Ramon Obusan

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Ramon Arevalo Obusan (16 June 1938 - 21 December 2006) is an internationally acclaimed dancer, dance anthropologist, choreographer and artistic director; founded the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group. He was declared as a National Artist of the Philippines in May 2006.

Early Life and Education

A Bicolano, he was born to Dr. Praxedes Obusan of Camarines Norte who was the first doctor of the Manila’s airport, and Josefina, a music teacher from Albay. Obusan was born to a family of scholars. He studied in the University of the Philippines where he graduated with a BS in Fisheries. He then went to teach courses in fisheries in Aklan Polytechnic Institute. It was in Aklan where his love for Philippine folk culture was born. He was attending an Aklanon wedding when when he was smitten by the richness of the Philippine countryside culture.

Obusan later went back to UP where, inspired by his teacher, Dr. Espiridion Arsenio Manuel he decided to study anthropology. He then joined the Bayanihan Dance Company where he began his career in the 1960s, first as an instrumentalist, then eventually as a dancer.


He became critical of the Bayanihan's approach to folk dances, which he felt gave too much emphasis to formulas, appearances, and overdecorated costumes. To Obusan’s mind also, Bayanihan was too elitist and classicist, concentrating too much on the looks and the social status of its dancers. He also disagreed with Bayanihan’ s costume mistress Isabel Reyes’ reinterpretation of indigenous clothing with brightly colored sequined costumes and of Bayanihan choreographer and fellow National Artist awardee Lucrecia Urtula’s treatment of folk dances with exaggerated clockwork precision movements all in the name of theatricality and showmanship. In 1971, Obusan founded the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group (ROFG), which was acclaimed for its faithful and authentic Filipino folk dance performances.

In 1982, he was designated as Artistic Director of the first Asian Dance Company. On the same year, he directed a documentary for the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) entitled "Sayaw", which won the grand prix award in the "International Video Dance Competition" in France.

In 1992, he was given the Patnubay ng Kalinangan award by the City of Manila for his contributions to the preservation of traditional Filipino dances.

In 1993, he was conferred the CCP Gawad Para Sa Sining Para Sa Sayaw for his researches in Philippine Folk Dances and other art forms.

In 1998, Obusan was commissioned by the Department of Tourism in designing floats themed with historical significance during the parade for the centennial celebration of the country's independence.

Apart from being a maestro in dancing, Obusan was also a collector of Filipiniana wardrobe, an authority in folk rituals and a expert in fisheries.

Dances of the Philippines

Obusan wrote Dances of the Philippines, a compilation of all the researches he has done on Philippine folk and ritual dances. He also has the largest collection of videos on Philippine dances.

Selected Works

Many folk and traditional dances performed by dance troupe nowadays were actually salvaged from oblivion by many of his researches and were initially staged by Ramon Obusan for his folkloric group. Pre-eminent among these dances are the La Jota Paragua a fiery Iberian influenced dance from Cuyo, Palawan, Abaruray de Catanauan a dance taught to him by two ninety year olds in Quezon province, Pandamgo a Matigsalug dance with very interesting storyline, Sinakiki a hen and cockerel dance of Waray origin which he discovered in Rapu-rapu, Albay, Kasanduayan and Kinakulangan, Maranao dances showcasing the payong-a-sinilatan with a bevy of ladies gracefully walking on a way to a wedding, the Ibanag Christmas dance Infantes where children shepherds are joined by two higantes in their dance routines from house to house, the Kalinga headhunting victory dance called Takiling and the Ragragsakan with women dancers balancing labba baskets while spreading silanbituon blankets. Obusan had also dug deep into the pastores tradition of the country. In fact, prior to his death, the ROFG has an annual Christmas treat by showcasing a collection of these pastores dances in one production. No other dance group has made such an anthology before Obusan. It is very interesting to note that while the December 21, 2006 Vamos a Belen show was on-going at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo at the CCP, Obusan passed away. A sad announcement was made during the intermission and as true blue artists the ROFG dancers made the show go on. His pastores dance researches unearthed ‘becoming rare’ and fastly fading Christmastime dance pieces from Sanchez Mira, Cagayan in the north to Dipolog in the south, from Eastern Samar in the east to Antique in the west and everyplace in between particularly Bicol and pan-Visayas.

