The Fierce preservation and promotion of Filipino culture through the Tinikling
The Tinikling was first recorded to be performed during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. It's origin is said to have resulted from punishment ordained by the King of Spain where subjects were to stand between two bamboo sticks. The dance, can be inferred as a satirization or a taunt against Colonial rule. Seemingly since its purpose is for celebratory or ceremonial means and is performed on Filipino Independence Day.
The photo on the left was taken by US Air Force/Senior Airman Nestor Cruz which demonstrates Members from the Philippine Cultural Dancers group performing Tinikling during the Asian Pacific Heritage Month celebration May 26 at the Kadena Air Base, Japan, exchange parking lot.
Bright colors are always used in these performances to resemble the emote of happiness
"One of the better known Philippine folk dances. They have to remove their feet from between the poles before the poles are struck against each other." © Ramon2002 / Flickr
The amount of people performing Tinikling does not have a symbolic significance, but at least 3 people are necessary to fulfill its purpose.
May 25, 2016: The Filipino Cultural Association of The University of Maryland (College Park) perform. Fort Meade celebrated Asian Pacific Heritage Month. Photo by: Daniel Kucin Jr. Baltimore Sun
The more dancers there are, the more visually appealing Tinikling can be.
Males and females dancing the Tinikling © Louis Tan / Flickr
The arrangement of the poles are meant to indicate the difficulty of the dance as they can sometimes be crossed with others
Dancing the Tinikling | © Shubert Ciencia / Flickr
The Philippines in particular, however, presents two conflicting ideals that immigrants can take away with them. When remembering the Philippines and invoking it’s lifestyle in a different place, a divisive method is imposed. After the era of Spanish and American colonization, eurocentric supremacy continued its presence within the Philippine media. Most specifically within movies, TV shows, and commercials which is realized through the predominant use of half white/half filipino actors and actresses. This consistent promotion of fair skinned Filipinos with european features others those who bare little resemblance to them. When watching Filipino movies in the United States, there’s a sense of disconnect between the screen and its viewers. Essentially since the audience it’s meant to sympathize with look nothing like the people presented to them.
The example to the left, is a Philippine drama meant to take place in a pre-colonial, mythological world. After stills of the show was released, the nature of its casting came into question. Only to emphasize "why a bunch of ancient Filipinos would be half white" and why they would be played by "mestizo actors covered in Bronzer" (Macasero).
Growing up in the United States with American media, I always wanted someone on the TV screen or the movies who looked like me. Since there was little Filipino representation, I was desperate for anyone who looked like me. This person was Brenda Song who played London Tipton on “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody”. Back then, I didn’t realize how powerful a tool the media could be. The only Asian actress I could relate to portrayed an unintelligent and ditsy character. Even though this was perceived only for entertainment and comedic purposes, the timing of the show makes it inappropriate for young minds to absorb-especially young girls. Seemingly, since she was the only Asian American character that was female in all of Disney Channel during the early 2000’s. Growing up, even under the age of 10, I understood how harmful it was to have the only Asian representation presented to the youth as solely the source of comic relief.
The photo to the left is a promotional photo for Season 3 of the Suite Life of Zack and Cody ©Disney
According to Heather Yabut, a student at UC Berkeley and a member of the Filipino pre-health club, Tinikling is a significant aspect in the Philippine identity. According to her, “performing Tinikling at our school campus is an important way to connect or even reconnect with our culture” (Yabut). She emphasizes the setting in which it is performed since “college is a place for finding your identity and who you are” (Yabut). Given the specific performance in focus, “when we perform Tinikling it reaffirms our pride in our heritage as well as teaches us about our history” which current Philippine Media has avoided taken the responsibility for.