Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Colors, Fun and Flavors of Calinog’s Indigenous People

a lady's top with colorful tubok patterns, photo by JV Perez (PALI)

The Philippines is a country of diversity. And the same is true of her people. Ours is an ethnically diverse country. Our cultural and ethnic fabric is woven with other foreign ethnic groups that have each contributed to the tapestry that is Philippines.

From the mysterious origins and fates of her earliest inhabitants; the current indigenous peoples; to the history and influence of immigrants from other areas of the world, our country has developed an intricate and fascinating society.

Our country’s topography has played a significant role in giving rise to its amazing cultural diversity. Because individual towns and tribal groups lived in isolation from each other for long periods of time, the subsequent seclusion allowed ethno-linguistic groups to maintain their individual languages, customs and ancestral traditions intact well into the colonial era and, to some extent, to the present day.

Throughout pre-Hispanic Iloilo lived indigenous groups scattered across mountains. And this led the each geographical unit or group to develop its own language and culture. This is a key to understanding our unique and fascinating diversity.

The delicate balance of power that existed between these aboriginal states was forever altered when Spanish soldiers made their way into our land. The Spanish conquistadores encountered indigenous groups speaking of languages, worshipping gods, and practicing a multitude of cultures.

Settlers of Panay had already established themselves there. As the migrants kept coming, the tribes who originally inhabited the area were driven inland toward the rugged and mountainous territory. They were eventually called Bukidnons, meaning "people of the mountains.”

The Panay Bukidnon is a group of indigenous people living in the highlands of Tapaz in the province of Capiz and Calinog in Iloilo. The municipality of Calinog provides some 30-hectare of land on its mountainous village and is protected since it is inhabited by this indigenous group.

a Panay-Bukidnon from Calinog chanting
According to Maria Christine Muyco, Assistant Professor at the College of Music, University of the Philippines and grantee on of Creative and Research Scholarship Fund of the University of the Philippines System on the culture and history of the Panay Bukidnons have been there even before the Spanish Cross of Ferdinand Magellan reached the archipelago. They are known for their rich culture of music and dance, particularly the tradition of singing epics commonly based on the adventures of mythological heroes and heroines and has been kept alive from this day by young girls trained to be oral historians, the "binukot.” It is said that the binukot is the fairest and most intelligent daughter in the entire community chosen by her parents and siblings to learn special skills.

The municipality of Calinog celebrates the history of its founding people with the conduct of the Indigenous People’s Month on October 28, 2011 at 7 a.m. till 4 p.m. With the theme; “Ang Duna nga Kultura Aton e-Preserba,” various activities will be held starting with the Registration of participants at 7 -8 a.m.; Parade and Orientation at 8-9 a.m.; Program with contests in Cuisine, Panubok and Weaving at 9-12 nn; Pahampang of indigenous games at 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.

Through the conduct of this activity, the Panay Bukidnons are given the opportunity to assert their cultural identity some particular set of societal issues and concerns may be voiced which either arise from (at least in part), or have a particular dimension associated with, their indigenous status..

The celebration calls on the public to recognize the living culture of the Panay Bukudnons and to respect and preserve their identity. To understand them, one must understand their culture, their history and contributions to what Iloilo is of today.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Community Collaboration for HAW-AS Festival in Dumangas

photo by Joe de Luna
A great time is planned with music and entertainment at the annual Haw-as Festival in Dumangas. As per festival tradition people gathered to witness and participate in community celebration to mark the festivity.

It is an annual thanksgiving festival for the bountiful fish harvest from the waters in the area. The festival uses the iconic bangus as its symbol because it is their number one product.

Aquaculture such as fish farming is feasible, sustainable and a profitable business here in Dumangas which is also being patronized by rice farmers as a source of their income to help improve the living conditions of their respective families. It is the fastest growing and the most popular food industry of Dumangas. It has grown considerably over many years to keep pace with consumer demand for fresh, high quality fish and seafood, and creating employment opportunities and economic growth, especially for Dumangasanons where it has become a mainstay in the area.

photo by Joe de Luna
Haw-as also celebrates the contribution made to Dumangas by those persons involved in the local fishing industry. The festivity offers every visitor the opportunity to learn more about the town’s culture and to better appreciate and understand its value to the community.

