The Yakan are the indigenous inhabitants of the island province of Basilan, and their hometown is in Lamitan. The Yakan women are known to be the finest weavers in the Philippines and entire Southeast Asia. Aside from weaving, the Yakans are agriculturists growing upland rice. The traditional cycle of rice production is depicted in the hand gestures and footwork stances of their dances.


Lami-lamihan is the grandest feast of the Yakan people from Basilan, Mindanao. It is celebrated after a bountiful harvest, and a wedding is one of the highlights of the event. The piece opens with Pansak Pagkawin (tribute to Philippine National Artist, Ramon Arevalo Obusan of Ramon Obusan Folkloric group) showcasing the traditional way Yakans prepare for a wedding, Tumahik the only real Yakan dance , Pagtobbok or face paint on the bride and groom to hide their identity from evil spirits; Pansak si Karendehan, meaning Yakan maiden’s dance, exhibiting languid arm and hand gestures remiscent of Yakan Princess, Lily Cuevas. 

Ngeddek, meaning to plant, which depicts movements related to the traditional cycle of rice production.  Pansak si Laley, laley, meaning plates; Seven plates for 7 days of the week and footstools of the 7 mythical maidens called biradalli or daughters of the rainbow. Pansak si Bangku, dancing on top of a small bench, depicts the milling and threshing of palay or rice done by striking the balls and heels of the feet.

Yakan Tutup

Photos: Maricris Macabeo | Mariflor Medrano

Resource: Earl Francis Pasilan