Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Hope, New Beginning for San Joaquin’s 8th BAYLUHAY Festival

Iloilo is a province of festivals. Though all the festivals have their importance; some stands out as a unique gift of Ilonggo culture.

Ilonggos have many customs and traditions rooted in the cultures of their forefathers who settled this great land after journeying long distances from other nations. San Joaquin is a town of rich culture and expressive festivals that are enjoyed and celebrated with a great zeal. Of this the 6-day long BAYLUHAY Festival in this cultural town has gained attraction.

This festival commemorates the legendary Barter of Panay that started sometime in the 13th century when 10 Bornean datus or chieftains, namely: Datu Puti - the leader, Datu Bangkaya, Datu Dumalugdog, Datu Sumakwel, Datu Lubay, Datu Paiburong, Datu Dumangsil, Datu Balensusa, Datu Paduhinog and Datu Dumangsol left their land together with their families and friends to escape from the cruelty and injustice of their ruler, Sultan Makatunaw. They sailed on their balangays (vintas or boats) without knowing where to go. They reached the island of Panay. They had peaceful intentions with the natives headed by Marikudo and his queen, Maniwangtiwang, and later entered into a trade alliance and negotiated the purchase of Panay Island for a golden salakot and a necklace.

Bayluhay also explores ancient beliefs of their early ancestors that included animism. Spirits were thought to dwell in all objects, particularly natural features such as trees, rocks, water or weather conditions and various forms of offerings were made to these spirits, and places where malign spirits were believed to dwell were avoided. In the presentation, contesting tribes depict the community’s life cycles and interaction with the environment such as birth, baptism, fertility, healing, war, death and re-birth and the relationship of indigenous people’s culture with the environment, and how the preservation of their traditions, spirituality and communal way of life.

Ornamentation is also used to suit the ritual with porcelain plates, spoon and fork, chicken or pig blood, feathers, leaves, knives and other substances and implements used as part of the ceremonial dress. The elderly have a respected place in Indigenous society as keepers of great knowledge and experience about their community’s life. They pass on important ritual information until their health fails, and imminent death is understood and accepted.

San Joaquin is pleased to announce this year’s 8th annual Bayluhay Festival. This unique festival aims to unite the community in celebrating their culture, heritage, and the importance of diversity. The people of San Joaquin headed by their municipal mayor, Hon. Nimfa S. Garin is inviting everyone to its 101st municipal fiesta on January 10-15, 201. With this year’s theme, “New Hope, New Beginning,” the celebration opens with a Grand Parade in the morning and LIGA Night presenting La Jota San Joaquin and Banggi-anay in the evening at the municipal plaza, January 10; SK Night featuring the Search Kang Dayang Kang Bayluhay, 7 p.m., municipal plaza on January 11; SJCES welcomes everyone with their SJCES King and Queen Parade in the afternoon and the Coronation of SJCES King and Queen and Mass Dance in the evening, January 12; Bayluhay Street Dancing and Tribal Dance Competition in the afternoon followed by a Merrymaking on January 13; Vespera Day with the Parade of the Fiesta Queen in the afternoon and the Conferment of the town’s Achiever’s Award and Pasundayag Kang Mga San Joaquinhon in the evening, January 14; The celebration caps with a Mass and Pasungay Festival at the Sports Stadium and the Coronation of Fiesta Queen 2011 on January 12.

Bayluhay is a traditional Ilonggo festival celebrating San Joaquinhon’s appreciation and recognition of their historic past. The society and traditions allied with this festival are exclusive and very special in themselves. Every part of Iloilo celebrates Bayluhay in its own way along with its rich culture and tradition and the happy spirit of the people makes all the distinction.

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