ICHCAP ICH Video Documentary Series #6: Traditional Igal Dance in the Philippines

Traditional Igal Dance in the Philippines © ICHCAP

Igal is a fast but gentle dance that is shared by the Sama people of Tawi-Tawi Island, located in the southernmost part of the Philippines, and the people of the western provinces of Mindanao. Igal is called Pangalay in Tausug and Pamansak in Yakan, all meaning ‘dance’.

Igal has no specific choreography and is improvised without repeated movements. It is also rooted in the form of worship performed with the body. It expresses the ecstasy that accompanies the tauhid, that is, the manifestation of a divine being, and tries to become one with nature through dance and get closer to God. Igal is a dance of the moment. Basically, there is no song, and it proceeds in smooth and soft movements according to the sound of traditional instruments, and this music is an important element that inspires the dancer’s movements. While other dances move faster in proportion to the beat of music, the Igal dance moves slower as the music speeds up. Also, when performing the Igal dance, an ornament called Janggay is worn on the fingers, which maximizes the movement of the fingers to add elegance and artistry. The characteristic of dancing is to not stop moving the hands until the end of the dance, and to avoid excessive body movements.

The Igal dance is an important element that expresses the cultural identity of the Sama people, and it has inspired modern dance and contemporary art creations in the Philippines. In the Simunul region, local festival dances were created based on the Igal dance, and this phenomenon is an important part of the life of today’s generation, and it is an important example of vitality and reinvention handed down to tomorrow’s generation.

This traditional Igal dance of the Philippines video is one of the 10 ICH video Documentary Series, which is the result of the collaborative project between ICHCAP and National Commission for Culture and the Arts(NCCA) in the Philippines. Both organizations aim to raise visibility and strengthen the public’s access to ICH in the Philippines through this project.

Videos represent the most accurate method of capturing ICH as it exists in the real world, as well as being effective tools for communicating with the public. ICHCAP will endeavor to continue vividly documenting the scenes of ICH that are hidden across the Asia-Pacific region with the aim of raising the profile of ICH elements as treasures of humanity and introducing them to the public.

Please refer to the brochure for more information on the Philippines ICH video documentary.