Since its small beginnings, Haw-as Festival has become a part of the local tourist calendar and a vital contributor to the economy of Dumangas. It is a unique attraction that offers fun and entertainment for both locals and visitors alike.

The highlight of the celebration is the “Haw-as Guban: competition dance extravaganza where participating tribes depict and interpret the “haw-as” or fish harvesting through a vivid visual display, graceful gyrations and well-choreographed dances in colorful costumes.

photo by Joe de Luna
Aside from the Haw-as Guban competition, other events on October 28 include a cultural and historical week celebration with the Pagbagting, a declaration of the opening of the festival at 8 a.m. followed by a motorcade, the Street Dancing competition at 3 p.m. and the Bangus and Seafood Extravaganza, a Sugbahanay sa Plaza at 7p.m.; October 29 opens with the 1st haw-as Festival Airsoft CQB Tournament at 8 a.m., and lhe Launching of the Dumangas Artist Guild for the Performing Arts (DAGPA) with a public screening of the film, Dumangas 2010 by Peter Solis Nery; October 30 is for Araw ng mga Kabataan with Laro ng Lahi and the PPSK Inter-Town Sports League at 8 a.m., the Quintin Salas Composo and Binalaybay Contest follows at 1 p.m. and the Hataw Kabataan at 9 p.m.; October 31 is the Quintin Salas Day and Haw-as Guban competition with a Run for Quintin Salas Marathon at 5 a.m., the fireworks display at 9 p.m. and a Party-Party with RCP Retro Band at 9:30 p.m.; the celebration caps with Ligum-Dulom: Kalag-kalag sa Plaza on November 1, 2011.

Dumangas is a 1st class municipality in the province of Iloilo. Politically subdivided into 45 barangays, the town is located northeast and almost an hour drive away from Iloilo City.

PAGDIHON Festival in Dingle

photo by Jun Fuerte

Visitors of Iloilo are often amazed at the amount of history that surrounds the area on a daily basis.

Throughout history, many battles of the Revolutionary War happened here and many Ilonggos have given their lives fighting for freedom and independence. Every year, members of some communities set aside time to honor the memories of the fallen and to pay tribute to those whose memories are held most dear. To show their respect, the people of Dingle celebrate PAHDIHON Festival.

photo by Jun Fuerte

During the celebration Dingleanons give thanks to heroes for the sacrifices they had given. In the time of Pagdihon Festival, a tribal dance spectacle is built up at an open space as performers involved in a rousing telling of the events as they unfold history through a dance-drama presentation.

Adriano Hernandez, the central figure of the celebration, the main character in the dance-drama presentations, is a native of Dingle,Iloilo is a Visayan general, military strategist and patriot. When the natives were asked to volunteer in fighting the Filipino revolutionaries, Hernandez secretly organized a rebel movement in Iloilo against the Spaniards and staged the first armed uprising in the Province of Iloilo. This occurred in Barrio Lincud, Dingle. The event was known as the "Cry of Lincud" on October 28, 1898.

General Hernandez was also the trusted aide of General Martin Delgado because of his excellent display of gallantry and knowledge in military strategy. And when the rebel government in the Visayas was inaugurated in November 1898, Hernandez was designated as Chief of staff. He also led the guerilla movement in the province when Iloilo fell into the hands of the Americans.

Since 2009, this festival is celebrated every year to commemorate the war that was fought in this town. Now the town of Dingle has peace, but every year for one day we depict the war of those times through this festivity.

photo by Jun Fuerte

The celebration is crowded with people of all ages, some talking, greeting, laughing, others maneuvering to find a good place from which to view the performances. The war dance is initiated by events in the lives of Dingleanons. The ceremony occurs in commemoration of their local hero’s accomplishments. The dance leader, taking the role of General Hernandez staring fixedly to large crowd dances in short deliberate steps and with casual concentration other performers dances out the heart beat of the dance. By performing the dance the community gives recognition to men and women of achievement. And in doing so, the community become empowered to define what constitutes achievement in their own generation.

The tribal performances have changed considerably in the past years. The battles of the past have been relegated to remote history. But the celebration of Pagdihon remains at the heart of Dingle’s identity.

As Dingle annually commemorates the Cry of Lingcud, they position themselves in social time with their ancestors as ancestors in the making. They will come to know that to prevail in their own lives they must live like those brave warriors who brought them into the world. This is not a denial of the present moment but as a recognition that the past subsumes it.

