Saturday, March 24, 2018

Semana Santa sa Iloilo: Semana de Turismo

Iloilo, the celebration of Semana Santa has become a major source of domestic tourism as many Ilonggos can take advantage of a long weekend for travel. Domestic travellers go out of the city to the nearest towns to make a pilgrimage at the same time to enjoy a beach or mountain getaway.

Travelling during this time can be a special and intense experience for many, an opportunity not just to observe but also to become immersed in deeply-felt local cultural traditions.

The week pays tribute to the Passion of Jesus Christ, the time of suffering before his crucifixion and death. As Iloilo boasts a large population of Catholic believers, many approach the Lenten season as an occasion for great, albeit somber, festival-making. That is why Semana Santa or the Holy Week is one of the most widely celebrated and important religious holiday of the year.

Observances of many kinds can be witnessed in virtually every town in Iloilo, beginning with Domingo de Ramos or Palm Sunday and ending on Domingo de Gloria or Easter Sunday. Each municipality boasts unique traditions for celebrating Semana Santa.

Domongo de Ramos or Sunday is celebrated where the faithful joins in a special mass which includes the blessing of palm fronds or palm crosses. A large procession follows after the mass which commemorates Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. As he rode into the city on a donkey, his followers spread palm branches at his feet and called him "Hosanna" or "Savior." Palm branches were considered symbols of victory and triumph at the time. Christian churches all over will be decorated with palm branches. The parish priest will walk towards the church, while the congregation places palms before him. Many hand out palm branches that have been blessed by the priest to the congregation, who will then make them into crosses. The branch is meant to serve as a reminder of the Christ's victory over death.

A large percentage of the faithful goes Visita Iglesia or Church Visit to pay homage to Christ. It is a traditional practice among devout Catholics normally visiting seven or more churches on Holy Thursday. The faithful, during Visita Iglesia, pray on Stations of the Cross in the church. Iloilo is home to a number of beautiful century-old churches and monuments. No wonder it is a favourite Visita Iglesia destination for many.

In the towns Barotac Viejo and Banate remembers the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ through their annual Passion Plays on Biernes Santo or Holy Friday. Both involve a cast of almost nearing a hundred of performers playing key roles in the Biblical story. No professional actors are hired for the play, which is performed only by those who were born in the towns mentioned. The play's cast is drawn from all walks of life from within the municipality. The play is performed in Hiligaynon.

In the mid-afternoon of Biernes Santo or Good Friday, the streets of many historic centers are filled with multitudes and the faithful carrying rosaries and candles for the grand Lenten procession. Mounted on floats fully lighted and lavishly decorated, mostly of fresh flowers are huge, heavy and most often almost a century-old Biblical Lenten character statues where the towns of Janiuay, Sta. Barbara, Cabatuan, Oton and Leganes are famous for. The procession departs after the afternoon mass from their historic churches and winds a route through their poblacion or town center. The towns mentioned boasts to be among the most fervent and colourful Holy Week processions in Iloilo.

The town of Cabatuan welcomes everyone with their annual Kapiya and Pasyon competitions after the procession on Good Friday. Every barangay around the town center proudly display their beautifully Kapiyas (Stations of the Cross) with life-sized Lenten sculptures made from indigenous materials. The Kapiyas are well-lighted during the evening. Pasyon is a practice of continued singing without disruption from start to finish. The song recounts the life of Christ with commentaries and moral lessons and ends with verses that encouraged everyone to follow the teachings of Christ. It also speaks of sin and the punishment of hell. The singers, young and old are engage in marathon chanting of the Christ’s Passion in their little makeshift bamboo chapels clustered in the different streets of the town.

Domingo de Gloria is unquestionably the most important day of the entire Lenten week. It is a time for spiritual renewal and people expect to see plenty of festive crowds bustling about every town plaza following services.

The Department of Tourism is piloting emerging faith tourism destinations highlighting various Filipino traditions that will encompass a holistic pilgrimage experience. Filipinos is encouraged to visit faith-based tourism destinations and participate in the various Lenten activities in their respective towns and cities.

