Today’s Doodle celebrates the life and work of Francisca Reyes-Aquino, the Filipino folk dancer and cultural researcher who helped preserve numerous Filipino cultural traditions including the tinikling— one of the country’s most well-known traditional dances. Countless other regional dance forms might have been lost forever if not for the efforts of Reyes-Aquino, who is often referred to as the “Mother of Philippine Dancing.”
Born on this day in 1899, Reyes-Aquino became interested in preserving the unique folk culture that thrived throughout the 7000+ islands that make up the Philippine archipelago. Earning a degree in Education from the University of the Philippines, she began traveling to rural communities with a small team of researchers to study the Filipino people’s unique songs, games, and dances. Recording and transcribing everything in detail, Reyes-Aquino shared her findings at recitals of the university’s folk dance troupe, helping to popularize and preserve dozens of dance forms through classes held by the university’s department of physical education.
Today’s animated Doodle depicts various Philippine traditional dances Reyes-Aquino helped document and preserve including the cariñosa, singkil, pandanggo sa ilaw, and the national favorite: tinikling. Named after a small, native bird that had long been the nemesis of local rice farmers, the dance is inspired by the bird’s hopping movements. Tinikling performers hop and skip skillfully between bamboo poles, creating a rhythmic combination of footwork and arm movements.
In 1954, Reyes-Aquino was awarded the Republic Award of Merit for her “outstanding contribution toward the advancement of Filipino culture.” She was also named a National Artist of Dance in 1973.
Happy 120th birthday, Francisca!