Modernization towards a Vanishing Tribal Dance

         Culture is an imprint of man. Man makes his culture, and he passes down this cultural wealth to succeeding generations as a cultural heritage of man’s accumulated achievements and continuous progress. Each group of people has their own unique culture which developed independently and influenced by local history, geography, and environment. The culture of the Philippines has been influenced by many different cultures of the world, including the Spanish and American, especially in dancing.  Inspite of the enduring years of colonization, the descendants of the original inhabitants, which is said to be the Aetas, have been able to preserve the culture of the Philippines.

         Everybody knows that technological advances are happening every day and it is difficult to keep up with these changes. Because of the fast rate or sudden changes in culture, an individual or society may experience certain “side effects”. Ayta Magbukon culture has adapted to new conditions and assimilated ones. Their own cultural songs and poetry are almost forgotten; even among the elders, only a few remember their songs mainly due to strong lowland influences. The researcher has observed that many Aytas have a preference of playing pop music in their houses which is almost heard by many nearby houses. Also, Aytas indigenous animal dance has been replaced by Western modern dances. New generations of Ayta Magbukon in Bangkal prefer to practice and do modern dancing than ethnic dances which are known by only few people. But when they are asked to dance, they can easily perform.

         In his study, David (2010) considered Ayta Magbukon as a vanishing tribe because of integration and modernity. Their ability to selectively accept change and retain some of their cultural practices has been greatly influenced by their interactions with the “Unats” (straight haired or pure breed Tagalog). The Aytas have their own dances, which are vigorous and mimetic in character. Before the production of written languages, dance was one of the methods of passing these stories down from generation to generation. It relates the tradition, ideas, superstitions, and events of daily living.

          In preparation for the upcoming celebration of the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas celebrated every 25th of January wherein Ayta Magbukon rendered two nights for two important activities that they have been waiting for a year. The first night was sponsored by Bataan Peninsula State University (BPSU)-Abucay Campus which is the Talent Night, the Ayta youth appreciated most of the modern dance presentation, while the elders are more grateful of the ethnic dances in the cultural show which they think much related to their past experiences and practices. The second night is Disco sponsored by the Local Government Unit (LGU); you will see young Aytas garbed in dress, t-shirts, pants, and rubber shoes dancing along to the music under the disco ball. They shouted and looked very happy while they were making “showdown” to some Unats.

            With the present situation, the Ayta Magbukon dances are said to be endangered with extinction. Some threats to the continuous transmission of these dance practices include lack of documentation and survival strategies and even the uninterested youth which the researcher thinks will face great challenges. According to Houseal (2012), “The future of ancient dance is in the children who will carry it on or not.”