Francisca Reyes Aquino
National Artist for Dance (1973)
(March 9, 1899 – November 21, 1983)
Francisca Reyes Aquino is acknowledged as the Folk Dance Pioneer. This Bulakeña began her research on folk dances in the 1920s making trips to remote barrios in Central and Northern Luzon. Her research on the unrecorded forms of local celebration, ritual, and sport resulted into a 1926 thesis titled “Philippine Folk Dances and Games,” and arranged specifically for use by teachers and playground instructors in public and private schools.
In the 1940s, she served as supervisor of physical education at the Bureau of Education that distributed her work and adapted the teaching of folk dancing as a medium of making young Filipinos aware of their cultural heritage. In 1954, she received the Republic Award of Merit given by the late Pres. Ramon Magsaysay for “outstanding contribution toward the advancement of Filipino culture”, one among the many awards and recognition given to her.
Her books include the following: Philippine National Dances (1946); Gymnastics for Girls (1947); Fundamental Dance Steps and Music (1948); Foreign Folk Dances (1949); Dances for all Occasion (1950); Playground Demonstration (1951); and Philippine Folk Dances, Volumes I to VI.