What Is Philippine Folk Music?

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Philippine folk music is a rich and varied tradition that has been passed down through the generations. From the traditional songs of the indigenous people to the modern pop music of today, there is a wide range of music to be enjoyed in the Philippines.


Philippine folk music has a rich history and tradition. It is a reflection of the country’s rich cultural heritage. Philippine folk music is a fusion of different cultures, which includes Spanish, Chinese, and even American influences. This type of music is often characterized by its use of traditional instruments, such as the kulintang and the gongs. It also features unique melodies and rhythms that are distinct from other types of music from around the world.

What is Philippine Folk Music?

Philippine Folk music is a type of traditional music from the Philippines. It is often mixed with other types of music such as pop and rock. Philippine Folk music is often used for storytelling, performing arts, and dancing.

The Origins of Philippine Folk Music

Philippine folk music has its origins in the various indigenous music of the Austronesian people, who are the original inhabitants of the Philippine archipelago. Influences from colonial powers such as Spain and Mexico were also brought to the Philippines through music, resulting in a unique fusion of sounds.

The Philippines is home to a wide variety of musical styles, ranging from traditional folk music to more modern pop and rock. Philippine folk music is often characterized by its use of guitars, drums, and other traditional instruments. Many of these songs are used for dancing, and they often tell stories or celebrate important events.

One of the most popular types of Philippine folk music is kundiman, which is a form of love song that originated in the 19th century. Kundiman songs are typically slow and lyrical, and they often express longing or nostalgia. Another popular type of folk music is balitaw, which is a form of song that is traditionally sung by women. Balitaw songs are usually playful and lighthearted, and they often tell stories about love or daily life.

The Different Types of Philippine Folk Music

There are many different types of Philippine folk music, each with its own history and origins. Here are some of the most popular and well-known types:

1. Kulintang music is originally from the Mindanao region of the Philippines, and is characterized by its use of gongs played in a specific pattern.

2. Ifugao music comes from the Ifugao people of northern Luzon, and is best known for its use of bamboo instruments.

3. Cordillera music is from the mountainous regions of northern Luzon, and features a wide range of instrumentation including guitars, flutes, and drums.

4. Visayan music comes from the Visayan islands in the central Philippines, and is often characterized by its use of instruments such as the kulintang (a type of gong) and the agung (a type of drum).

5. Kapampangan music comes from the Kapampangan people of central Luzon, and includes a wide range of instrumentation as well as vocals.

How Philippine Folk Music is Used Today

Philippine folk music has a long and rich history dating back to the pre-colonial era. The music has been used for everything from religious ceremonies to entertaining guests. Today, Philippine folk music is still very much alive and can be heard in traditional gatherings, concerts, and even on the radio.

In the Philippines

Folk music has always been a part of the Filipinos’ way of life. It helps them express their emotions and convey their thoughts and feelings about love, life, death, and other aspects of existence.

Folk music is also used as a means of social commentary. For instance, the lyrics of some folk songs reflect the frustration and anger that the poor and oppressed people feel towards their treatment by those in power. Folk songs can also be used to promote social change or to raise awareness about certain issues.

In recent years, Philippine folk music has started to gain popularity outside of the Philippines. Thanks to the internet and social media, Filipino folk musicians have been able to reach a wider audience and gain international recognition.

Today, Philippine folk music is still being used in much the same way as it has always been – to express emotions, tell stories, comment on society, and promote social change. It is an important part of Filipino culture and will continue to play a role in the lives of Filipinos for many years to come.

In the United States

While Philippine folk music is not as prevalent in the United States as it is in the Philippines, there are still a number of ways that it is used today. For one, many Filipino Americans still enjoy listening to folk music from their homeland. In addition, some Filipino American musicians have begun to incorporate elements of folk music into their own work.

One of the most popular ways that Philippine folk music is used today is in karaoke bars. Many Filipinos enjoy singing karaoke, and many karaoke bars in the United States have a variety of Filipino folk songs available for customers to sing. In addition, some people use Philippine folk music as background music for parties or other events.

Despite its relatively small presence in the United States, Philippine folk music still plays an important role in the lives of many Filipino Americans. For many, it represents a connection to their homeland and their culture. It also provides a way to relax and enjoy themselves while spending time with friends and family members.


In conclusion, Philippine folk music is a genre of music that is rich in history and culture. It is a type of music that is passed down from generation to generation, and is still popular today. There are many different styles of Philippine folk music, and each has its own unique sound and flavor. If you’re looking for something new to listen to, or just want to learn more about the music of the Philippines, be sure to check out some Philippine folk music.

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