Museo ng Nayon Collection: Musical Instruments

“The Nayong Pilipino currently has several musical instruments that may represent several groups of the Philippines. It is our goal to present some of the materials in our catalogues, so that these materials can be studied and shared with those interested in under standing how musical material culture floats through identity and geographic space. And like the music that they bring, we hope to highlight the Filipino talent, not only in sound but to show how it is embedded in the soul.”

Ulinigin: Instruments and Sonorities of Everyday Life

“Music is essential to the lives of every individual—sounds and melodies are so powerful that it evokes memories and emotions, defines the community, and highlights an event. Throughout many countries, music is one of the aspects that readily characterizes worldview. Like language, it can be used to communicate: the people within the group, to people outside the group, or towards people who may have left, to nature where people reside. An expression of sound can show distinction, but in many ways can also show connections.”

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Ulinigin: Instruments and Sonorities of Everyday Life

Music is essential to the lives of every individual—sounds and melodies are so powerful that it evokes memories and emotions, defines the community, and highlights an event. Throughout many countries, music is one of the aspects that readily characterizes world view. Like language, it can be used to communicate: the people within the group, to people outside the group, or towards people who may have left, to nature where people reside. An expression of sound can show distinction, but in many ways can also show connections.

The Philippines is no different. In a country with numerous languages and even more numerous dialects, music is intrinsic to every group. The sound and spoken words can readily provide the listener with the influences of the singer or the group. Music can easily change its tone, adapt to its environment, molding to the needs of the producer of music. Nevertheless, while the surroundings may be malleable, traditional music may resist some of the initial pushes towards the change. This deeply-rooted tradition allows researchers to dive more deeply into the role of music in the everyday lives of the Filipino.

In the reconciliation between modernity and tradition through time (Maceda 1979), most people turn to understanding the musical practices of indigenous groups as well as their own regional music. Their musical tradition, tones, and epics vastly differ from those brought by the Western world, which also influenced the rise of new types of music that quickly made their way into the sonorities of everyday life. To understand these changes, we look at the context of musical development and changes throughout time–so much that we can see how geography and historical events play roles in influencing the musicality that we know today.

Time and Traditions of Philippine Musicality

We can only surmise on the variety of musical representations in history, although
a glimpse can be derived through historical documents, ethnographies, and observations on what is commonly considered the “traditional”. Even then, the concept of authenticity may be futile in sounds due to influences derived from enjoyment as well as the imposition of tradition. As scholars pointed out (Santos n.d., Dioquino 1982, and others), Philippine music can be viewed according to its connections to Southeast Asian composition and musical instruments, and also from Western connections at the period of Spanish arrival and onwards (Cabales 2015).

The shared Southeast Asian musical tradition does not necessarily only pertain to the similarity of musical instruments but also the tone and tradition in which they are used (Maceda 1979). The contexts and combinations of their use–music that is based on vocals such as epics and chanting–can be studied alongside the predominance or accompani ment of musical instruments lending to their tones. This tradition may thus be traceable according to the influences of the nearby islands, undoubtedly a result of the maritime trade that used to ply the sea routes throughout the Philippines and its neighboring countries.

Dioquino (1982) briefly discussed the admittedly few travelers’ records during the colonial period, mostly noting the instruments used by various groups throughout the regions of the Philippines. Various missionaries in the Philippines took note of how dance and music are deeply entrenched in Filipino lives, all the while quickly associating this to the locals’ acceptance of the church and their attraction to the singing aspect. It is not hard to imagine that this acceptance is bourne of the similarities of circumstances in which a certain type of music may be associated with prayer, worship, death, and other such important events. The Filipinos quickly learned the different music from the West to the surprise of their Western counterparts and learned to expand this. In a letter dated 1676, a Franciscan missionary mentioned that almost all towns are filled with singers and that they are comparable to the choirs of Spain (Dioquino 1982: p. 126).

