Pangalay, tagunggu music come to the heart of Los Angeles

Participants learn and practice pangalay.

Participants learn and practice pangalay.

It was clear where the heart of Los Angeles was this past Saturday as a group of curious minds danced and created music in the Lafayette Park and Recreation Center.

FilAm ARTS had the honor of hosting the first of its traditional arts series, “Pangalay: Movements and Sounds of the Sulu Zones”, a traditional dance and music workshop.

Peter de Guzman, Resident Artistic Director of Malaya Filipino American Dance Arts, facilitated the dance portion of the workshop while Bernard Ellorin from the Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble led the music portion.

Peter de Guzman facilitates the pangalay portion of the workshop.

Peter de Guzman facilitates the pangalay portion of the workshop.

De Guzman opened with a beautiful demonstration of pangalay (“gift” or “offering”), an ancient traditional dance from the Sulu province, capturing the attention of all the attendees. Pangalay is known for its elaborate body postures and intricate hand and arm movements, therefore requiring a great amount of concentration and attention to detail. Those who attended the workshop were able to find out how difficult the dance truly is as they repeatedly practiced the body postures and movements of pangalay. However, this did not stop participants from wanting to learn more about the dance and its deep history.

Small groups were formed as De Guzman closely watched, assisting those whose body postures or hand and arm gestures needed to be corrected. When participants were given time to freely practice on their own, the hypnotizing tagunggu gong ensemble music played by Ellorin allowed them to get lost in the music. Pangalay can be danced for hours and the music that is played encourages dancers to do so.

De Guzman ended the dance workshop with a demonstration of the more masculine side of pangalay. The movements were swifter and stronger compared to those of the feminine side of pangalay, but still elaborate and captivating.

Bernard Ellorin demonstrates the kulintang before administering the second half of the workshop.

Bernard Ellorin demonstrates the kulintang before administering the second half of the workshop.

The second portion of the workshop focused on the tagunggu gong ensemble music, a form of kulintang, also from the Sulu province. Kulintang is an ancient instrumental form of music that is characterized by its use of gongs and drums. Ellorin demonstrated how each of the gongs and drums are played and gave participants the chance to try the instruments themselves.

Willing volunteers played alongside Ellorin as he taught them the rhythmic patterns that make the music so mesmerizing.

Participants have a hand at playing the kulintang and the gong, while a young participant practices pangalay.

Participants have a hand at playing the kulintang and the gong, while a young participant practices pangalay.

As Ellorin and some of the participants played the tagunggu gong ensemble music, De Guzman and the rest of the participants danced pangalay. Seeing and hearing the two components together after learning about their techniques and histories made this the most memorable part of the workshop.

Pork belly hash provided by Benaddictz.

Pork belly hash provided by Benaddictz.

After the workshop our friends from Benaddictz stopped by to let us try some of their new dishes, the pork belly sisig hash and vegan mushroom adobo, both of which were very masarap!

Our beautiful workshop participants striking a pangalay pose! 

Our beautiful workshop participants striking a pangalay pose! 

FilAm ARTS thanks Peter de Guzman and Bernard Ellorin once again for facilitating the workshop, Benaddictz for providing great food for the attendees, HOLA for allowing us to hold the workshop in the Lafeyette Park and Recreation Center, and everyone who attended the workshop.

Please keep an eye out for more events and workshops coming soon!