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The Kalinga Banga

Origin and History of the Banga Dance

by Juliet Omli Cawas Cheatle and Jenny Bawer Young

The “Banga” (ba-nga), is a round or spherical jar made of clay, used for fetching water and mostly adopted by the northern region of the Philippines. Kalinga women place a women and coiled piece “jikon” that is made from a straw plant “ligis,” or they use a rolled cloth on their heads for support while carrying the banga. The Kalinga use local sources for the clay to make their pots. The known potters are the women from the villages of Puapo and Dalupa in Pasil, and in the village of Dognak in Lubuagan. These clay pots are made for fetching and storing water, cooking, storing of food, and for bartering.

1967, the “KAYAW” cultural group of Lubuagan, Kalinga was organized by Sister Aurora Sambrano, I.C.M and master artist Mr. Cirilo “Sapi” Bawer. The “KAYAW” was formed with the goal of reviving the culture and to interpret the rituals and ways of life of not only the Kalinga tribal peoples but the rest of the Cordilleras through dance, music, songs and drama. The other goal is to have a cultural performing group that can travel and perform and to appeal and fundraise for the Saint Theresita’s College located in Lubuagan, Kalinga.

The first members of the KAYAW group were teachers and students of Saint Theresita’s College.

One of the interpretive dances created during the KAYAW days was the “BANGA” dance. This dance is performed with Kalinga women showing their agility in balancing the bangas on top of their heads while toddling through rice paddies and mountain paths; a daily routine to fetch water from the mountain springs.

This dance is derived from the earthen pot called BANGA which is carried by the female dancers on their heads while dancing. It is played by six or more gong players with their respective female partners. The minimum number of pots carried by a dancer is 5 pots of different sizes placed one on top of the other, the smallest pot placed at the topmost. This dance is to entertain visitors during feasts. 

During the KAYAW days, the ICM –CICM missionaries hired the late Mr. Ramon Obusan who was at that time with the Bayanihan Folk Theatre as the KAYAW’S adviser on choreography and theatrics and to help mount the KAYAW production. After his contract was up with the KAYAW, Mr. Obusan went back to the Bayanihan Folk Group and introduced all the dances that he learned from the KAYAW cultural group.

Juanita “Maggit” Cusay, a Kalinga native, former student and teacher of Saint Theresita’s College was the first dancer who performed the solo banga dance.

“KAYAW” is a dance production which means to “head hunt”. Bangas are made of local clay found only in certain Kalinga villages. The bangas are made by potters, exclusively women in the villages of Puapo and Dalupa in Pasil and Dognak in Lubuagan. Bangas are made for cooking, water and food storage and later for bartering.


Cirilo “Sapi” Bawer is Co-Founder of the KAYAW Production. He is known as a dancer, choreographer, director, master artist and pioneer in the preservation of the Kalinga dances, music and culture, and a resource person for Kalinga Value System.

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