New tones now associated with folk music were easily accepted into the Filipino way of living (Griffith 1924). It seems that the Filipinos were often quick to turn to music for any occasion. Ensembles are found everywhere, which the Spanish eventually adapted for church choirs or for entertaining (Cabales 2015). As with the marriage of lyrics and sound, a fusion of traditional Southeast Asian now merges with Spanish influences. Some examples include the harana or the serenading, the kundiman or the melancholic music, and the rondalla or the string ensemble who are the main eyepiece of every fiesta. And alongside the changes in sonorities, so did the material culture of the Filipino musi cians as they adapted to these new tones. The distinct plucked strings alongside the vocal accompaniment and other ensemble instruments have become a widely accepted form of local musicality, currently embedded in the Philippine lifestyle.

Materials serve as mediums to community activities. Maceda (1995) pointed out that music (and therefore, also the musical instruments) are necessary parts of the ritual; yet music is not only confined in the sacred but also in the secular or everyday social practic es. The intertwining scapes depending on the context of the performance show links between community affairs, group activities, various transitions, and in its heart, the mir roring changes of melody guided by the steady drone of Philippine music.

Musical Instruments and the Rhythm of Social Practice
Once the sounds of the everyday community are understood on a social level, we can turn to the identifying musical rhythms that unify the community. The relationship of music, performers, and the audience merge to develop the identities of the group, taking part in a dynamic role of inclusivity and meaning. While performances—including music, song, and dance—are important, the musical instruments also serve as an import ant backdrop for community interaction. The musical instruments also serve as markers for the community, as it sets the various social practices.

The materials used for the instruments are commonly taken from their natural resources, whether it is wood that makes up the body of drums or bamboo for flutes or xylophones. These natural resources can be found throughout the Philippines, but their uses, con struction, and circumstances in which they are used may vary. The nose flute, for exam ple, may have various names among the Cordillera groups (tongali for the Kalinga, kaleleng for the Bontok, kulasing among the Ibaloi, for example, according to Santos 2017) and may also be found throughout the Philippines but as of 1913, this was unknown to the Bagobo group of Mindanao (Cole 1913).

When materials are scarce or if the instruments are not found within the community, these can be shared with other members of the community or may be traded. The brass gongs found through out the Philippines are such cultural materials. Nicolas (2009) surmises that since brass and tin are not mined in the Philippines during pre-Spanish, these were likely traded in from China, Mainland Southeast Asia, or other nearby areas. Due to the rarity of the materials, very few people own an entire set of gongs and only come together with different sizes to produce an ensemble for special occasions. These are thus commonly considered heir loom materials, passed down by generations, whether they are the flat gongs of the Cordillera or the Southern Mindanao gongs where the middle portions have a round raised part.

The flat gongs or gangsa of the Cordillera can be played as an ensemble as each size o produces a different sound. These agung or gongs are commonly used only in the event of a ritual or an important event. Maceda (1998) points out that in these events, wine and food are exchanged while they carefully prepare and oil these gongs, where he points out: “As they play they search for a balanced texture where no one plays louder or ahead of the other…. each enjoying the peal of gongs they seldom hear and only on these occasions. After a while, they exchange instruments to savor the tones of other gongs, for there are preferred ones with more resonant and longer ones.” The playful socializing and exchange fosters a good relationship between the players.

The gandingan or large suspended agung of Mindanao meanwhile has a raised middle portion. The middle portions are struck by wooden mallets called balu, each gong pro ducing a rich melodic sound which allows their tones to imitate language as if they are speaking (Santos 2017). These gongs are also prized among each family, and when brought together can produce a richer type of music.

The kulintang / kolintang is another social metal instrument which Cadar (1996) demonstrates through his observations with the Maranaw group. The iconic group of metal gongs laid out in a row on a short table is seen as part of the ensemble, which includes the babnir, a medium-sized gong, and the drum called dadabuan or dabakan. The sound of the kolintang can be heard from afar, which entices the community to join in. Playing the ensemble becomes a social event and affirmation of relationships, where participants are encouraged to join and volunteer as alternates for various parts of the ensemble. Interactions are encouraged during musical playing, and the concept of “harmony” is not only viewed as a theoretical musical achievement but also includes the inter actions of the players themselves in showing that they play together without overpower ing the other. Yet, as was demonstrated in the above example regarding the day-eng of the Kanakana-ey, it is understood that in this social event where the kulintang is highlighted, the audiences are also expected to participate. Ethical and social expectations are emphasized through the shared experiences and exchanges.

