Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Beast of Burden and Beauty

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization mentioned that that in the year 2000, the domestic water buffalo estimates to 158 million in the world, and 97% of it were in Asia, specifically, in various part of Southeast Asia; Guam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Descended from the wild water buffalo now an endangered species, the domestic water buffalo, locally known in the Philippines as carabao or kalabaw is the product of thousands of years of selective breeding in Southeast Asia. The water buffalo genus includes water buffalo, tamaraw and anoas.

Water buffaloes are of the river type and the swamp type. The Philippine carabao is of swamp type, cooling itself by lying in a waterhole or mud during the heat of the day.

Slow and restful, the Carabaos have been domesticated in the Philippines since the pre-Hispanic times. The so-called "beasts of burdens," are put to continuous work from the age of four years till it reaches 15 years or beyond to help farmers plow the fields and with loads of several tons, transport them and their produce to the market.

Despite the proliferation hand tractors, carabaos are still the farmer’s work animal. And because of that, it has been, for many years, our country’s national symbol.

According to research, carabaos are dwindling in number and are already vanishing. The Laguna-based Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) noted that carabao population in the country has steadily dropped since 1988. Statistics collected showed that in 1988 there were 2.95 million carabaos in the country. However in 1992, it dwindled to 2.48 million and the trend is continuing even today.

But the holding of various carabao-related activities such as parades and races does not only promote its significance as a national animal, but also help in their preservation. It also recognizes its socio-economic importance and considered part of our country's national heritage and treasure.

And to revive local traditions and old practices in agricultural communities, farmers pay tribute to carabaos for they are very important to them and their local economy. The towns of San Isidro, Nueva Ecija, Pulilan, Bulacan and Angono, Rizal have farmers guiding their carabaos to the church square to be part of the procession. They do not only kneel for blessings but like penitents, the carabaos also walk on their knees in front of the church and are individually blessed by a priest as they pass by to pay homage to their patron saint.

Amid the scorching heat of the sun, most often in unplanted farmland, villagers and tourists gather to watch locally-bred carabaos race. In the towns of Sto Domingo in Ilocos Sur, Vigan, Pavia and Passi City in Iloilo, carabaos take the center stage through grand spectacle although they are not particularly noted for their speed. Each carabaos are attached with a bamboo carriage and race across the fields reaching finish line. Prior to the event, they are trained daily.

Carabaos are also exhibited as an artwork. Farmers clean their carabaos' skin until it is smooth and polished. The horns are smeared with oil and given gloss. Then, they are sometimes groomed and dressed or artistically painted, decorated with ribbons sometimes, painted and attached to carts and parade them through the town. Prizes are awarded to the most gaily-decorated and beautifully-painted carabaos. This does not only draw participants closer to farmers’ best friend but also lures tourists.

In March 27, 1992, the Philippine Carabao Act or Republic Act 7307 was signed into law by former President Corazon Aquino, speaker Ramon Mitra and senate president Neptali Gonzalez. Authored by then Sen. Joseph Estrada, the law led to the creation of the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) and became an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture. PCC was tasked to make better the farmers’ income and general well-being. The agency was also commissioned to enhance carabao’s potentials as a source of draft power, meat, milk and hide. Research says that carabaos provide more than 5% of the world’s milk supply. The “caracow,” a crossbreed carabao and cow, with nursing calf can produce 300 to 380 kilograms of milk during a lactation period of about 180 days. It is said that a carabao’s milk is more nutritious than cattle and goat milk. The caracow’s milk contains five percent protein while only 3.5 percent protein is in cow and goat’s milk (Laguna-based Dairy Training and Research Institute).

The following year, on May 14, 1993, former President Fidel Ramos also launched the National Carabao Development Program to upgrade the local carabao breed for milk and meat production. Scientists and researchers have been conducting series of researches to hasten the reproduction of high-breed carabaos.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Intense Spirituality and Religious Faith of Leganes Through SAAD Festival

photo by JV Perez (PALI)

In Leganes, there are a number of local celebrations and are varied. But without any doubt the most important and characteristic of them is the one celebrated in April alongside its annual town fiesta, the annual SAAD Festival.