The Provincial Tourism Office is enhancing its promotions of the provinces’ rich cultural heritage embodied in the historical, architectural and religious significance of it numerous churches and age-old traditions.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Passi City: Taking Great Pride in Pintado Tradition

Passi City, Iloilo will celebrate its Pintados de Pasi Festival on March 10-24, 2018 alongside with its 20th Cityhood Anniversary celebration. With the theme,” Go, Passi! Soar to Greater Height!,” In an effort to preserve their cultural heritage, an annual festivity of their tattoo tradition adds the important people in their community’s journey with series of events have been prepared for this 3 week-long festivity.

March 10 (Saturday) Mass and Opening Program, Recognition of Awardees, Opening of Food Festival, Passi Peoples Trade Fair, Garden Show and Concert at the Park with Live Band; March 11 -24 for Food Festival, Passi Peoples Trade Fair and Garden Show; March 12 (Monday) Concert at the Park; March 13 (Tuesday) Concert at the Park; March 14 (Wednesday) 20th Cityhood Anniversary with Pintados Street Dancing at 8 a.m. and Mass at 5 p.m.; March 15 – 19 with Concert at the Park; March 20 (Tuesday) Bb. Pintados 2018 Talents Competition at 4 p.m.; 

March 21 (Wednesday) Parade and Pasundayag at 8 a.m., Golden Hearts Award and Handuraw at 7 p.m.; March 22 (Thursday) Laro ng Lahi, Pinta Lawas and Ginoong Pintados; March 23 (Friday) Karosa Parada and Karabaw Pagwapa and Pagwapo at 7 a.m. with the Coronation Night of Bb. Pintados at 7 p.m.; , March 24 (Saturday) Mass, Pintados Tribe Competition at 8 a.m., Awarding Ceremonies and Fireworks Display at 6 p.m., Night with the Stars at 7 p.m.; March 25 (Sunday) Thanksgiving Mass; April 6 (Friday) Judging Pintados 2018 Photo Contest; April 8 (Sunday) Awarding Ceremony for Photo Contest; April 8 -16 Photo Exhibit of winning Pintados photos.

In the Visayas, tattooing was highly revered and ritualised. The tattooing would begin usually during adolescence. Patterns are one of a kind. They are always highly intricate and detailed and display the craftsmanship and artistry of not only the artist but of the local culture.

The complex art of body tattooing existed in the Visayan Islands long before the arrival of Spanish conquistadors to our shores. Known to be “Pintados,” they were fierce and noble warriors covered with intricate solid patterns all over their body.

Only people of rank or status were allowed to have tattoos. A person who did not have any high-ranking social status, and those who could not have a tattoo were seen as people of lower social status.

The designs were not meant as an embellishment to their bodies, rather to mark a rite of passage like that from childhood into adulthood or as a mark to begin their journey of becoming a fearsome warrior.

For men, the most common are the ones on their chests, tattooed only to those who successfully waged war. Series are added to it depending on the number of succeeding battles won. At times, patterns extend to their backs arms, thighs and legs. The bravest warrior is believed to be tattooed on the face.

Women also possess tattoos on their body, mostly in the chin area, arms and fingers where they are seen in our local culture as sexual lures or signs of fertility and beauty.

For Pintados de Pasi festival, this traditional art honoured through dance accompanied by music and occasional chanting has made a strong impact in the community as the people have inserted their own meanings and themes into this traditional art work. For Passinhons, Pintados tattooing has remained their cultural symbol.

The City of Passi City is situated 50 kilometers away or an hour and twenty-minute drive from Iloilo City. It is located along the Central portion of the province using the Iloilo-Capiz National Highway.  It is politically subdivided into 51 barangays over a land area of 25,068 hectares. It shares boundaries with San Enrique on the north; on the south is Dumarao, Capiz; Calinog on the east; and on the west is Lemery.

