Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Celebrating Cultural Identity for the People of Lambunao through Binanog Festival

authentic Sulod Bukidnon-Lambunao dances the "dinapay"

 for Binanog Festival, Lambunao, photo by Jose de Luna
With its nine years of celebration this year, the people of Lambunao established BINANOG Festival. The celebration was then, as it still is now, an avenue of cultural familiarity where they could preserve, present, teach and share the indigenous cultural traditions of the Bukidnons of the town. It has grown over the years to become an annual tradition for people of the municipality.

The binanog dance is a traditional dance just like any dances of indigenous people rather than a theatrical performance. Incorporated with chants, the dance aims at maintaining the diversity of their indigenous culture thus, the festival’s artistic tradition was born. It brings the soul of this indigenous group to the limelight, celebrating love and the spirit of its people.

Stories about how the Bukidnons learned the binanog steps started when the group was fascinated by the movements of the banog that were eating their chickens. They were captivated with its flight patterns especially how the male banog chased the female banog.

Binanog dance has three varieties: the Binanugan that imitates the movements of the birds; the celebration dance locally known as Inagong sayaw-sayaw; and Dinagmay or the courtship dance. With the symbolic beating of a gong, pairs move in these simple varieties that involve the extension of the arms, flapping in unison with various foot works. Dancers, normally in pairs pace themselves as they move to the steady heartbeat of the gong and dancing for attention with each other. From the heart of their movements, the steps depict courtly pastime and stories that have been handed down over the generations. The culmination of the dance is when the woman dancer, representing the female banog catches the man or the male banog with her handkerchief.

photo by Jose de Luna
Costumes of ethnic minorities vary greatly not only with different nationalities, but also with different branches and different regions within the same ethnic group. Difference can be seen from province to province, from county to county, and even from village to village. Costume is the most obvious symbol of an ethnic group, and in the history, many ethnic groups were named just according to their garments. With so many ethnic groups, styles of clothes vary a lot due to factors such as different economic and cultural levels, natural environment and geographical condition. This is one of the characteristics of folk garments. Some techniques of Philippine ethnic minorities such as embroidery are much developed, and are widely used in making clothing adornments. This is another feature of their costumes.

Binanog costumes retain a distinct characteristic of their ethnic group and the locality. Costume for the female dancer is of patadyong--- a cotton fabric in plaid patterns of red, blue, yellow, green and pink with white borders, is considered as the most popular hinabol, the term given to any hand-woven fabric made out of fibrous materials. The fabric has become the main symbol of Iloilo and Ilonggo culture and continues to be used, especially in rural areas, for a variety of purposes. An embroidered top with bell-like sleeves known as saipang complements the lower garment.

This totally traditional festival is unique in that adults and children take an integral part in the dances. Performances by competing tribal groups mark the highlight of one of Iloilo's most important festivals of indigenous art.

photo by Jose de Luna
With this year’s theme, “Binanog, Bugal nga Dunang Manggad kag Kultura kang Lambunaonon”, the 9th Binanog Festival opens in January 7-9 with series of activities. The festival opens in January 7 with a Motorcade and the Opening Program at the municipal gym in the morning; the Inter-agency Sportsfest, Torch Parade around the poblacion, Para-Liturgy at the Bandstand, and the PYAP Night with Live Band capping the day. January 8 will showcase a Sportsfest, Laro ng Lahi elementary division, inter-municipal Boxing Tournament, and highlights the day with the annual Search for Lin-ay kang Binanog. January 9 welcomes everyone with a Procession of Sto. Nino images, Pasundayag of non-competing groups performances and the much-anticipated Tribe Competition in the afternoon. Merry making follows with the Awarding of tribe winners, Fireworks Display and Live Band.

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