“Once the pantomina music starts playing the urge to dance is so heightened for those present in the barayle (public dance event) especially those of the older set. They could not contain themselves on their seat (diri mapa-udong sa ingkodan),” so said Amador, the gregarious and talkative carpenter currently working in our house. This must be true. In fact I counted the pantomina music airing in the public sound system to be the most played number on any given occasion in Bulusan.
The music is a Bicol traditional folk music often played in merrymaking events from weddings to fiestas to coronation of a local beauty queen and even to welcome a newly elected mayor or just a simple village barayle. But it is only in Bulusan that I have observed closely the magic of this irresistible music to coax Bulusanon’s oldies and not so old to dance and sway with this Bicolandia’s iconic dance, the Pantomina. Its origin as a courtship dance is very much evident in the movements of the dancers where one is permitted to improvise. The effect is a pantomime where the male dancer pleases his partner in the form of spontaneous body-language-dance/gestures of courtship from kneeling to flirty hovering around his demure and coy yet flirtatious (preferred dance gestures for the female during the pantomina) dance partner. Together the dancing pair appears to be imitating a pair of doves in a ritual dance of courtship.
This video (above) taken during the Kasanggayahan festivities in Sorsogon was a choreographed Pantomina performed by public school teachers representing the Municipality of Bulusan. Although choreographed for the event, the performance nevertheless will give a hint on why the music/dance is such a twin hit i.e. music and dance in one in Bulusan. In my view, no music captures perfectly the joyful rhythm of the locals other than the Pantomina.
Video from YouTube (Kasanggayahan Festival, Sorsogon City, 2011)