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Subli Ritual Dance


Popular in Bauan, Batangas. Here it is performed by the Bayanihan Dance Company. (Cultural Center of the Philippines Library Collection)
(c) From: CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Arts, vol.5 (1994), p.106

It is a dance component of a larger religious ritual commemorating the origin of and devotion to the Santa Cruz (Holy Cross).

Reasons for selection

It represents performing arts traditions in Central Philippines illustrating how Filipinos responded to the coming of Spain and Christianization in the Philippine archipelago.

Essential elements of the performing art

Music, Dance, Lyrics

Detailed explanation

Subli is the dance portion of a devotion performed in honor of the Mahal na Poong Santa Cruz, a large crucifix of anubing wood with the face of the sun in silver at the center. The icon was discovered in the early decades of Spanish rule in what is now the town of Alitagtag, Batangas. It is the patron of many towns in the area, notably the ancient town of Bauan, Batangas.

The subli consists of a long sequence of prayers in verse, songs, and dances, performed in a fixed sequence. The verse recounts the first journey of the early manunubli ( subli performer)through the fields, hills, and rivers of Batangas in search of the miraculous cross. Sections of verse are sung to a fixed punto or skeletal melody, which may be elaborated on in a different way by a different subli troupe.

About five of these punto are used in a complete subli performance. These sections may be divided further into various fixed dance patterns involving one, two or eight pairs of men and women. These numbers seem to be the norm in Bauan, although other towns may have formations involving three pairs at a time. The stances, gestures, and movements of the male dancers are freewheeling and dramatic, consisting of leaping, striking the ground with kalaste (wooden bamboo clappers held in both hands), and other movements suggesting the martial arts. The women circle on half-toe, performing the talik (small refined gestures with wrists and fingers), their fingers grazing the small-brimmed hats and alampay (triangular scarf worn loosely over the shoulder)that are the essential parts of their costume. They dance and sing, to the rhythm beaten out by a stick on the tugtugan, a goblet-shaped, footed drum of langka wood with a head made of iguana skin.
E.R. Mirano

Publication and textual documentation

RIVERA MIRANO, Elena, et. al.
1989 Subli: Isang Sayaw sa 4 na Tinig One Dance in Four Voices .
Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines. In Tagalog.

Audio documentation

no information at present

Visual documentation

At the Cultural Center of the Philippines video and photos documentation section.

Institution/organisation involved in preservation and promotion

no information at present

Data provider

Dr. Florentino H. Hornedo
Ateneo de Manila University
Address: Loyola Heights, Quezon City, Philippines