Obusan has been one big contributor to the Philippine Folk Dance Society’s (PFDS) Sayaw: Dances of the Philippine Islands series. A total of 30 among the 87 dances published in the six volumes of the Sayaw series were dances researched by him. A complete list of the said dances includes Lanceros de Tayabas, Lapay Bantigue, Manmanok , Sayaw sa Cuyo, Sohten, Sua Ku Sua,Abaruray, Ragragsakan, Bendian, Buling-buling, Idudu, Kadal Tahu, Rigodon Royale, Janggay, Jota Quirino, Pastores Camalig, Pig-apir, Buti-buti, Carinosa, Karatong, Kinugsik-kugsik, Malaguena, Pastores Tubog, Putungan, Uyauy, Bayluhan, Maglangka, Pandanggo sa Bulig, Sinakiki and Tarektek.

Obusan was also a frequent presenter of his researched dances on annual PFDS Dance Workshop. He presented the 30 pieces which was later published in the Sayaw book series. Other dances which he also presented in the workshops include Subli Inicbulan, Talbeng, Pangalay Yakan, Binaylan/Banog and Kasanduayan.

Many of the dances performed by the ROFG and its many affiliate dance groups are very rare and unpublished like the Sayana, Birguere, Inocentes, Inamuyatok, Pastores Mercedes, Dayang-dayang, Pangamote, Sugod Uno, Pastores Taft, Aggameyan, Minandagit, Pastores Bool, Pastores Kalawit, Pinandanggo, Birhinia, Nazareno and Pastores Tolosa to name a few.

Aside from folk and traditional dances, Obusan was also recording rituals and customs from many ethnolinguistic groups. Some of these rituals were even "relocated" to the stage of CCP. Some rituals which he later staged include the Tagbanwa pagdiwata or inim, the Ibanag atang-atang, the Aeta anituan, the Tagacaulo udol, the Bukidnon tawgon hapnon, the kagharong of Bicol, the Waray panarit , the “bikbik sagsag” of Ifugao, the bakahan of Laguna, the mayat ti kararuwa of the Gaddang, the sonaran and pamalugu of the Bagobo, the gabbok of the Kalinga and the Maguindanao pag-islam.

Full Length Productions

  1. Vamos a Belen ! Series (1998-2006) Philippine Pastores Tradition
  2. Noon Po sa Amin , Tableaux of Philippine History in Song, Drama and Dance
  3. Obra Maestra, a collection of Ramon Obusan’s dance masterpieces
  4. Unpublished Dances of the Philippines, Series I-IV
  5. Water, Fire and Life, Philippine Dances and Music-A Celebration of Life
  6. An Evening of Philippine Songs and Dances
  7. Saludo sa Sentenyal
  8. Glimpses of ASEAN, Dance and Music of the ASEAN Member Countries
  9. Pagtatagpo: Timog at Hilaga
  10. Sigaw ni Inang Daigdig (Mga Anak ni Inang Daigdig)
  11. Camalaniugan: Isang Kasaysayan, History in Dance
  12. Sayaw Pilipino: Hinubog ng Kasaysayan
  13. Looking Back at the Looking Hour-Glass, Philippines at the Turn-of –the-Century
  14. Sa Muling Pagbabalik, ROFG’s Homecoming Concert from Europe
  15. Saplot (Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group) Philippine Costumes in Dance
  16. Sayaw Pilipino, Handog sa Mundo Best –loved Philippine Folk Dances and Songs
  17. Under ASEAN Sky, Dances and Music of the ASEAN Countries
  18. Ritual Roots Philippine Dances in Rituals


  1. Tradisyon at Yaman ng Bayan, Philippine Traditions in Songs and Dances
  2. Himig at Tinig ng Katimugan, Sounds of the South
  3. Ritwal (Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group) Philippine Rituals, Rare and Exotic
  4. Kasaysayan ng Pilipinas
  5. Kasaysayan Ayon sa Sayaw
  6. Taguig: Munting Bayan sa Tabi ng Lawa , History of Taguig in Dance
  7. Salu-salo, Kasaysayn ng Pilipinas sa Sayaw, Awit at Musika
  8. Glimpses of Maranao Customs and Traditions
  9. Maynila, Isang Kasysayan
  10. Makati, Isang Kasaysayan (Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group)
  11. Ang Barong Pilipino, The Evolution of Filipino Dress
  12. Salo-salo, ROFG’s Homecoming Party from Europe
  13. Semana Santa
  14. Konsiyerto ng Kalayaan ng Kalookan
  15. Kaamulan, Gathering of the Tribes
  16. Kalakalan: The History of Trade and Commerce in the Philippines”
  17. Cuaresma, Lenten Rites and Rituals
  18. Fin de Siecle, End of the Century
  19. An Evening of Philippine Songs and Dances
  20. Kasaysayan ng Hukbong Sandatahan ng Pilipinas
  21. Peñafrancia Sagkud Pa Man, The Story of the Miraculous Virgin of Peñafrancia
  22. Christmas Around the World
  23. Nostalgia Filipina
  24. Philippine Tapestry
  25. Bagobo Gin-um Festival, Bagobo Ceremonial Rites of Passage
  26. Pasundayag
  27. Philippine Folk Dance Festival
  28. Namaka, The Birdman
  29. Kayaw, Kalinga Head-hunting and Other Rituals