Such public performances serve as community identifiers (Smith-Shank 2002), where the material culture serves as a medium for the intangible cultural practice that provides cohesive participation among the members of the community. Even at the lack of social gatherings, music and the subsequent instrument producing it can already signal an association. Maceda (1998) articulated that flutes are commonly played as the melody and are associated with courting or festivities. Flutes, made commonly of any type of bamboo, is a popular musical instrument in the Philippines due to the availability of raw materials (Dioquino 2008). Nose flutes are commonly found in the Cordilleras and are commonly only associated with males, and played while traveling or when in the compa ny of other males. In Mindanao, the Tiruray and the Maguindanao groups associate flutes to courting as the versatile harmonies can play both joyous and sad music to move the heart of a beloved. The tuning of the flutes may be associated with exchanges between Java, Borneo, and Mindanao which Maceda (1998: 49) believes are similar practices.

And yet, strip these associations away, we are faced with everyday life mirroring art even in the most mundane choices. The recent example would be the group of men walking down the mountain after a full day’s work in Belong, Tinglayan, Kalinga (courtesy of Kefanay Eljhay Langngag), the men rib each other, laugh while dancing and dancing, all the while reappropriating materials such as the bamboo called bangiba (Campos 2010; Villanueva 2014) and the banana leaf to represent the shield (kalasag) in a ritual music and dance for healing illnesses and death.

Indeed, as Cole (1913: 111) mentioned in elaborating on the ritual observations of the Bagobo of Davao: “The ceremonies and dances are so closely associated with everyday affairs that in the description of the life of the [Bagobo] up to this point we have left only a few to be discussed.” This statement seems an apt description not only for the Bagobo or other Davao groups of Mindanao but also for the rest of the Philippine groups as well. Perhaps when speaking of musical instruments, it is also important to acknowledge the importance of melodies produced not only by musical instruments in the strictest sense but also show the sonorities of everyday life.

Melodies of the Mundane

Everyday life is accompanied by rhythms of the mundane, merging the expected ordinary and placing the people within the environment. Lefebvre and Régulier (Lefebvre, Régu lier, and Zayani 1999) envisioned the social rhythms defined by the mundane, demon strating the importance of the commonplace and punctuated by events. For Maceda (1986), he muses on the concept of time through Southeast Asian music by drawing con nections between the relationship of vibrations and melody. In the Philippines, percus sions such as gongs and drums produce steady repetitive beats where the vibrating sounds overlap to indicate the solidity and longness of time, utilized by many Southeast Asian groups and present in rituals, celebrations, and events that make up the transitions of everyday life. Where the percussions become the melody, he points out that their state of repetition and drone of the metallophones reflect infinity in the mundane, yet trans forms to indicate strict hierarchies in the event of their use for worship or other secular practices.

In the recent International Mother Language Conference and Festival held online, Dr. Felicidad Prudente gave a talk entitled “The Female Body in Rhythm: The Art of Rice Pounding among the Buaya Kalinga Women of Northern Philippines” where she demonstrated how the Kalinga women’s routinely rice pounding accompanied by melodic grunts and the occasional giggling is embedded in a cultural tradition surrounding rice. Interestingly, she backed her observation by showing how the melody changes according to the number of rice pounders working on the single mortar “asung”. The familiar sounds of pounding rice, the occasional hitting of the pestle and mortar, and pestle “au”, and the harmonious sounds emitted by the women and their neighbors evoke an ethnography of the Kalinga community. Just by listening to the sound, one can be transported to the small town of Buaya in the Cordilleras where the pounding of rice is transformed into social interaction.