There is no better way to get to know Leganesnons than through this attractive festivity where they put on a grand show with fairs, pilgrimages and religious processions, not only for themselves but also for those who come from afar to appreciate and take pleasure in. With unpretentious and ardent affection, Leganesnons associate their celebration of Saad with everything they do in life.

Saad, a Hiligaynon term for “vow”, depicts Leganesnons’ intense spirituality and religious faith. This tourism celebration provides visitors the opportunity to worship with the local Christian community.

Leganes is popularly known as a pilgrimage town to devotees of San Vicente Ferrer, the central figure of the celebration, reputed for his piety, scholarship, and preaching and has touched the lives of many who believed.

photo by JV Perez (PALI)

The festival cultural competition is based on a praise and worship presentation combining the town’s folktale. With choreographed steps, the sound of drums and trumpets interspersed with shouts of "San Vicente Ferrer, Igampo Mo Kami!," with laughs and cries from performers they dance for joy to praise their patron saint for his deliverance.

As the Spanish culture spread across the country, cultural symbols of Spain like for this festival in particular were identified with certain Spanish clothing. Performers would be dressed distinctively and are called for elaborate costumes. Part of their costumes are religious accessories, most common in the festival is the "devotional scapular" or locally known as escapulario. The devotional scapular typically consists of two small, usually rectangular pieces of cloth, wood or laminated paper, a few inches in size which may bear religious images or text. These are joined by two bands of cloth of red color and the wearer places one square on the chest, rests the bands one on each shoulder and lets the second square drop down the back. The mantilla for the females is another most prominent accessory. The mantilla is a kind of scarf of light material, often embroidered with gold and silver and large enough to cover the neck and both shoulders and can also veil the face.

photo b JV Perez (PALI)

This year, the festival for St. Vincent Ferrer goes on for two weeks from March 24 until April 6, 2011 and is a major event in the province. The Garden Show opens on March 24; A Novenario to San Vicente Ferrer will start fro March 27-April 4; Saad Festival Opening Salvo and the Opening of Agro-Industrial and Trade Fair at 2 p.m. and Opening of Food Festival at 7 p.m. on March 28; Sports Activities on March 29; a Grand Civic Parade at 2 p.m. on April 1; 1st SAAD Job Fair at 8 a.m., 2nd SAAD Kite Flying Contest/ Larong Pinoy/ Paupas: Battle of Mini Sounds/ SALT: Airsoft Competition and the LNHS Alumni Dinner for a Cause on April 2; Fun Run/ Boxing at the Park/ Sports Activities/ Sound System Showdown/ SALT: Airsoft Competition/ Mayor Rojas Regional Arnis Cup and Whahaha!, an evening of fun and laughter on April 3; SAAD Festival Cultural and Mardi Gras Parade and Competition at 7 a.m., Procession Mass at 3 p.m. and the Awarding/ Band Concert/ Fireworks at 7 p.m. on April 4; Fiesta Day/ Mass and the Coronation of Fiesta Queen 2011 at 7 p.m. on April 5; Balki Bayan and Poblacion Night on April 6, 2011.

Festivals and fiestas are celebrated almost every month in Iloilo. In fact, there is scarcely a day in the year without a town festival or fiesta, with each having its own patron saint and annual celebration.

Our local festivals are of various types and it varies from town to town. There are a few that are religious in origin and highlight the religious component as the general spirit of celebration.

SAAD Festival is not only concerned with providing amusement for Leganesnons and others and with offering a show of striking costumes and dances: more than anything else their goal is to abide by the rites of their fathers which are so deeply rooted in their consciousness.

“Kultura Nga Pinanubli, Aton Ikabuhi” for the 110th Foundation Anniversary of Iloilo Province

To acknowledge milestones in our local history, the provincial government annually celebrates Semana Sang Iloilo.