On October 23-31, 2011 Dingle will mark the celebration of the 3rd PAGDIHON Festival with series of special events such as the Float Competition’ Search for Miss Pagdihon’ Dulcehan and Pagdihon Kusinero, Symphony of Fire, Moments with the Mayor, Dingle Got Talent, Agri-Fair, Cultural Shows nightly, Motor Show, Mountain Bike Challenge, Horror Night Parade and the highlight of the celebration on October 30 at 7 a.m., the reenactment of the battle in which the locals carried out an attack on the entrenched Spanish forces occupying Iloilo at that time.

By celebrating Pagdihon, Dingleanons celebrate with their ancestors.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fire and Fun for Anilao’s BANAAG Festival

photo by JV Perez (PALI)

The Banaag Festival of Anilao has been blazing a trail for Ilonggos for the last eight years but there is still more to see. Known to be one of the most spectacular festivals in Iloilo, Banaag is a celebration life and spirit; beauty and artistry using fire in tribal performances that mesmerize and enchant spectators. The celebration features dancers who work, tame and shape fire as they spin flaming props and hoops of fire. It is one evening that the people of Anilao hope people attending will be left enriched.

photo by JV Perez (PALI)

This celebration put on by the local government of Anilao showcases visual art inspired by fire incorporates live performers and dramatic musical scores reflecting the history and culture of its people. It explores of fire element and light in the works of local choreographers producing a complex and rare mirages that distorts images in the presentation.

photo by JV Perez (PALI)
The lighting of the fires officiated by the ever-dynamic municipal mayor, Hon. Maria Theresa Debuque will be the heart of the rekindled celebration of the Fires, but the body and soul of the festival will be an incredible performances and entertainment of the competing groups, all in synergy with the incredibly uniformed theme.

photo by JV Perez (PALI)
The occasion is also accompanied by fire works from locally made firecrackers. There is no religious significance attached to it and is a purely secular festival for all Anilaonons. It is a cultural celebration unlike any other. It is showcased at night and created through the alchemy of ceremony, music, theater, dance and art. It will feature the collective talents of artists, performers, craftspeople of Anilao.



This year’s Banaag Festival 
tribal dance competition will open with a street-dancing competition at 6 in the evening followed by the performances of eight competing tribes on October 31 at 8:30 in the evening.

Witness and revel in the profound influence of fire in Anilao’s culture featuring dance and music. Come be part of it!

One can take a van or bus at Tagbak Terminal in Jaro. Anilao is located 40 kilometers northeast of Iloilo City. Comprised of 21 barangays It is bounded in the north by the town of San Enrique; the highest mountain of the town in the west; in the south by Barotac Nuevo; and the Guimaras Strait in the east.

CRY OF JELICUON: A Special Day to Discover New Lucena’s History


You are never far from history when in Iloilo, one of the Philippines’ most historic neighborhoods. However, it is on full display during the celebration of revolutionary festivals that celebrates the rich history of the Ilonggos and features annual reenactments.

The people of New Lucena will celebrate freedom as they reenact through a highly-choreographed drama the First Cry of Revolution that took place 113 years ago in Barrio Hilicuon, New Lucena through the Cry of Jelicuon Festival on October 25, 2011 at 9 a.m.

Considered to be one of the more promising festivals in the province of Iloilo, the Cry of Jelicuon commemorates the historic undertaking of our Ilonggo revolucionarios, led by General Martin Delgado and his company of voluntaries who swore the price of their lives to revolt against the Spanish government.


Spanish rule in the Philippines brought drastic changes in the political, economic and cultural life of Filipinos. With cruelties and injustices brought about by colonizers, series of revolts took place in different parts of the country.

The history of the Philippines under the Spanish regime is rich with local heroes who, against all odds fought to secure freedom and independence.

In Iloilo, unknown to Spanish authorities, a secret group of voluntaries coming from the different towns was preparing to revolt. Tan Martin, popularly known as Martin Teofilo Delgado, a native of Sta. Barbara, was the leader of this Revolutionary Movement.


Months after General Emilio Aguinaldo, leader of the Philippine Revolutionary Movement, declared war against Spain, General Martin Delgado along with his voluntaries headed to Barrio Hilicuon situated at the boundary of the towns of Santa Barbara, Cabatuan and Lucena, where they gathered in an open field and with intense emotion, thundered, “Long live independence!” (Sonza, Philippine Free Press, 1953).