In the same session, Dr. LaVerne de la Peña expounded his research on the day-eng of the Kankana-ey through his talk entitled “Poetry and Music: The Kankana-ey day-eng as event, act, and style” which was the topic of his dissertation in 2000. In the unfortunate chance where he managed to observe three death wakes in Abatan, Buguias, Benguet. Here, he defines day-eng as a “poetic and musical discourse among the Kankana-ey mourners”, thus providing the setting for this musical dialogue conducted only within the realm of a death wake. The day-eng allows the mourners to converse with the dead and the rest of the attendees of the wake, to uplift the feelings of those present, to negotiate terms between the bereaved and the community, and other concerns. Throughout this conversation, the performer and the group continuously interact through response. A standard beginning and ending of the discourse signal the transition from one performer to another, accepted by another member of the group; changes in the melody may be accepted in the case of a guest, not within the community. In this case, the entire performance of day-eng becomes an encompassing melodic practice that facilitates group interaction and transi tions necessarily performed for the family and the guests of the dead. This social poetry and exchange become part of the acceptance of death, demystifying the taboo of death into a negotiation between the ancestors, the dead, and the living.

These two cases show us that music and everyday sounds are intertwined to form the setting that identifies a community. The everyday sound of rice-pounding to the occa sional event of death are both settings that encompass melodies of the community. In this, the rhythm of society may have verses, interrupted by changes through events, before transitioning once more into everyday life.

The Philippine lute in its many names also featured in various social practices. Maceda (1995) mentions its many different names depending on the group: kudlung, faglung, hagelung, kudyapi, ketiyapiq, and others, but the structures are more or less the same as it utilizes two strings to be plucked and played. Among the Maguindanaos, the lute is mostly associated with court musicians accompanying the Datu, with the scales called dinaladay (hemitomic) and binalig (anhemitomic); playing a particular scale also describes the environment where the lack of half-step already indicating the sound of nature as well as animal sounds. This indicates how tones are used for setting locations and atmosphere. Interestingly, emotions are also considered part of nature, and specific music may refer to praises, celebrations, and even sadness or love. For the T’boli woman who plays the hagelung, the act indicates love and affection since the instrument is meant to be embraced while played. The Palawan kusiyapiq, another version of the lute, can play a melody that imitates the sound of the quail bird to produce vocals that accompany the music, but may be played without vocals at all. The contextual geographic and circumstantial events that the musical instrument can be played shows the fluidity and the intimate relationship of the material and the musician.
Such examples show that in any circumstances, music becomes a part of the social life of groups. Formal musical instruments may be used, but the beauty of performance may also rely on the mundanity of the materials used. OA voice used for speaking can become a song performed in death and can be used to narrate or ease the transition from life to death. Rice pounding becomes a community bonding framed by mortar, pestle, harvest, and song. And musical instruments such as a lute, in its many names, becomes the medium of versatility that places people within their space in landscape and nature. The mundane every day becomes transformed into social rhythms of groups, where materials and conversation becomes a song, and where movements for all days become a dance.
Conclusion: The Environment as Music and the Person as Musician
As we understand the connection between cultural melody and community practices, we can also begin to understand how the musician may use it for personal use. Music, of course, is also considered an expression of self—it can mirror the musician’s skill, thoughts, and their identities. Santos (2017) elaborates on several examples of this, one of which is the gitgit or a three-stringed fiddle played with a bow, an instrument traditional ly used by the Mangyan group. In this case, he elaborates the many ways this instrument can be used: to express loneliness or love—thus as an accompaniment to the poetic ambahan of the Mangyan.
Can we say then that the person is a musician? Mora (1987) discloses that in his fieldwork with the T’boli people by Lake Sebu, the group considers their environment as their source of inspiration for music; however, in a complex way, human behaviors mirror the natural environment and thus comes the roundabout practice where the music takes inspiration from human behavior relaying natural environment. In an extensive study regarding the relationship of the Philippine lutes Brandeis (2012) showed that it is likely that the more familiar use of the lutes can be found throughout the south of Mindanao while only traces of this could be found in the north. While there are stringed instru ments found at the Cordillera (Campos 2010; Campos and Blench 2014), and indeed, even at the south among the Bagobo (Cole 1913), the form of the kudyapi is a step closer towards the form of the guitar or even the violin. The body is either hollowed from one type of timber and attached to a fret. Strings may be abaca, although the popular nylon is now being used. These can be used for socialization and get-togethers, but they may also be used for ceremonies and dances in another event. And still, the designs on many of the musical instruments mirror the designs on the torogan houses of the Maranaw, their textile (Mora 2012), and their art. The musician shows that they are in much influence with the manifestation of their art, drawing inspiration and beauty from their interaction and their environment.