With this year’s theme “Kultura Nga Pinanubli, Aton Ikabuhi,” the colorful function is scheduled with a week-long series of activities highlighting the provinces’ 110 years of service to the community from April 4-11, 2011. The events are scheduled to open on April 4 (Monday) with a Eucharistic Mass at 8 a.m. at the Capitol lobby; the Opening Ceremony will follow with a ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Agricultural Fair along with an exhibition that will feature a variety of products made by traditional artisans and members of self-help groups through the OTOP Display at the Capitol car park, Photo Exhibit at the capitol lobby an Photo Essay Exhibit at the 2n floor at the Capitol; the 3-day Food Festival opens at 5 p.m. at the Capitol car park with a mini-concert from the University of San Agustin Troubadours and the rondalla group of Himig Cuerdas at Tiklado.

April 5 (Tuesday) opens with a Disaster Preparedness Seminar and Earthquake Drill at the Conference room, 5th floor, Capitol from 8:30 a.m. till 3 p.m., Memorial Lecture by Hon. Demy Sonza in Sta. Barbara at 9-11 a.m., and the Inter-municipal Folkdance Competition at the Capitol car park, 5 p.m.

April 6 (Wednesday) invites everyone with opportunities galore through a Jobs Fair at the Capitol lobby from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m., Cooperative Congress at the 5th floor, Capitol from 8 a.m. till 4 p.m., and the Inter-municipal Binalaybay Competition at 6 p.m., Capitol car park;

April 7 (Thursday) Inter-Floor Games at the Iloilo Sports Complex and Covered Gym; the annual HARP Awarding Ceremony at 8 a.m. till 12 noon, Capitol lobby and the Agricultural Achievers 2011 Awarding Ceremony at 2 – 4 p.m., 5th floor New Capitol.

April 8 (Friday) Memorial Lecture by Hon. Demy Sonza at the 5th floor, New Capitol; and the much-anticipated festival performances through the Pasundayag Sang Mga Banwa organized by the Iloilo Tourism Officers Association (ITOA). The festival parade at 2.pm. will start at the Freedom Grandstand and performances of the five municipal tribes will be at the New Capitol car park.

April 10 (Sunday) the 1st Adlaw Sang Iloilo Marathon at 5:30 a.m., Capitol Carpark and Iloilo Sports Complex.

April 11 (Monday) will be highlighted by Capitol Employees Family Day at 8 a.m. till 4 p.m. at the New Capitol lobby and a Fellowship Night with the recognition of Ilonggo achievers in the field of culture and the arts 7p.m. at the New Capitol lobby.

The vital role of arts, language, heritage, crafts, lands, architecture and agriculture, as well as economic development and local government will highlight the celebration.

It is through this celebration that the provincial government aims to transfer our local culture in terms of language and the arts between generations. The celebration also hopes to strengthen its ties with various stakeholders in order to promote our culture and heritage that can help shape up the young generation of today.

Cultural and heritage tourism is important to us to be able to help keep our industry strong and it is critical that we all work together.

The 110th Foundation Anniversary of Iloilo province is also brought to you by the Department of Tourism Regional Office, San Miguel Beer Corporation, Pepsi Cola Philippines and GMA-6 Iloilo. For more information, call the Office of Culture, Arts, History and Tourism at 3384910.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Endless Adventure and Pleasure to Coral Gardens in Concepcion

The beaches in Concepcion are one of the calmest beaches in Iloilo for swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. These water activities are without a doubt one of the most enjoyable experiences Concepcion can offer you. The crystal-clear waters and the wide variety of marine life make snorkeling here an unforgettable adventureImmerse yourself in an oasis of natural tranquility.

Snorkel amidst the kaleidoscopic marine life and the coral garden of Takot Lutaw Reef at Barangay Polopina. The waters are protected by this 10-hectare reef. If you are a beginner or an experienced diver, Takot Lutaw Reef will provide you with an amazing experience you will never forget. The best time to go is in the morning before anybody else starts snorkeling. You have the water to yourself and the tranquility of the morning.

Corals are joined together in this area where you will see many schools of fish. Some of the areas are about 5 to 7 feet to be able to get a bird's eye view of the coral like you can almost reach out and touch the formations. There are a variety of shapes and sizes of corals in the area; some form hard, pointed shapes, while others form soft, rounded shapes, intricate shapes with delicate branching patterns.

