Being a Filipina has driven my curiosity to learn a lot about my heritage originating in the Philippines. This Pacific Island is known for its tropical weather, which is portrayed by its warm weather more than it is by Hurricane Haiyan (Yolanda) occurring just last year, in 2013. It’s also known for current boxing champ, Manny Pacquiao. It’s known for its food, from adobo to desserts like puto putsinta. However, one cannot explore Filipino culture without at least once encountering the island dance of tinikling.
Tinikling is a dance that consists of two long bamboo sticks being placed parallel to each other on the floor. Before I go any further in this explanation, you should know that this dance requires at least three participants. One of those participants holds the ends of the stick on their side, while the other participant holds the other ends on their side. The final participant is the one that must maneuver their footsteps between the bamboo poles. The two participants holding the bamboo poles coordinate with each other at a rhythm that creates a beat for the dancer in the center to dance to. The dancer must maneuver their feet in a way that allows them to avoid stepping on or getting caught in between the two bamboo stick as they are moving and creating a beat. This dance imitates movements of the tikling bird, a bird that’s native to the Philippines, hence the name “tinikling.”
Although this dance originates in the Philippines, many schools throughout America teach tinikling as an aerobic exercise with the purpose of enhancing coordination and food movements that train speed, not to mention that it also improves rhythm.
This dance, with its grace and quickness, can be done by people of age or ethnicity. I’ve seen great aunts perform this dance. It doesn’t have to incorporate two bamboo poles. This could easily be substituted by any kind of long poles that can create a beat on the ground. Traditionally, Filipina women wear large, brightly-colored dresses when performing this dance for a celebration or party, but most anyone can party with tinikling even when wearing casual clothes.