The jaw’s harp or the kubing can be found throughout the Philippines. This bamboo strip is thinned with two parts stripped to leave a middle part. When the instrument is bitten by the musician to play the music, the middle part of the instrument is struck to produce a vibrating sound. The tones are manipulated by the shape of the mouth and the air being produced. The kubing can be played in recreational events (Santos 2017) but may also be used as communication. Although there are several jaw’s harp around the world, to discover and utilize the bamboo–a widely-used material for house-making, weaving, and others–as a source of sound highlights the keen knowledge gained on the environment. Moreover, the different use of bamboo for music including flute, nose flute, xylophone (Maceda 1998), and zithers (Campos and Blench 2014) indicates the versatili ty of plant use which people fully took advantage of. The reshaping of their environment, adaptability using the materials available to them, and producing art that is not only seen but also heard and performed hints at the entwined nature of arts and the environment.

The importance of nature is something that many may take for granted. While new and influential tones in Philippine music merge with traditional tunes, a question would be how much do we now understand regarding the fusion of traditional music alongside colonial music. Perhaps it is through understanding the rhythmic changes of social cul ture, so can we understand how the musicality of people transforms. As the environment and nature change, so do people—and the musicians within the culture understand that this is the future that they will face. In the event of such choices of humans as musicians facing the initial inspiration of their ancestors, we must understand that, in the end, the changing environment may be a harsher burden for the person—the musician—and strive to see through their music to understand the fast-changing environment forcing their rapid adaptation to discordant change.

Brandeis, Hans. 2012. Boat Lutes in the Visayas and Luzon – Traces of a Lost Tradition. Musika Jornal 8:3-94.

Cabales, Justin Cydrick Gaffud. 2015. Music of Pre-colonial and Spanish Colonial Phil ippines, and the Filipino Rondalla. Masters. California State University, Northridge, California, USA.

Cadar, Usopay H. 1996. The Role of Kolintang Music in Maranao Society. Asian Music 27 (2):81-103.

Campos, Fredeliza. 2010. A Study of the Musical Instruments of Ifugao in the Cordillera Region, Northern Philippines, Hong Kong University, Hong Kong, HK. Campos, Fredeliza, and Roger Blench. 2014. Heterochord Board and Strip Zithers in the Cordillera, Northern Philippines. The Galpin Society Journal 67:171-47. Cole, Fay-Cooper. 1913. The Wild Tribes of Davao District, Mindanao. Anthropological Series 12 (2):49-203.

Cole, Fay-Cooper. 1922. The Tinguian: Social, Religious, and Economic Life of a Philip pine Tribe. 2 vols. Vol. XIV, Anthropological Series. Chicago, USA: Field Museum of Natural History.

de la Pena, LaVerne David Carmen. 2000. Traversing boundaries: A situated music approach to the study of day-eng performance among the Kankana-ey of northern Philippines. Ph.D., University of Hawai’i at Manoa, Ann Arbor.
Dioquino, Corazon. 2008. Philippine Bamboo Instruments. Humanities Diliman 5 (1-2):101-113.

Dioquino, Corazon C. 1982. Musicology in the Philippines. Acta Musicologica 54 (1/2):124-147.

Lefebvre, Henri, Catherine Régulier, and Mohamed Zayani. 1999. The Rhythmanalyti cal Project. Rethinking Marxism 11 (1):5-13.
Maceda, José. 1979. A Search for an Old and a New Music in Southeast Asia. Acta Musi cologica 1(1):160-168.
Maceda, José. 1998. Gongs and Bamboo: A Panorama of Philippine Music Instruments. Quezon City, PH: University of the Philippines Press.

Mora, Manolete. 1987. The Sounding Pantheon of Nature. T’boli instrumental music in the making of an ancestral symbol. Acta Musicologica 59 (2):187-212.

Mora, Manolete. 2012. Tune and Textile: Interrelatedness in the Music and Weaving Arts of the T’boli, Philippines. Humanities Diliman 9 (2).

