Southern Mindanao Suite

The coming of the Spaniards in the 16th century brought a new influence in Philippine life. A majority of the Filipinos were converted to Roman Catholicism. European cultural ideas spread and the Filipinos adapted and blended to meet the local conditions. These dances reached their zenith in popularity around the turn of the century, particularly among urban Filipinos. They are so named in honor of the legendary Maria Clara, who remains a symbol of the virtues and nobility of the Filipina woman. Maria Clara was the chief female character of Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere. Displaying a very strong Spanish influence, these dances were, nonetheless, "Filipinized" as evidence of the use of bamboo castanets and the abanico, or Asian fan. Typical attire for these dances are the formal Maria Clara dress and barong tagalog, an embroidered long-sleeve shirt made of pineapple fiber.



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