Visitors to Passi City can take the bus at the new Ceres Terminal in Jaro, Iloilo City. For more information about the celebration, please contact Mrs. Gina Palmares – CityTourism Officer at (033) 3115087/ 3115947.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Tikab-Tikab Festival: Committing to the Livelihood of Asluman

Barangay Asluman, Gigante Norte, Carles, Iloilo will celebrate its 4th Tikab-Tikab Festival on March 22-25, 2018. It was not until years ago that scallops in Gigante islands became popular, and islanders quickly realized they were surrounded by a valuable commodity, literally waiting each season to be scooped off the bottom, shipped to the mainland and sold at a premium.

Highlighting the celebration are series of events that will open on March 22 (Thursday) with a Parade and presentation from students of Asluman Elementary School; March 23 (Friday) Miss Gay, Dance Contest for Women hosted by Womens Association; March 24 (Saturday) Lin-ay Sg Tikab-Tikab Festival, Live Band; March 25 (Sunday) Tribal Dance Competition of Granada National High School.

The seafood industry in the area is trying to sell one particular quality that sets it apart, scallops, highly prized as a food source. These brightly multi-colored, symmetrical, fan-shaped shells are valued because it is used as motifs in art and design.

In Barangay Asluman, fishermen dive 15-feet underwater to harvest scallops by hand, but the majority of scallops in the are harvested by draggers. When harvested, scallops are still flipping...alive. Divers bring them in that day within hours, and do not soak them in anything. They just could not get any fresher. Usually when they move you can feel them pulsate. Divers haul in gets hand-delivered to customers right to their picnic cottages. The island residents who use traditional harvesting techniques are a vital, singular connection to their past.

The market is confined essentially to scallop meats though a demand for whole scallops is emerging due to its colorful shell. These are marketed mainly through restaurants in the city, but are also available from specialty seafood shops around northern Iloilo. Fresh scallops tend to be more highly valued than frozen.

Gigante Islands is an island chain situated in the northernmost tip of Iloilo Province. It is approximately 18 kilometers from the main port in Barangay Bancal, mainland of Carles or an hour and a half motorized pumpboat ride or 45-minute by fastcraft depending on sea condition.

Belonging to the municipality of Carles, it is composed of two large islands: Gigante Sur (south) with barangays Lantangan and Gabi and Gigante Norte (north) with barangays Granada and Asluman. The two islands are separated by an 800-metre-wide channel reaching Gigante Norte for another 30-minute motorized pumpboat from Gigante Sur.

Gigante Islands lie in the Visayan Sea---acclaimed to be the richest fishing ground in Southeast Asia. But not known to many, Gigante Islands is home to some of the most biologically diverse and richest coastal and marine resources. The Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE), a biodiversity conservation organization has identified endemic species of a frog (Platymantis insulatu) listed as critical and a gecko (Gigantes Limestone Gecko) listed as endangered under the Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Also identified to be rare in the area are several endemic bird species.

Aside from its marine and coastal resources, Gigantes is popular for shellfish, particularly scallops that thrive in its deep waters. An exceptional treat to visiting tourists, scallops are harvested almost every day at 15-feet deep and are sold P1.00 a piece for an order of a hundred pieces. Very abundant though not easy to collect, it has become an attraction when visiting the islands.

Gigante Norte is a coastal community whose lives depend on fishing but there are other income-generating activities. Both men and women indulge in various income-generating occupations, where men work as pump-boat operators or crew, carpenters, driving tricycle serving as porters and fishers using indigenous and manual methods. Most of the women however, earn income as sari-sari storekeepers, or food, vegetable vendors, laundry, cook in accommodation establishments or souvenir makers all year round. In fishing, the men usually produce catch from the shore and women and children, on the other hand, forage for shells and fish as well.

It was not until years ago that scallops in Gigante islands became popular, and islanders quickly realized they were surrounded by a valuable commodity, literally waiting each season to be scooped off the bottom, shipped to the mainland and sold at a premium.

The annual celebration of Tikab-Tikab will continuously remind the community that aside from sustaining a healthy scallop fishery; maintaining a healthy water environment is a responsibility.  Clean waters and healthy sea life benefits everyone who spends time in the shores of Gigante Islands. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Storytelling, Music, Dance and More for Pagdaug-Saludan Festival

Tigbauan, Iloilo will celebrate its annual Pagdaug-Saludan Festival on March 12 – 18, 2018. The entire community throws a huge celebration to commemorate the landing of the 40th Infantry Division, 185th Infantry Regiment on the shores in Barangay Parara to free the Ilonggos against the Japanese Imperial Armies on March 18, 1945.