Santos, Ramon P. 2021. Philippine Music Forms/Composition. National Commission for Culture and the Arts [cited 18 June 2021]. Available from

Santos, Ramon P. 2017. Musical Instruments as Emblems in the Socio-Cultural Commu nities in the Philippines. Agung 20 (6):3-4.
Smith-Shank, Deborah L. 2002. Community Celebrations as Ritual Signifiers. Visual Arts Research 28 (2):57-63.

Villanueva, Cristina B. 2014. Putting voice to the silent: researching the Cordillera photographs of Robert B. Fox, Sr. of the University of the Philippines Baguio Cordillera/Northern Luzon Historical Archives.

ULINIGIN: The Sound and Soul of our Shared Heritage

“The commonality of sound and song resonates throughout different groups around the world, and it is certainly no different with the various Philippine groups. It is no wonder that music can relay relationships through time and space, akin to spoken language emitted by cultural groups which expands by transmitting part of their identities.”

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ULINIGIN: The Sound and Soul of our Shared Heritage

The commonality of sound and song resonates throughout different groups around the world, and it is certainly no different with the various Philippine groups. It is no wonder  that music can relay relationships through time and space, akin to spoken language emitted by cultural groups which expands by transmitting part of their identities. 

In a recorded lecture by National Artist Dr. Ramon P. Santos, he explained that Philippine musical heritage largely came from two traditions: from our Southeast Asian neighbors and the Euro-American Western influences. The European Western influences of  course stem from the onset of Spanish colonization in the Philippines where musical influences may be attributed to global exchanges, especially at the onset of the Manila Galleon Trade. However, the Southeast Asian musical influences continue to live on through traditions and communities. Dr. José Maceda (Maceda 1978), another National Artist for Music, mentioned that similarities of instruments—alongside other material cultures—is comparable to the Philippines’ neighboring countries; yet the sound, melody, forms, and the roles of these musical instruments greatly vary throughout a  wider geographic distribution. This is not surprising, given that the Philippines is formed by numerous islands, all with a unique geographical environment that led to the  rise of hundreds of languages. In this way, while influences cannot be denied, there is also  a unique property in the sounds and melodies that each group can produce. 

One of these is the ganza or gangsa, the brass gongs used by the Cordillerans for their rituals. Different ways of eliciting tone from the gangsa are used depending on the  observed occasion. In one way, the hands are used to beat and slide on the brass material  to develop a ringing tone. However, on the occasion of a ritual, the six people will play  different sizes of gangsa to produce various tones to produce a dance. Brass gongs in Southern Mindanao, however, have a mound in the middle, which must be struck by a percussion stick to produce sound. These can be suspended from strings of rattan on  bamboo suspension, an instrument utilized for signaling and as the beat for the music.  One or two people can play this at the same time. This type of gong can be found  throughout Mindoro to the indigenous groups of Mindanao. The most widely known  gongs, however, are those that are laid according to size, famously known as the kulintang and mostly associated with the Islamic groups of Mindanao. The kulintang is able to play the melody, unlike the other gongs that mostly play the beat. 

Aside from this, the kudyapi or stringed lute, zithers, and the Jew’s harp can be found throughout the Philippines, indeed only varying in the tones that they produce. In a letter describing the cutiape (kudyapi) of the Bisayas, a Spanish priest marveled: “The strings used for [the harp] are made from twisted silk…it bears a close resemblance to a  hurdy-gurdy, and has four copper chords. They play it so cleverly, that they make it express whatever they wish; and it is asserted as a truth that they speak, and tell one another what ever they wish, by means of that instrument, a special skill in those of that nation” (vol. 29,  p. 290). The importance of this kudyapi is prominent in courtship and in other speaking  engagements, where these can be used as a speaking instrument that happens to play musical tones. Brandeis (2012) elaborated on the various forms of the kudyapi throughout  the Philippines, mentioning that in Mindanao there are more or less 20 forms of this  instrument! 

