the country.

philippine folk dances

Sayaw sa Bangko

This dance is performed on top of a narrow bench or “bangko”. Good balance is the needed skill for this dance. History stated that Sayaw sa Bangko originated in areas of Pangapisan, Lingayen and Pangasinan.


Magkasuyo came from the Quezon province. It is a variation of the balse – the one-two-three graceful triple meter that Filipino traditional dance borrowed from the Spanish waltz. The folk dance is also a series of close-step-close movements with a couple facing each other in a courtship configuration.


This dance is best described as a mimic the way a duck walks, as well as the way it splashes water on its back to attract a mate. According to the tradition, a lady named Kanang did the choreography of Itik-itik in a baptismal party. Then, other guests copied her movements.


Binasuan, which originated in Bayambang in the Pangasinan province, is usually performed at festive social occasions like weddings and birthdays. The steps concentrate on careful balance of three half-filled glasses of rice wine on their heads and hands as they gracefully spin and roll on the ground. 


Throughout the years, Tinikling has been considered as the Philippine National Dance. The choreography of this dance imitates the movements of tinikiling bird as it walks around through tall grass and between tree branches. Dancers perform Tinikling with bamboo poles.


According to the tradition, Maglalatik is performed during religious procession in the fiesta of Biñan as an offering to San Isidro de Labrador, the patron saint of farmers. It is a mock war dance that depicts a fight over coconut meat, a highly-prized food. Male dancers are using coconut shells as part of their costume. The dance has 4 parts: two devoted to the battle and two devoted to reconciling. 


This folk dance is the courtship between two sweethearts. Dancers make a number of flirtatious movements as they hide behind fans or handkerchiefs and peek out at one another.


Polkabal has European influence in its steps which is composed of nine different steps which include various movements such as fluttering, stepping heel-to-toe, a reenactment of a bull fight, and even a leisurely walk.


Surtido means “assortment,”. It is a square dance which combines influences of French, Spanish and Mexican dance. According to the tradition, this dance is performed by a head couple accompanied by two other couples who lead all the dancers through various formations that resemble an old-fashioned quadrille.


Traditionally, single women perform this dance to attract the attention of potential suitors. It is a series of graceful movements as they step in and out from between bamboo poles which are rhythmically clapped together. Props such as fans and scarves are often used to enhance the movements.

La Jota Moncadeña

This one example of Philippine Folk Dances is from an old Spanish dance which is a combination of Spanish and Ilocano dance steps set to Spanish music and castanets. Its more solemn version is performed to accompany funeral processions.


This is also dance of courtship and is often performed at weddings and other social occasions. Its three parts are divided for: first, the couple performs a waltz; in the second part, the music sets a faster pace as the man pursues the woman around the dance floor in a chase; for the third part, the music becomes even faster as the man wins over the woman with his mating dance.

Pandanggo sa Ilaw

This dance which originated in Lubang Island is similar to a Spanish Fandango, but the Pandanggo is performed while balancing three oil lamps – one on the head, and one in each hand.

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