Now, 73 years later, the story continues to live in the minds and hearts of every Tigbauanons, and on how they were able to rebuild their lives and carry on their traditions and culture.

The celebration will open on March 12 (Monday) with an Agri-Trade Fair fronting Tourism Office at 8 a.m., Salud Dugo Bloodletting activity at 9 a.m. at the RHU and Parade and Street Dancing Competition at 2:30 p.m.; March 13 (Tuesday) Pagdaug-Saludan Quiz Elementary Level at TCES at 9 a.m., Battle of the Brains Secondary Level at the Covered Gym at 9 a.m. and Sireyna Queen 2018 at the Covered Gym at 7 p.m.; March 14 (Wednesday) Pagdaug-Saludan Cooking Competition at the OSCA Grounds at 9 a.m., 3on3 Basketball Games at the Covered Gym at 9 a.m.

March 15 (Thursday) SCFAI 25th Foundation Day at the Covered Gym at 8 a.m. and Drum Corps Competition at the TCES at 2 p.m., March 16 (Friday) Pagdaug-Saludan Festival Queen at the Covered Gym at 7 p.m.; March 17 (Saturday) Tribal Dance Competition at 2:30 p.m.; March 18 (Sunday) Liberation of Panay and Romblon Day with a Mass at Parara Sur Chapel at 6:30 a.m., Floral Offering at the Landmark at 8:30 a.m., Program for Victory Day at the METES at 9 a.m., Lunch (Budol-Budol) at the METES at 12 nn and Liberation Party at the Plaza at 8 p.m.

From the book “The Liberation of Panay” by Ma. Cielito G. Reyno, It was noted that three years prior to the coming of the Allied Forces, the whole island of Panay was already a liberated zone courtesy of the 6th Military District under the command of Colonel Macario Peralta Jr. along with his 20, 000 local guerrillas. In October of 1944, Col. Peralta received an order from Gen. Douglas McArthur to prepare for the Allied landing plan and to attack certain areas with Japanese garrisons.

The Tiring Landing Field with around 250 Japanese, however, the full-scale attack happened early in February of 1945 targeting Iloilo City, Pavia, Molo, Oton, San Miguel, Lapaz and Tigbauan. Heavy fighting extended until the end of February with Japanese casualties numbering to 700. The battle resumed in March this time with the support of US planes.

The early morning of March 18 when the Allied Forces from the 40th Division led by Major General Rapp Brush. Instead of meeting the enemies, they were received by a rousing welcome from Ilonggo civilians and fighters alike led by Col. Peralta.

On March 20th General Eichelberger along with his contingent entered the city of Iloilo that was already freed from enemy troops. They were welcomed by a cheering crowd. It was on the 22nd of March 1945 that General MacArthur officially declared Iloilo City liberated.

The highlight of the festivity is the tribal dance competition celebrated this year on March 17, Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Performing in a routinary manner in three judging areas, tribes will showcase their interpretations of the segments Pagdaug and Saludan.

The Pagdaug segment highlights the struggles of the locals against the Japanese Imperial Army until liberated by the Allied forces. Saludan showcases Tigbauans’ unique fishing and agricultural practice through Panalud, a Hiligaynon word coined from Salud or the traditional way of gathering or accumulating a thing for its interest or value such as threshing rice using a basket, catching fingerlings through nets or extracting coconut sap or locally known as tuba from the bud of the coconut’s inflorescence.

Tigbauan is 22.5 kilometers or a 30-minute ride south of Iloilo City. The town is politically subdiviede into 52 barangays over a land area of 6,062 hectares, bordered in the northwest by Leon; the northeast by San Miguel; east by Oton; west by Guimbal and the Iloilo Strait in the south.