Short Pieces

  1. Durian, Isang Alamat Bagobo
  2. Recuerdos
  3. May Pasko Pa Rin sa Smokey Mountain
  4. Kagayonan
  5. Sounds of Tuntungan, Yakan Wedding Ritual
  6. Highland’s Wild Fury
  7. Sayaw-sayaw', Philippine Festivals
  8. Budong, Kalinga Peace Pact
  9. Bulah-bulah/Silat, Tausug Martial and Shell Dance
  10. SABONG
  11. Tawgon-Hapnon, Talaandig Rituals in Dance
  12. Malakas at Maganda
  13. Boda de Oro, An All-Visayan Folk Dance Suite
  14. Intaneg, An Ifugao Wedding Ceremony
  15. Pandamgo (Matigsalug Community)
  16. Pamalugu (Bagobo Cleansing Ritual)
  17. Nagalas Chi Kalinga, Kalinga Songs and Dances
  18. Dallot, Ilocano Bride-Buying Ritual
  19. Gala, Visayan Wedding Traditions
  20. Udol, Tagakaulo Death Ritual
  21. Inim, Tagbanua Drinking Ritual
  22. Barter of Panay
  23. Baluga, Dances of the Baluga of Pampanga
  24. Gabbok, Kalinga Birth Rites

Pageantry and Parades

  1. Dayaw: Philippine Cultural Communities Arts Festival
  2. Asian Games Opening
  3. Pahiyas Philippine Folk Festival
  4. Dinagyang Festival’95
  5. 32nd Annual Smithsonian Folk Festival
  6. Grand Santacruzan
  7. 1998 Grand Kalayaan Centennial Parade
  8. Pineapple Festival
  9. 1998 World Folklore Festival Opening Parade
  10. Lanzones Festival
  11. 100th Year Celebration of Allimudin’s Conversion
  12. 1981 Papal Visit
  13. 1994 Miss Universe Opening Number
  14. Kasaysayan ng Lahi
  15. Lantern Parade Seville Exposition
  16. Philippine Independence Day Parade
  17. Baliwag Quadricentennial Celebration Parade


  1. Noon Po sa Amin Philippine History in dance, Music, Mime and Drama
  2. ASEAN Instructional video on the Study of Traditional Dance (Philippine Edition)
  3. CCP Tuklas Sining Video Series
  4. Sayaw, An Overview of Philippine Dance
  5. Sayaw, Ethnic Dances of the Philippines
  6. Sayaw, Spanish Influenced Dances
  7. Oasioas, Philippine Dance
  8. Festivals of Asia and the Pacific
  9. Saplot Documentary on Philippine Costumes
  10. Kasal Documentary on Unique Philippine Wedding Practices

Tentative Listing of Ramon Obusan Researched/Choreographed Folkloric Dances, Rituals, Ceremonials, Folk Songs and Other Related Folkloric Pieces