If you are a beginner or an experienced diver, Takot Lutaw Reef will provide you with an amazing experience you will never forget. The best time to go is in the morning before anybody else starts snorkeling. You have the water to yourself and the tranquility of the morning. On your scuba or diving adventure, you will probably encounter many species of tropical fish and coral.
Corals are often mistaken as a rock or plant. They are actually composed of tiny, fragile animals called coral polyps. So, when we say coral, we refer to these animals and the skeletons they leave behind after they die.

There are hundreds of different species of corals and are generally classified as either hard coral or soft coral. Hard corals are the architects of coral reefs and they grow in colonies. Their skeletons are made out of calcium carbonate or limestone, which is hard and eventually becomes rock. Soft corals, on the other hand, are soft and bendable and often resemble plants or trees. These corals do not have stony skeletons, but instead grow wood-like cores for support and fleshy rinds for protection.

Corals need to grow in shallow water where sunlight can reach them. Since it depends on the algae that grow inside of them and this algae needs sunlight to survive, corals too need sunlight to survive. It also needs clear water to survive and don't thrive well when the water is opaque. It is sensitive to pollution and sediments that block out sunlight and smothering coral polyps. Pollution from sewage and fertilizers increases nutrient levels in the water, harming corals.
Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems on Earth and are the largest living structure on the planet. Coral reefs form natural barriers that protect nearby shorelines from the eroding forces of the sea, thereby protecting coastal dwellings, agricultural land and beaches.

The tourism industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the global economy. Coral reefs are a major draw for snorkelers, scuba divers, recreational fishers, and those seeking vacations in the sun. Our northern towns stand to benefit from the recreational value provided by their presence, hoping to attract a share of visitors annually to their beaches.

Discover the many pristine island paradise in Concepcion. Politically subdivided into 25 barangays, eleven of which are island barangays, and fourteen of which are on the mainland and has a total land area of 9,702.04 hectares. There are 14 identified protected areas in Concepcion covering more than 5,000 hectares.

The possibilities for adventure and pleasure are endless. Whatever your preference, from scuba diving, boat excursions, exploring snorkeling wonders, island getaways where you can be left on a deserted beach with lunch and an umbrella, it is all here for you in Concepcion, a destination that boasts of the natural splendors of sun, sand and sea.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Dream Beach Holiday Destination in Exotic CARLES

Iloilo is something really special. It has a long coastline and some amazing destinations full of unique attractions and incredible landscapes.

One can enjoy Iloilo at its most natural. A holiday to the islands is an exotic experience. Beach holidays are a perfect tonic for relaxation, and when in Iloilo, the municipality of Carles is a perfect exotic getaway to unwind with its superb romantic island beaches that will surely take your breath away.

At the tip of northern Iloilo is this picturesque municipality renowned for its beautiful beaches and rich fishing grounds. Carles has a land area of 11, 204 hectares and is politically subdivided into 33 barangays, 18 of which are island barangays. It is a 2nd Class municipality bounded in the north by Jintotolo Channel, northwest by the Visayan Sea; west by the Municipality of Pilar, province of Capiz; south by the municipality of Balasan; and the east by Guimaras Strait. It is 146 kilometers or a three-hour ride from Iloilo City.

Broad bands of fine white sand and gentle islands, natural swimming pools, beaches of all types with crystal-clear water and beautiful marine reefs with their fantastical inhabitants can be found in the area.

Most famous is the unspoiled and isolated Isla de Gigantes or Giant Islands comprising of Norte (north) and Sur (south). It is known for its extraordinary huge rock formations sitting on azure waters boasting its white sand beaches and colorful marine life. It is the site of majestic marble walls or cliffs popularly known to the locals as pader. The Islands were also identified by the National Museum as an archeological site due to the discovery of abundant archeological materials, notably earthenware ceramics that are typically of metal age.

Approximately a 15-minuter motorized-boat ride east from Sitio Langub is Tangke. Located on the southern side of barangay Gabi in Isla de Gigantes Sur, it is a hidden saltwater lagoon formed by a surrounding wall of granite monolithic cliffs. One needs to climb on its steep rocky wall that serves as the lagoon’s fortress. However, an easier and shorter climb from where the motorized-boat docks alongside its walls is done only during high tide. The lagoon’s rocky borders offer spelunkers and trekkers a number of caves with one-of-a-kind formations.