To get to the town, one can take a Tigbauan, Guimbal, Miagao or San Joaquin jeepneys at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary in Barangay Mohon, Oton or when in the city, at the market situated at the back of Robinsons Place Iloilo. For more information, please contact Mrs. Linda Fe Camina – Municipal Tourism Officer at 09173283997.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Semana Sang Alimodian: Crackling with Colour, Energy and Culture

Alimodian, Iloilo, set off on a journey and discover local culture that have defined and shaped Iloilo as we know it today. For the history enthusiasts and culture admirers, the scenic town of Alimodian is worth discovering.

The town will celebrate its Semana Sang Alimodian on March 10-17, 2018. With the theme, “Selebrasyon kang kasaysayan, sinadya, arte, tradisyon kag kultura nga Alimodianon,” Highlight of the festivity is the launching of the 1st Himud-os Festival with its Hubon or Tribe competition on March 10 (Saturday) at 8 a.m.

March 10 (Saturday) will open with a Diana at 4 a.m., Mass at 6 a.m., Parade at 7:30 a.m. and the Opening Program featuring the Hubon Competition and the Agri-Livelihood Fair at 8:30 a.m.; March 11 (Sunday) Alimodianon Run Against Illegal Drugs at 5 a.m., Mayor Alonsabe Basketball Friendship Game with University of San Agustin Varsity Team at 2 p.m and the Gawad Capt. Agustin Magtanong Awards Night at 7 p.m.; March 12 (Monday) Launching of Barangay PESO and Info Drive on OFW Rights and Privileges alongside Training/ Seminar on Community Based DRRM, Fire Prevention, Health Emergency and Environmental Management   on at SB Session Hall at 9 am – 3p.m.;

March 13 (Tuesday) Saging Food Showcase on the 2nd Level of Municipal Hall at 8 a.m., Cultural Show at 3 p.m.; March 14 (Wednesday) People’s Day at 1 p.m., Talent Night at 7 p.m.; March 15 (Thursday) Farmers Day at 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.; March 16 (Friday) Legal Literacy Program at SB Session Hall at 9 a.m., Volunteers Forum at 1 p.m., and Bulak kang Alimodian at 6 p.m.; March 17 (Saturday) Laro ng Bayan at ANCHS 7 a.m. – 5 p.m., State of the Town Address by Mayor Alonsabe and Closing / Awarding Ceremony at 6 p.m.

Tourism is a strong economic driver for this municipality and cultural tourists - those whose primary reason is to visit or attend or take part in cultural and creative activities - are a new lucrative market segment for Iloilo.

Recognized as an active cultural town, Alimodian is not only beneficial from a tourism perspective. An active cultural scene also contributes to liveability and makes it an attractive place to live, visit and invest.

Capitalising on the complementary nature of the tourism and cultural offers of this town, the celebration is aimed at producing genuine and tangible returns to its local tourism economy and to its local cultural organization.  The festivity also hoped to encourage visitors to stay longer and discover further cultural and natural landscape experiences.

Alimodian is a beautiful and quiet town packed with great natural and historical attractions. It features amazing sites, views and landscapes that are surprisingly diverse, with remote upland barangays, rice paddies, tumbling waterfalls and vegetable plantations.

Alimodian is a Third Class municipality belonging to the Second Congressional District of the Province of Iloilo. Situated 24.6 kilometers away from the city on the south central portion of the province, the town is bounded on the north by the province of Antique; on the east by the towns of Maasin and Cabatuan, Iloilo; on the south by San Miguel, Iloilo and on the west by Leon, Iloilo.

It land area measures 14, 480 hectares politically subdivided by 51 barangays. It annually celebrates its municipal fiesta in honour of its Patron, Sto. Tomas de Villanueva every September 22nd. Market days is every Tuesdays and Fridays.

To get to Alimodian, one can take a jeepney or van at the Jaro Public Market. For more information, please contact Mary Sol Amarillo at 09205674507.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Salakayan: Preserving, Sharing and Promoting Miagao’s History

Miagao, Iloilo will celebrate its 302nd Foundation Anniversary alongside its annual Salakayan Festival on February 4-11, 2017. Salakayan rivals other provinces’ for its colour and creativity. Fancy period costumes, giant papier-maches and community spirit enliven the first week of Arts Month.

