Google fetes ‘Mother of PH Dancing’ on her 120th birth anniversary

Google has put out a Doodle celebrating the life and work of Francisca Reyes-Aquino, the Filipino folk dancer and cultural researcher who helped preserve 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 March 9 in 1899, Reyes-Aquino became interested in preserving the unique folk culture that thrived throughout the over 7,000 islands that make up the Philippine archipelago.

Earning an Education degree from the University of the Philippines, she traveled 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.

The animated Doodle depicts various Philippine traditional dances Reyes-Aquino helped discover and document, including the cariñosa, singkil, pandanggo sa ilaw, and the national favorite: tinikling.

Named after a small, native bird (called the tikling) that had long been the nemesis of local rice farmers, the dance is actually 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” and was named a National Artist of Dance in 1973.

Google’s doodles are fun and surprising alterations made to the logo to celebrate important holidays, events, and lives of famous people. Previously, Google Philippines dedicated tribute doodles to celebrate the country’s 120th Independence Day, and to honor notable Filipinos such as Josefa Llanes Escoda, founder of Girl Scouts of the Philippines, and Dr. Fe del Mundo, who is fondly called the “Mother of Philippine pediatrics.”

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