What is Subli?
Subli preceded Christianity in the Philippines and is a pre-Spanish era’s religious ritual. The people of Bauan, Batangas paid homage to the cross, reverently called Mahal na Poong Alitagtag (Beloved Holy Cross of Alitagtag) by dancing the folk dance called Subli. The dance is traced to the town of Bauan, Batangas. Subli recalls the first journey of the manunubli, early tribes who settled in Bauan as they went through the fields, the hills and rivers in search of the miraculous cross.
Subli came from the word “subsob” which means to fall with the head down and “bali” (accent on the second syllable) meaning broken. This is interpreted in the way the male dancers look down and also the way the dancers move in steps. Others said it came from the word “sobli” meaning “salisi” or the exchange of place which is a prominent feature of the dance.
Subli is a dance, a religious ritual, a “panata” or a solemn vow directed to the Holy Cross for all the blessings and the people’s belief that the cross has the power to ward off evil spirits. Subli is also a play and is a long sequence of prayers in verse, songs and dances.
During the dance, the ladies dance in circle and with graceful movement of their wrists and their fingers grazing their brimmed hats and alampay, a triangular scarf worn loosely over their shoulders. The male dancers move in a weak but dramatic movement with tortuous and twisting motion in between and around the ladies. It has a very lively music.
So, shall we dance? Get your partner and off we go. The Subli, the traditional dance of the Batangas people!