An hour and a half motorized-boat ride from Barangay Bangcal in mainland Carles is the island of Sicogon. Part of the Gigantes group of islands, Sicogon is situated in Barangay Buaya measuring 1,104 hectare was once considered as one of the country’s premier beach resorts during the 70’s until the early 80’s. It is said to be longer than Boracay Island’s 7-kilometer stretch with its white sand beach lined up with coconut trees. During its heyday, it has its own operational airstrip. The area is also rich in aquatic treasures such as coral reefs and rare marine life ideal for scuba diving and snorkeling. In fact, the sea surrounding the Sicogon-Gigantes island chain is the traditional fishing ground of local fishermen due to its abundant marine life. Another attraction to the island is Mt. Opao that gives a commanding view of the nearby islands. Its forested slopes are acclaimed to be the haven of wild boars, bald eagles, pitcher plants, and various species of flora and fauna. Sicogon Island appeals more to the adventurous tourists, backpackers and nature-lovers. For those who would to stay overnight and experience the serenity of rural life, there are lodging houses in the area.

Barangay Barosbos is a resort strip with accommodations lined-up along the highway facing a long stretch of white sand beachfront. Most popular is the Alvarez Beach Resort that can accommodate a large group perfect excursion with 10 open cottages. Buendia Beach Resort is another popular destination in the area with its open cottages.

Shangri-La Family Resort is one of the most picturesque beach resorts in the area. It is a four hectare family-owned resort situated in the secluded area of Barangay Barosbos. It started as a family getaway but is now open for public. It has an amazing view of the Northern Iloilo shoreline. It has 10 rooms and two pavilions perfect for family and office gatherings. The resort approaches each event with a simple yet personal touch, offering their place which will enable guests to enjoy the tranquil beauty of area at the same time relaxing and enjoying the time. For inquiries or reservations please call (033) 396208 or visit their website at http://carlesshangrila.wordpress.com.

Palm Garden Beach Resort is famous for its nice landscape. It has six rooms and two pavilions perfect for beach weddings and other gatherings.

Located 3 kilometers from the poblacion is Blue Lagoon Beach Resort situated 300 meters away from the national road of Barangay Guinticgan. This hill-type beach resort has an area of 16,072 square meters and is elevated to have a grand view of the horizon. Varieties of tropical trees surround the area. The sunrise is particularly spectacular. It has six rooms equipped with electricity and water facilities. It has nipa huts perfect for excursionists.

Dos Hijas Beach Resort has 16 rooms, a pavilion for social gatherings and open cottages. It is located at Barangay Guinticgan. Though the resort is currently on sale, it is still operational. The resort caters to special occasions, such as weddings, birthdays and seminars. Also in the same area is the Jeanette and Lovisa Resort. It has two rooms for overnight stay and open cottages for picnic.

A kilometer away from the town proper is Beach Head Resort. It has 12 rooms that could accommodate stay-in visitors. It has a pavilion open for meetings and other functions. It also offers an inter-island hopping package to visitors. The resort is owned and managed by Mrs. Marites Betita and can be reached at cellular phone numbers 0919 6895036 and 0919 8328216.

Punta Carles Beach Resort in Barangay Punta is a resort with a dormitory type accommodation of 16 rooms. It has a large pavilion for social functions and eight open cottages.

While in the islands of Gigantes, one can stay Gigantes Hideaway Beach Resort in Barangay Asluman. It has a big cottage with six nipa huts and three open cottages.

Sprawl by the warm turquoise waters of Carles and enjoy a fun-filled holiday on beautiful beaches with your family or relax in the arms of your loved one on an exotic beach holiday. Enjoy a relaxing escape to Carles.