Other materials such as the zithers, Jew’s harp, and xylophones are commonly made of  bamboo. (Dioquino 2008) As always, the bamboo is considered one of the most import ant plants in the Philippines, featuring prominently in communities. These range from  the material for house building, bridge construction, basket-making, and here also in music-making (Roxas 2012; Tamolang et al. 1980). Such importance given to the plant indicates the intricate knowledge and understanding that the Filipino bestows upon their environment and learning their properties and uses. It is not hard to imagine that  the initial Filipinos have high regard for the plants that command such a variety of use in  life. 

Music and melody are then representative of identity and histories as their uses range from everyday community music to ritual performances accompanying important life transitions such as celebrations of marriage, death, harvest rituals, and head-hunting. Each group also has various musical instruments, which may also only be played in a  certain event. Maceda (1998) provided examples of these musical instruments, which he  summarized to mostly composed of brass gongs and bamboos. Nevertheless, he expounded on other instruments such as drums constructed with the deer hide on a group of  bamboos held together by rattan, and also other instruments found throughout the Philippines. Nicolas (2008) connects it to the Southeast Asian musical tradition which is not only present through ethnographic analysis, but also present in archaeological excavations throughout Indonesia, Taiwan, Borneo, and others. This shows the long history of  the musical instruments used by various groups, although it was only with the Spanish  arrival that the terms used were eventually recorded (Blair and Robertson 1903-1909). 

Beyond daily life and music’s contribution to rituals and transition, musical instruments  played by various Philippine ethnic groups also provide a subtle indication of gender  roles, although as is with any Southeast Asian groups, such may also be fluid (Andaya 2000). This ties musical instruments to the daily and gendered lives of the people, which  Mora (2008) provided in a study of the musical instruments used by the T’boli of Lake Sebu, Mindanao. While the instruments themselves are engendered, much like the  domestic practices that are viewed as either male or female, the players themselves may  play the musical instrument commonly attributed to gender while they themselves are not of the same sex. This complex nature of musicality and instrument shows the multifaceted roles of each member of the group when it comes to making music, and thus also the context in which these are used. 

The Nayong Pilipino currently has several musical instruments that may represent several groups of the Philippines. It is our goal to present some of the materials in our catalogues, so that these materials can be studied and shared with those interested in under standing how musical material culture floats through identity and geographic space. And  like the music that they bring, we hope to highlight the Filipino talent, not only in sound  but to show how it is embedded in the soul. 


Andaya, Leonard Y. 2000. The bissu: Study of a third gender in Indonesia. In Other   pasts: Women, gender and history in early modern Southeast Asia, edited by B. W.   Andaya. Honolulu, HI, USA: Center for Southeast Asian Studies. 

Blair, Emma, and James Robertson. 1903-1909. The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898.   Volume 26: 260. Cleveland: Arthur Clark. 

Brandeis, Hans. 2012. Boat Lutes in the Visayas and Luzon – Traces of a Lost Tradition.   Musika Jornal 8:3-94. 

Dioquino, Corazon. 2008. Philippine Bamboo Instruments. Humanities Diliman 5   (1-2):101-113. 

Maceda, José. 1978. Introduction to Philippine Music. The World of Music 20   (2):78-81. 

Maceda, José. 1998. Gongs and Bamboo: A Panorama of Philippine Music Instruments.  Quezon City, PH: University of the Philippines Press. 

Mora, Manolete. 2008. Lutes, Gongs, Women and Men:(En)Gendering Instrumental   Music in the Philippines. Ethnomusicology Forum 17(2):225-247. 

Nicolas, Arsenio. 2008. Nicolas 2008 Review Maceda(1998) Gongs and Bamboo. A Pan  orama Of Philippine Musical Instruments. Musika Jornal 4. 

Roxas, Cristina A. 2012. Handbook on Erect Bamboo Species Found in the Philippines.   Laguna, PH: Department of Environment and Natural Resources Ecosystems   Research and Development Bureau, Department of Environment and Natural   Resources, College. 

Tamolang, Francisco N., Felipe R. Lopez, Jose A. Semana, Ricardo F. Casin, and Zenita  

 B. Espiloy. 1980. Properties and Utilization of Philippine Erect Bamboos. In Bamboo Research in Asia, edited by G. Lessard and A. Chouinard. Ottawa, CA: International Development Research Centre.