Now in its 20th year, the celebration is the town’s way of thanking and remembering the heroism of their ancestors. It gives everyone with an interest in history the chance to witness historical events interpreted thru dance-drama. It has quickly become a cultural gem for the provincial calendar. With a diverse, family-friendly focus, the festival will stage an eclectic range of events and activities throughout the eight-day celebration.

With this year’s theme, “Kasaysayan kag Kutura kang Miagao: Sa Salakayan kag Hablon aton Makit-an!’ the festival has prepared series of special events starting February 4 (Sunday) at 6 p.m., Soft Opening of Food Fair at the Miagao Town Plaza with the MVS Batch 68 Golden Alumni Homecoming and Jubilarians Night at the Miagao Town Plaza at 6:30 p.m.; February 5 (Monday) Pamukaw at 5 a.m., Salakayan Mass at 9 a.m., Opening of Agro-Trade Fair at 10 a.m., Opening Salvo Street Dancing Competition at 2 p.m., Opening of Food Fair at 5 p.m., Salakayan Re-enactment at 6 p.m., and Live Band at 7 p.m.;  February 6 (Tuesday) Cavalcade of Dances at 2 p.m., Zumba Festival at 5 p.m., MCES Alumni Night at 6:30 p.m.

February 7 (Wednesday) Laro ng Lahi at 10:30 a.m., Search for Miss Salakayan 2018 at 7 p.m.; February 8 (Thursday) Miagao Arts Competition at 10 a.m. till 3 p.m., Balikbanwa Night at 7 p.m.; February 9 (Friday) Mass and Fluvial Parade at 8 a.m., Cultural Show: Sleeping Beauty at 12 noon; Games at Sea at 10:30 a.m., Higante Contest at 4 p.m., Liga Night at 7 p.m.; February 10 (Saturday) Salakayan Tribe Competition at 8 a.m., Car Show at 1 p.m., Float Parade at 3 p.m., Tribes’ Night at 7 p.m.; February 11 (Sunday) Mass at 7:15 a.m., Motorcross at 8 a.m., Agape at 8:30 a.m., Car Show at 1 p.m., Coronation of the Queen of Miagao 2018 at 9 p.m.

The local government headed by the very active and tourism-oriented Mayor, Hon. Macario Napulan works hard to preserve, share and promote Miagao’s heritage. It is part of the organizer’s commitment to build awareness of the festivity as the memory of the town and encouraging interest in the history of Miagao and beyond.

A special feature of the presentation are the literally “giants and big heads,” are a common sight at the celebration. They parade through the streets, the giants representing traditional or historical figures and the big heads even tease children and at times chase them. A giant’s costume can be up to thirteen feet tall, draped on a frame sitting on a dancer’s shoulders, and big heads are worn over a costume, covering the face and torso. All performers wear elaborately designed papier-mâché heads.

Taken from the Hiligaynon word “Salakay” or “to attack,” the core of the celebration is based on a locally famous battle fought in May 7, 1754. Every year the citizens remember their victorious liberation against the Muslim pirates with their constant piratical activities and slave-hunting expeditions in the area. The storyline is the base of the individual performances during the annual tribe competition that will take centre stage on February 10 (Saturday) at 8 a.m.

Approximately 40.5 kilometers or an hour ride south from the city is the scenic town of Miagao,  bounded by the town of Igbaras in the northeast; by Guimbal in the east; by San Joaquin in the west; and, by the municipality of Sibalom in the province of Antique in the northwest. It has a land area of 13,286 hectares politically subdivided into 199 barangays.

To get to Miagao, one can take a jeepney at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary Terminal in Barangay Mohon, Oton, Iloilo. Metered taxis are also available at the terminal. For more information, please contact, Anthony Selorio-Municipal Tourism Officer at 09391737407.

Semana Santa sa Iloilo: Semana de Turismo

Iloilo, the celebration of Semana Santa has become a major source of domestic tourism as many Ilonggos can take advantage of a long ...