Anually, the Cry of Jelicuon takes a dramatic character and qualities. The spectacle of the re-enactment depicted on an open field through this festival with artistic renderings from local choreographers is celebrated and debated. But one of the functions of this dramatic activity is to capture the spectators' imagination in order to bring to life that historic event. The reenactment, considered spectacle is worthy of theatrical consideration in their own right.

This once little barrio, an arrabal of Sta. Barbara will take you back in time as it commemorates a very momentous event for every Ilonggos. The Cry of Jelicuon is New Lucena’s way of giving recognition and honor to this historic undertaking led people who have shaped the history of this community and our country as a whole by giving up their lives for our independence.

New Lucena is an agricultural town has been producing rice, vegetables, root crops and more. It is approximately 28 km from the city. It boasts a land area of 4, 412 hectares. It is a 45-minuter jeepney ride from Ungka Iloilo Central Line Jeepney terminal in Jaro District of Iloilo City. Jeepneys leave as they fill up the vehicle or it depends on the schedule, usually 15-30 minute intervals for the whole day.

Pavia’s TIGKARALAG Festival: A Time of Celebration and Superstition


Halloween in the Philippines is celebrated with a variety of somber, spooky and fun traditions. The observance is much more popular in rural areas as local beliefs and customs mesh, creating a distinctly Filipino version of Halloween.

It has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. People would share stories of the dead, witchcraft, tell each other's fortunes and mischief-making of all kinds. Ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too.

Halloween is traditionally the time when common superstitions, folklore, myths and omens carry more weight to those who believe. Bad fallacies far outweigh the good, especially around Halloween when myths run rampant. When it comes right down to it, many people still believe that omens can predict our destiny and misfortune such as avoiding to cross paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck or avoiding to break mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt. And as they say, those who follow Halloween superstitions can ward off evil spirits and improve their luck, and they may even gain special abilities or uncover mysteries that pertain to their destinies.


Over time, the celebration of Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child and adult-friendly activities. While relatives tidy the gravesites of their departed family members by snipping weeds, making repairs, and painting the grave decorated with flowers, or wreaths and candles, Halloween parties became popular activities and has been the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties are focused on games, foods and of course, "frightening" and "grotesque" costumes.

It is almost that time again, another Halloween is quickly approaching leaving many searching for ways to get in the spirit of Halloween and make it a fun and memorable event.


The celebration of Halloween in Pavia, Iloilo is not to be missed. Pavianhons are getting ready for a night of trick-or-treating as they celebrate their annual Inter-Barangay Halloween Dance Drama competition through TIGKARALAG Festival, the only one of its kind in the entire province on October 30, 7 p.m. at the municipal plaza.

Tigkaralag from the Hiligaynon root word “kalag” meaning soul is Pavia’s way of celebrating All Soul’s Day. Now on its 20th year, 18 contesting barangays in scary masks and costumes will amuse its visitors with their horror stories and creepy tales interpreted through dance amidst a very large crowd on a chilly evening.

Conceptualized in 1991 by former 2nd District Provincial Board Member, Hon. Cecilia H. Capadosa, Tigkaralag Festival in Pavia has grown to become the most-anticipated Halloween event in this side of Iloilo. With coordinated Halloween characters, costumes, make-up and decorations imaginable. And if you thought the event is just about costumes, think again. Tigkaralag just might surprise you.

Tigkaralag will open at the Pavia public plaza with a Foot Parade of contesting barangays carrying torches and marching towards the area at 6:30 p.m. to be followed by the contest proper where individual, group, Best Arch, Most Horrible and the Most Amusing awards will be given.

Pavia is looking forward to carry on this local tradition. And if you have not witness this event, we hope that you will try and take time out to see this wonderful celebration that the town offers, make life more fun during Halloween. Because isn't that what life is all about?

A prosperous town of dynamic people headed by their ever-supportive municipal mayor, Hon. Arcadio H. Gorriceta, Pavia has come a long way to being the regions’ Agro-Industrial center. Quietly situated north of Iloilo City, this 2,703-hectare town with 18 villages is just 9.6 kilometers or a 30-minute jeepney ride away from the main urban district.

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