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Dances of the Heartlands 
presented online in June 2021 during the Annual Philippine Studies Conference 
hosted by SOAS University of London  

In the early 2000s, the proponent of the exhibit began researching on Philippine folk dances, with the keen interest of a visual artist. In 2019, in preparation for a paper presentation, he once again deemed the Visayas region underrepresented in the repertoire of traditional dance concerts and chapters of related literature. Titles of collections of folk dances seem to reveal a dearth of substantial feature on the Philippine heartlands. Common are headings such as, “the Cordilleran Suite,” pertaining to dances of the North Luzon Igorots; “the Maria Clara Suite,” about Spanish-influenced dances; “the Moro/Mindanao Suite”, featuring the dances of largely Muslim groups in Mindanao; and “the Rural Suite”, an apparent catch-all term for secular, provincial dances.

While Tinikling and Cariñosa are known Visayan dances, the titles of the collection in which they are included do not highlight this fact. It is worth noting that there are more, albeit less known, folk dances from this region that could share the spotlight and be presented to a wider audience. As examples of intangible heritage, these folk dances reveal how multi-faceted the Filipino identity is, with geography bringing nuances to the rich diversity.


Through a collection of papercut illustrations depicting various Visayan folk dances, the artist intends to shine a light on the Philippine heartlands, as cradles of these particular artistic expressions. By presenting illustrated tableaus of known and less-known Visayan dances, the artist hopes to encourage informed and insightful conversations about these living traditions. As illustrations, these can be scanned and used in support of educational materials.

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