Tag Archives: tinikling



The tinikling is a dance performed by Filipino people where the dancers hop between two bamboo poles held on either side by other performers, as the bamboo poles are tapped on the ground in a specific rhythm.


The informant is 67, was born and raised in the United States, and whose parents were born and raised in the Philippines. She performed this dance for school as part of physical education and sometimes for school performances. The dance was taught by the school as the national dance of the Philippines. 


Tinikling, the national folk dance of the Philippines, is a dance inspired by the movements of the bird that it is named after. Though there are many stories about the origin of this dance, the one with most historical context is that it arose among the indigenous Filipino people after Spanish colonists would punish the Filipino people working in their plantations by smacking their feet with bamboo sticks. Therefore, the form of folk dance that evolved from this punishment serves as an act of rebellion against past colonization and occupation, as well as a celebration of Filipino heritage. The dance is performed not only in the Philippines, but survives in the younger generations who perform the dance, usually in cultural clubs at universities.


Steven “Ricky” Phillips was the son of a military family.  They moved around from base to base quite a bit.  He lived in the Philippines for a number of years before moving to The United States of America.  His father was in the Air Force and met his mother in the Philippines while stationed at the Clark Air Base.  Ricky currently resides in Yucaipa, CA with his wife and two daughters.  He is a Branch Manager for JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A.


Somewhere in the middle of the earthquake and the eruption, I had the opportunity to discover more about our culture.  One popular activity is a dance called the Tinikling.  It generally involves two people partnering and dancing between two bamboo poles while another pair slap the sticks on the ground and then slide together.

The origin of this dance isn’t as festive.  It is believed to come from a time when in the 1500s the Spaniards conquered and surpressed the Filipino people, who spent most of their time in the rice paddies.  The Spaniards would punish those who did not work well by making the worker stand between two bamboo poles while they beat the poles against their legs.  After a while, in an attempt to avoid getting hurt, the workers would jump to escape the punishment.  The dance is now named after a local bird as it describes its leg movements, and the dance continues as a maneuver to avoid the sliding bamboo.