KURADANG: The dance the SANDUGO Street Dancers did not know

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KURADANG: The dance the SANDUGO Street Dancers did not know

Topic |  


It was on October 31, 1993 that I wrote in this column the difference between the dance KURADANG and KURATSA.

It was decided that the Sandugo Street dancing will use the dance steps of the Kuradang.  According to the Artistic Committee composed of Mr. Lutgardo Labad, Mr. Marianito Luspo, and Ms. Carmen Gatal, the purpose was to wean the Sandugo dances from the Sinulog dances of Cebu.

The information aroused my interest that on the afternoon of July 22, 2016 I sat at the street curb in front of the Ramasola Studio in order to observe the dances.


I had a strong suspicion that nobody knows what are authentic Kuradang steps and movements.  True enough, it was only the last contingent from Napô, Loon, Bohol that displayed some authentic Kuradang movements.

Wrong Spelling

The announcements in newspapers states “Banga sa Kuradang ug Subli sa Sandugo”.  If what is meant is “competition” the spelling should be “Banggà” with a double “g”.

“Bangâ” with a single “g” have the meanings, a.) incompetent or inept; b.) dunce or dullard; and c.) an earthen jar with a faucet.

The Americans could not pronounce “ng” as a single letter.  So they write the name of a district in Tagbilaran City as “Manga” and pronounced as “Man-ga” instead of the Bisayan spelling of “Mangga”.



Kuradang is a folk dance based on the steps and movements of the native arnis martial art.  In fact Kuradang is a kind of “shadow fight” of the arnis or stick fighting.


I have found two possible sources of the word “kuradang”.  One is the combination of the Arabic word “kura = to play with” and the last syllable of “sundang = large native knife”.  Therefore the combination “KURA +sunDANG = KURADANG” would mean to play with or display the use of the sundang.

Another is the etymology from Kundat (1618) that became Kudang (1852) then evolve into Kurangdang and finally Kuradang.  It means a lively dance with limping and swaying motions.

It’s a Man’s Dance


Since Kuradang is a shadow fight of arnis or native stick fighting, it is basically the ability of the man that is appreciated.  However, the woman’s moves will also be appreciated for evading the strokes of the man when doing the arnis moves.

The most popular stroke or move of arnis is the palábad or twirling of the two sticks held on each hand.  It should be fast enough that a pebble thrown towards the performer could not pass through.


When translated into the dance form of Kuradang, it is the instant when the man will kneel and try to raise the skirt of the woman with the fast movement of the hands without holding the skirt of the woman.

The woman is appreciated in the art of gathering her skirt (Bis: sapó; supúpo) without exposing her legs.  It is also at this instant when the tempo of the music is very fast.

My paternal grandfather Policarpo Tirol was from Subâ-Basbäs, Mactan, Cebu (father side) and Buwagsong, Cordova (mother side).  His travels brought him to Buenavista, Bohol.  During a local celebration, he participated in the arnis competition and defeated the other participants.

He was then challenged to display his skills in arnis through a Kuradang and paired with the local beauty named Ines Degamo.

It may seem easy for the man but actually it is difficult.  While executing his moves the woman through her dance steps will try to foil the complete execution of a stroke.  The art is how to complete a stroke without hitting the woman.

What will be hilarious and enjoyable to the crowd is when the man is thrown off or even topples over by a bumping motion by the hip of the woman.

It is said that the Kuradang went perfectly well and that is how Policarpo Tirol captured the heart of Ines Degamo.

Ramon Obosan Influence

In the 1990s a dance choreographer by the name of Ramon Obosan came to Bohol in order to research for dance steps and movements found in Bohol.  He discovered the unique hand movements found only in Bohol.  He developed a dance based on those hand movements in which the upper arms are level and the forearm and hands are waving.  (Bis: warawara).

He taught these movements to Boholano dance instructors and those arm movements were the ones used in the Sandugo Street dancing.  Actually those arm movements are very common in the eastern part of Bohol and used only by the women and not by the men who use slashing moves.  However, Ramon Obosan used it for both men and women.  For sure the dance movements taught by Mr. Obosan were not Kuradang steps and movements.

Further Research

In order to improve the Kuradang street dancing presentation, I suggest that the dance instructors and choreographers should study how arnis and dusiparis martial arts are performed and transform the moves into dance forms.  (Note: dusiparis came from Douzepers, the self-defense method used during Charlemagne.  It is a name of the man who originated it.)

I am not sure whether the people of Larapan, Jagna, Bohol are still dancing their Kuradang using actual swords.  Their dance steps and movements are worth investigating.

Be that as it may, Kuradang is a difficult dance to be performed by a group in unison.  The 1852 Bisaya-Spanish dictionary by Fr. Juan Felix de la Encarnacion has an entry for another dance form.  It is called binuáya because many participants will dance and make the form of a buáya or crocodile. However there is no description about the steps and movements.  Maybe somewhere in Bohol there is still someone who knows.


The sublì or reenactment of the Sandugo still suffers from the same historical errors since the Sandugo celebration was started in 1989.

Si Katuna was not a Rajah.  He was only a minor chieftain.  Si Gala was a higher chieftain and they were under Princes Pagbuaya or Manangkil Way Tupong and Dailisan or Way Lisang Makabungkag.

The blood was taken from the breast and not from the arm.  When the Spaniards will arrive in a place they do not blow a horn but fire a canon.  Fr. Andres de Urdaneta did not evangelize Christianity because he was afraid that the people will forget once the Spaniards will leave.

The Blood Compact occurred on March 25, 1565 for Si Katuna and March 28, 1565 for Si Gala.  Si Katuna converted to Christianity in 1599 or 34 years later. Si Gala never converted to Christianity. (By Jes B. Tirol)

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