Dance/Ritual Ethnolinguistic Group / Provenance Dance/Ritual Ethnolinguistic Group / Provenance
Abaruray Catanauan, Quezon Alakayo Cuyo, Palawan
Alay sa Birhen Tulo, Calamba, Laguna Anituan Aeta
Atang Ibanag Baile Navidad Negros Oriental
Aggameyan Gaddang Abyan Funeral Rites Abyan Negrito (Labo, Camarines Norte)
Baliw-baliw Olango Island, Cebu Cagayan Penetencia (Ibanag) Gattaran, Cagayan
Bakahan San Antonio, Laguna Banog-banog Sulod (Tapaz, Capiz)
Bati Paranaque Baylan Umayamnon
Bayluhan Malabon and Navotas Bikbik Sagsag Lubuagan, Kalinga
Bendian Ibaloy (Benguet) Birginia Cuyo, Palawan
Birguere Cuyo, Palawan Binaylan - Banog Higaonon (Misamis Oriental)
Bulah-bulah Tausug (Jolo, Sulu) Pandanggo sa Bulig Bocaue, Bulacan
Buling-buling Guinayangan, Quezon Bumbuwak Gaddang (Cordillera)
Burong Talo Tausug (Jolo, Sulu) Carinosa Bicolano (Rapu-rapu, Albay)
Cenaculo Bulacan Dalichok Kalinga
Dallot Ilocano Dawak Kalinga
Dayang-dayang Tausug (Jolo, Sulu) Dinuyya Ifugao (Mayaoyao, Ifugao)
Dugso Talaandig (Bukidnon) Enganosa Waray (Catubig, Samar)
Eskrima Waray (Tinambak, Samar) Gala Boholano (Albuquerque, Bohol)
Gran Batalla Ibanag (Nabuan, Santiago, Isabela) Hagbong Bicolano (Camarines, Norte)
Harpas de Cagayan Camalaniugan, Cagayan Idudu Itneg (Penarubia, Abra)
Inagta Agta (Negros Oriental) Infantes ken Tubtubong Ibanag (Sanchez Mira, Cagayan)
Inim Tagbanua (Palawan) Intaneg Ifugao
Jota Cagayana Ibanag (Enrile, Cagayan) Jota Isabela Ibanag (Isabela)
Jota Paragua Cuyo, Palawan Kadal Tahu T’boli (Lake Sebu, South Cotabato)
Kagharong Bicolano (Santo Nino, Pilar, Sorsogon) Kalasan Maguindanao
Kapag-ani or Kabpagagani Maguindanao Karasaguyon T’boli (Lake Sebu, South Cotabato)
Karatong Cuyo, Palawan Kasanduayan Maranao (Marawi, Lanao del Sur)
Kasal Pugot / Aeta Kinabayo Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte
Kini-kini Maranao (Marawi, Lanao del Sur) Kinugsik-kugsik Agusan Manobo (Sta Maria, Agusan)
Kuradang Lubak, Bohol Kuratsa Waray (Samar and Leyte)
Lanceros de Iriga or Lanceros Iringueno Agta/Bicolano (Iriga, Camarines Sur) Lapay Bantigue Bantigue, Masbate
Lanati Ibanag (Cagayan) Lukayo Kalayaan, Laguna
Mag-asik Maranao Magigal Samal
Malaguena Catanauan, Quezon Maglalatik Laguna
Manmanok Bago (Ilocos Norte) Mascota Ibanag (Cagayan)
Maytinis Kawit, Cavite Maytinis Mendez Nunez, Cavite
Mazurka de Cuyo Cuyo, Palawan May Pasko din sa Smokey Mountain Smokey Mountain, Manila
Mga Anghel at Kerubin Kawit, Cavite Minandagit Isamal (Samal Island, Davao City)
Moriones Boac, Mogpog, Gasan and Sta. Cruz, Marinduque Nacio, Nacio Pastores New Washington, Aklan
Nasudi Ilocano (Ilocos Norte) Nazareno Agta (Datag, Siaton, Negros Oriental)
Neneng Kulibangbang Agta (Iriga, Camarines Sur) Nino Dormido or Hermana Bacong, Negros Oriental
Ninos Inocentes (Aklanon) Ibajay, Aklan Osi-Osi Ibanag (Cagayan Valley)
Pabasa Tagalog Pag-apir Maranao (Marawi, Lanao del Sur)
Pag-Islam Maguindanao Pagkawin Matigsalug
Pagkawin Yakan Palu-palo Laguna
Palu-palo Ivatan (Batanes) Pamalugu Bagobo (Sirib, Calinan, Davao del Sur)
Pandanggo sa Ilaw Lubang Island, Mindoro Pandanggo sa Sambalilo Bulacan
Pandanggo sa Plato or Sayaw sa Palaton Laguna Pandanggo sa Tapis Nueva Ecija
Pandanggo na Tapis Pangasinan Pandong Abyan Negrito (Labo, Camarines Norte)
Pangalay Tausug and Samal Pangalay sa Agung Tausug (Jolo, Sulu)
