"Manlilikha ng Bayan," Uwang Ahadas, plays the Yakan "gabbang"

Just like the gongs (agung) and the gongs-in-a-row (kulintang), the bamboo xylophones found all throughout Palawan and  the southern Philippines in Mindanao and the islands in the Sulu Sea have its sources in the Malay archipelago.  It is commonly called gabbang across the different groups.  Among the sea-dwelling people such as the Tausug, the gabbang is an important musical instrument that accompanies songs for entertainment.

The blades are made of bamboo and placed above a box-like resonator in the form of a trapezoid.  The blades are held loosely in place with a nail and a strip of cloth placed underneath to cushion it.  In the Palawan gabbang, the blades are suspended over a cloth rope.

The kulintang a tamlang of the Maguindanaon is a different kind of xylophone as it uses a thick variety of bamboo and unlike the gabbang which is played with the pair of sticks striking the surface of the blades, the ends of the blades are hit in the  kulintang a tamlang.  The instrument takes the place of the brass kulintang in the ensemble of the same name. It is also used as a practice instrument.  A wooden version of the instrument is called the kulintang kayu.

Instrument Distribution


Palawan – “gabbang”


Maguindanaon – “kulintang a tamlang,” “kulintang kayu”


Samal – “gabbang”

Tausug – “gabbang”

Yakan – “gabbang”

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