To get to Carles from Iloilo City, one must take a bus or an L-300 van from Tagbak Terminal in Jaro. To get to the islands of Gigantes Norte and Sur, Sicogon, Binuluangan and Naburot Islands, one can take a motorized-boat ride from Bancal Causeway, where the fishing port of the town is located and the starting point to all mainland and island destinations in the area.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Celebrating 13 years of Skin Stories for PINTADOS DE PASI Festival

The Pintados de Pasi Festival is a celebration with its own unique flavor. It foretells Passi’s pre-Spanish history from battles, epics and folk religion. It displays the rich cultural heritage of the city, incorporating tribal music and dances. It prides itself in offering an open, friendly environment filled with artistic, creative energy.

The most anticipated feature of the festival is the tribal dance competition where the streets of the city is filled with body-painted dancers in patterns looking a lot like tattooed warriors of old. Guests get a glimpse of the history of the people that once lived on the islands of Panay so long ago.

Tattoo has a long history in the Philippines. For centuries, tattoos had adorned the bodies of aboriginal groups. Majority of what we know today about this ancient art has been passed down through legends, songs, rituals and ceremonies.

Spaniards came to central Panay and found in the area heavily tattooed men and women, whom they called Pintados. The name Pintados is derived from what the native warriors, whose bodies were adorned with tattoos, they had a culture of their own, commemorating victories by holding festivals and honoring their gods after a bountiful harvest.

Tattooing has been practiced in our culture for centuries and is done as a form of celebration, a means of self expression and membership to a group. People used tattoos to mark the various ranks and status within their group. In fact, groups had unique designs. Thus, it was possible to identify a person's origins based on their tattoos.

Tattooing, its role, patterns and techniques have continued to exist for many centuries. Most of these aboriginal groups had similar traditions. While some had a strong tradition of tattoo in the past, the presence of Spanish missionaries in the country completely extinguished the art.

Tattooing is done by a highly-skilled and trained male member of the tribe who is more knowledgeable in both literal and figurative meanings of patterns, position, and associated responsibilities. It was said that a tattooed young man is more attractive to women because he had shown his dedication and bravery. The tattoos of women were less extensive being limited to the hand, arms, feet, ears and lips.

Common patterns were of linear, circular and geometric motifs. Each of the geometric designs, including lines and circles had multiple meanings based on placement on the body, incorporation with other designs, and the person being tattooed. The most extensive were applied to the men. However, the women did share in the art as well.

Tattoos are still applied today just as they were centuries back. The Pintados de Pasi Festival serves as the last bastion of an unbroken tradition of tattooing in Panay. The festival keeps the focus on creativity — without leaving behind the character at the root of tattoo traditions.

On its 13th year, Passi City is inviting everyone to witness once again their annual celebration of Pintados de Pasi Festival that will open on March 14, 2011, a Monday, with a 6.30 a.m. Mass at Parish of Saint William; 8:00 a.m. with the Opening Program and Opening Salvo; 1:00 p.m. for the Battle of the Mini-Sound; 6:30 p.m. is the Opening Food Festival with Live Band; and at 7:00 p.m. with Miss LGU “KUNO” on its 7th year sponsored by Passi City Government Employees Association. March 15, a Tuesday, at 7:00 p.m. highlights the day with the Talents Night for the annual Search for Bb. Pintados; March 16, a Wednesday at 7 p.m. is the Pinta Lawas of Ginoong Pintados; March 17, a Thursday, is the Pintados de Pasi Cultural Contest; March 18, a Friday, at 7:00 a.m. is the Karosa Parada and Carabao Painting Contest, at 7:00 p.m. is the Grand Coronation Pageant for the Search for Bb. Pintados; March 19, a Saturday at 7:00 a.m. is the Sinadya sa Suba at the Jalaur River near the Passi City Bus Terminal; at 6:00 p.m. is for Pintados Night; and March 20, a Sunday at 6:30 a.m. is a Mass at Parish of Saint William, 8:00 a.m. is for the much-anticipated Tribe Competition, 3:00 p.m. is for the Awarding and Closing Program, and at 7:00 p.m. is intended for “A Night with STARS” and Fireworks Display.

Celebrating Tubungan’s Colorful and Vibrant Cultural Festival

Tubungan, Iloilo on its 250th Foundation Anniversary will celebrate the 17th Tubong-Tubong Festival, the town’s tradition that runs ...