Pangamote Talaandig (Talakag, Bukidnon) Pangamuti Higaonon (Misamis Oriental)
Pansak Yakan (Basilan) Pantomina Bicolano (Albay)
Pastora (Waray) Taft, Eastern Samar Pastores Bool Bool, Tagbilaran, Bohol
Pastores Bungiawon Bungiawon, Oas, Albay Pastores Camalig Camalig, Albay
Pastores Caramoan Caramoan, Camarines Norte Pastores Kalawit Kalawit, Camotes Islands, Cebu)
Pastores Malilipot Malilipot, Albay Pastores Mercedes Mercedes, Eastern Samar
Pastores New Washington New Washington, Aklan Pastores Talisay Talisay, Camarines Norte
Pastores Tabaco Tabaco, Albay Pastores Tobog Tobog, Oas, Albay
Pastores Tolosa Tolosa, Leyte Pastores Pilar Pilar, Sorsogon
Panarit Llorente, Eastern Samar Patapak Tagalog
Pattong Kalinga (Lubuagan, Kalinga) Paypayto Ifugao (Cordillera)
Penetencia Bicol Pig-agawan Talaandig (Bukidnon)
Pinandanggo Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental Posadas pan-Visayas
Pasaylu-a Cebu Putungan Santa Cruz, Marinduque
Ragragsakan Lubuagan, Kalinga Regatones Negros Oriental
Rigodon Royale Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental Sabet Ilocano
Sagayan Maranao Sagayan sa Kulong Maranao (Lanao del Norte)
Sakpaya Ifugao Saging na Belen Bacong, Negros Oriental
Salip or Ngilin Kalinga (Central Kalinga, Lubuagan, Kalinga) Sambali Ibanag (Cagayan and Isabela)
Samsung B’laan Sanghiyang Alfonso, Cavite
Sarong Banggi Bicolano Sayaw ning Bitoon Bacong, Negros Oriental
Sayaw sa Cuyo Cuyo, Palawan Sayaw sa Lambay or Nilambay Tubigon, Bohol
Sinakiki Bicolano (Rapu-rapu, Albay) Singkil Maranao
Sohten Subanon (Zamboanga del Sur) Sounds of Tuntungan Yakan (Lamitan, Basilan)
Subli Bauan, Batangas Subli Inicbulan Inicbulan, Bauan, Batangas
Sugod Uno Bagobo (Sirib, Calian District, Davao) Sua Ku Sua Tausug (Jolo, Sulu)
Tagem Ilongot (Quirino and Nueva Viscaya) Takiling Kalinga (Lubuagan, Kalinga)
Talik Barak Negrito/Agta/Baluga (Zambales) Talik Lapinding Negrito/Agta/Baluga (Zambales)
Talik Binabayi Negrito/Agta/Baluga (Zambales) Talik-talik-utan Negrito/Agta/Baluga (Zambales)
Talik Bakulaw Negrito/Agta/Baluga (Zambales) Talik Bibi Negrito/Agta/Baluga (Zambales)
Talik Dagaw Negrito/Agta/Baluga (Zambales) Talik Liplip Negrito/Agta/Baluga (Zambales)
Talik Paro Negrito/Agta/Baluga (Zambales) Talik Tutubi Negrito/Agta/Baluga (Zambales)
Gitarista Negrito/Agta/Baluga (Zambales) Maniag Apoy Negrito/Agta/Baluga (Zambales)
Manganito Negrito/Agta/Baluga (Zambales) Manguto Negrito/Agta/Baluga (Zambales)
Mangamba Negrito/Agta/Baluga (Zambales) Dururu Negrito/Agta/Baluga (Zambales)
Talbeng Negrito/Agta/Baluga (Nabuklod Settlement, Floridablanca, Pampanga) Tarektek Ibaloy (Benguet)
Tarok Tagbanua (Quezon, Palawan) Tatlong Hari Marinduque
Tawgon Hapnon Talaandig (Bukidnon) Tinikling (Waray) Leyte
Tontak Gaddang Tupukan sa Malong Maguindanaon (Cotabato)
Udol Tagakaolo Villancicos pan-Visayas


He attended to the ROFG's projects up to the time of his death from cardiac arrest.

External link


  • Ramon A. Obusan: Ritwal ng Buhay. 2006 Orden ng mga Pambansang Alagad ng Sining. Edisyong Pang-alala. Sentrong Pangkultura ng Pilipinas. Pasay City Kalakhang Maynila
  • Jorge, Rome. Travelling to Ramon Obusan’s Village. Indayog Philippine Dance Magazine. 2006. p 35-39.



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