The Arts of Tau't Bato
 
The Tau’t Bato, being sensitive to their natural environment, are artistically expressive and creative people. They compose their songs, choreograph their dances and play their own games. The study of Dadaeg (2003) revealed how the Tau’t Bato compose their songs and play their musical instruments.
 
Music of the Tau’t Bato
(Click here for the video version of this topic.)
The Music of the Tau’t Bato is basically mimetic. Mimetic means a stylized imitation of the sounds made by animals in the forests such as the chirping of the birds.


An example of this is a woman playing a jaw’s harp or Aruding (see photo on the right). The Tau’t Bato says it is an imitation of the sound of a bird which they call, “tanguk”. The Tanguk, as described by the Tau’t Bato men, is just a bit smaller than a full grown chicken. It has green feathers like a parrot and can be seen in the forests of Mantalingahan.
The lyrics, on the other hand, are based on what they think and feel at different situations. They usually sing while watching the movement of the birds and other animals and during merry-making.

“Kandidi” is a general term for songs that are sung by more than two singers and the lyrics are done in a conversational manner. The first singer spontaneously expresses his thought through the song and the second singer responses to the first and so on (Click on the image to see the video of Emparay as he sings Lantigi.)

Another song is called "Lantigi".  It tells a story of a bird called “Limukon”, similar to a pigeon dove, found by a man near a well. The man wants to hold the bird but the bird tells him she doesn’t want to be touched. Emparay, the man (in the picture on the right) who sings the song tells the listeners that long ago, birds and men can talk with one another. 
There are also songs for courtship, lullabies and worship.

An example of a lullaby is the “Kulilal” which the Tau’t Bato learned from their Muslim neighbors. This is usually accompanied by a wind instrument called a “Suling”. The lyrics is also Pala’wan which means “sleep now my child, mother still has work to do.”

Back to top
 
Musical Instruments used by the Tau’t Bato
 
The Tau’t Bato are fond of singing with the accompaniment of the following musical instruments:

Pagang. It is an instrument made of a piece of bamboo with thirteen cords. It is placed in between the thighs and held by both hands while being played facing the singer.

Pagang

Kudlong. This serves as guitar of the Tau’t Bato but it has two cords only. It is made of wood but can produce good sound.

Suling. An instrument made of small bamboo, about 12 cms long with four holes, and pieces of rattan are tied at each end. It produces sound when blown.

Aruding. An instrument made of a small piece of bamboo. This is called "jaw's harp" in English. It is placed near the mouth and blown to produce sound.

This musical instrument can be made by using a bolo or “itak”. A stick of bamboo is carved and a pebble is stuck to help produce the sound while an extract of honey is used to put the pieces together. An ideal tool to make this delicate instrument would be a small knife because the intricate design of the instrument demands the use of a thin, sharp object.

Back to top
 
Tau’t Bato Dances
The dances and games of the Tau’t Bato depicted their culture, customs and traditions as revealed in the study of Banez in 1997.

The Tarek. Tau’t Bato called their most popular dance “Tarek” sometimes called "sapa-sapa". It is performed all night during their “Basal” celebration or in social gatherings, religious and festival activities and thanksgiving celebration for a good harvest.

The dance step pattern of the tarek is the progressive forward dance with a step pattern of feet stamping. The feet are stamped alternately going forward in a circular motion.  The hands holding the “palaspas” or dried palm leaves tied together like pompoms, move up and down alternately.  

Dancers wear patadyong and any kind of blouse. Only the girls are allowed to dance the "Tarek" while the boys play the instruments: gimbal, sanang and gong.

“Tarek” will last as desired by the performers. When tired, they just rest for a while and continue the dance. “Tarek” starts from sunset until the sunrise.

Dance
(Click on the image above to see the Tarek dance.)
 

The “Toron” The “Toron” is a dance performed by the “babaylan” to cure the sick. The Tau’t Bato believes that those who are sick are possessed by bad spirits.

A “Babaylan”, usually a female Tau’t Bato (but this can also be played by men), is a priestess performing the rituals in honor of their God named “Ampo” which means the Unseen. She also acts as the healer or the “herbolario”. As a priest/priestess, he or she invokes the good spirits and drives away bad spirits from those possessed by them.

The dancer wears a patadyong. It has a step pattern of little jumping steps, moving around the sick person while the hands holding the “palaspas” are raised up and down alternately.

The same instruments used in “Tarek” are also used in performing the “Toron”.

The Toron will last until the Babaylan collapses for they believed that a spirit had come inside his body to cure the sick.

Toron
(Click on the image above to see the Toron dance.)
Back to top
 
Clothing and Accessories
 

The female Tau’t Bato wears patadyong and nothing on top and under.

However, the women started wearing shirts as they interact and barter products with the lowlanders.

They are fond of wearing accessories like earrings, necklaces, rings out of beads made by themselves.

According to the study of Cardejon (2003), the PANAMIN during the Marcos regime gave them beads and colorful dresses preserved until now.

The male Tau’t Bato wears bahag or G-string. Many men learned to wear shorts and shirts later since clothes from "ukay-ukay" or relief clothes are affordable.

Back to top
 
Games
 
Tau’t bato plays for physical development and for recreation. The games primarily function as strength trainings for the players to prepare them later for hunting and gathering skills. These games are classified into individual and dual games.  They follow simple rules but are dangerous if not difficult to play. Feuding members are not allowed to play the dual games to avoid doing serious harm to each other. One interesting feature of a Tau’t Bato game is its mimetic nature. “Biyuk-biyuk” is a good example for this one. Biyuk means “boar” because the game imitates the boar fights.

Here are some examples of the Tau’t Bato games:   (Click on this link for the video.)

Pating. “Pating” is an individual game which shows their skills in climbing vine. It is also carried out to collect honey and birds. Drunk members are not allowed to play the “pating” since it is one of their most dangerous sports.

Talubid-talubid. “Talubid-talubid” is a make-believe hunting; the Tau't Bato plays with a banana trunk as their make-believe boar called “Budyak”, and a bamboo pole with pointed tip is used as the spear. These games are usually played in the forest area.

The Tau’t Bato also enjoys playing games for two people. The following are examples of these:

Kosti. “Kosti” is a form of hand wrestling. The fingers of two players are alternately clasped together and they struggle to flip the hand over.

Dawit. “Dawit” is a also a form of hand wrestling but only the middle fingers are locked together and they stuggle to flip the hand over.

Limbus-limbusan. “Limbus-limbusan” is a form of arm wrestling similar to the arm wrestling of the lowlanders.  The objective is similar to the games played in different cultures.

Sikar. “Sikar” is a form of leg wrestling and the players’ objective is to flip over the leg of his opponent .

For all the games, whoever successfully flips over the hand or the leg wins.

One of the most challenging games of the Tau’t Bato is the Bangun-bangun. Bangun-bangun is a form of human weight training. The opponent played by a smaller person, acts as the human barbell.  He lies on his stomach, folds his legs and grabs hold of his feet with his two hands. The larger player lies on his back while positioning himself perpendicular to the smaller player with his head towards the body of the human barbell. He then tries to lift the human barbell with him by striving to go into a standing position.

Back to top