Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pasundayag sang mga KAPIYA Kag PASYON sa Semana Santa

photo by Norman Pocession (USA-CAP)

In the Philippines, Semana Santa is celebrated in a very colorful and festive manner. Although it has been customary to many Filipinos to hit the beaches and mountain resorts during Semana Santa, there are still those who enjoy being with the huge crowds at traditional Lenten activities in church or outside of it.

Popular activity during Semana Santa is the Holy Thursday and Good Friday processions. People crowd the plazas during days of procession. Churches draw devotees of the Santo Entiero or the Dead Christ as they make effort to kiss, or wipe the image with their handkerchiefs.

Via Crucis (The Way of the Cross) is another popular but essential part of spiritual exercises during Lent in the Catholic Church. It is a popular devotion used by individuals or groups who through prayer and reflection wish to follow Jesus Christ on his way to Calvary.

Many Christians practice the devotion, but the Via Crucis hold a special significance among Roman Catholic Filipinos. It is one of the most important devotions honoring the passion of Jesus.

In Iloilo, churches represent the Stations of the Cross in their own way. In Tigbauan it is presented in lovely mosaics; in Dingle it is of sandstone bas-relief; others are in oil paintings, stunning plaster dioramas, marble carvings, sculptures and many other beautiful images.

Via Crucis is a devotion consisting of fourteen prayers said before a series of fourteen pictures or carvings representing successive incidents during Jesus' passage from Pilate's house to his crucifixion at Calvary. With regard to the number of Stations it is not at all easy to determine how this came to be fixed at fourteen.

Via Crucis is carried out by passing from one Station to the other, with prayers at every stop. It is very common that the devotion is performed publicly, while some even sing a stanza of the "Stabat Mater" while passing from one Station to the next.

The municipality of Cabatuan, a peaceful and clean town in central Iloilo and is 24.2 kilometers away from the city is preparing for their famous Via Crucis by way of their annual Kapiya contest and Pasyon singing on Good Friday. You do not need to climb up mountains or walk through long distances in order to see these Lenten traditions.

The Kapiya display is an annual competition of beautifully depicted series of sculptures made of indigenous materials popular in the area. The characters are life-sized and are even well-lighted during the evening.

Another popular attraction of Cabatuan during Semana Santa is the singing of the account of the Sacred Passion of Christ, locally known as Pasyon. This is a practice of continued singing, originally taking 18-20 hours 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.

It is in the Kapiyas where the afternoon Via Crucis stops for meditation. Men, women and children in barong tagalog and baro't saya sing the pasyon in the kapiyas that normally start at dusk. The pasyon is chanted for two hours by choirs composed of 15 to 40 members.

The singing of the Pasyon and the Kapiya is one of the most beautiful religious innovations in the country. It is truly a unique experience for a tourist to witness our way of celebrating Holy Week.

TALTAL in Barotac Viejo: Embracing the Lenten Season for 37 Years

photo by Norman Posecion (USA-CAP)

Semana Santa is known as the most sacred week of the Christian liturgical year. For many Filipinos, the celebration of Semana Santa can be described as the day to day activity of passing our Catholic faith on to others and observing Lenten habits, customs, and practices of Catholic life.

However, there are towns that celebrate Seaman Santa parades, costumes, dancing, and music that focus on local and cultural history such as the Palm Sunday parade. Catholic Churches are also open for everyone who wants to have a special time of prayer or meditation. Catholics pray the Stations of the Cross. Some observe the foot washing service every Maundy Thursday and the communion in the evening of the same day.

In the province of Iloilo, Taltal is a very important Lenten event and is religiously celebrated by the people of Barotac Viejo. A vow made in 1975 has drawn in many visitors to this town every year to witness the story of Christ's passion. Other than the annual celebration of Patubas Festival, Taltal is a long-standing tradition of the town and is distinct and unique in Iloilo Province.

As a form of art, the Passion has been set to music, used as a drama and as a painting subject.
Popularly, the Passion of Christ begins with the arrest of Jesus Christ, trial and suffering and ends with his execution by crucifixion. Other versions however begin with the events in the Garden of Gethsemane. Some also include the Last Supper, and others begin as early as Palm Sunday when Jesus entered Jerusalem. The Passion is a story about injustice, doubt, fear, pain and, ultimately, degrading death. It tells how God experienced these things in the same way as ordinary human beings.

This year marks the 37th production of Taltal where many are expected to attend the whole day presentation on April 6. Since its first staging, Barotacnons has pledge to perform the story of Christ’s Passion every year. No professional actors are hired for the play, which is performed only by those who were born in Barotac Viejo. The play's cast is drawn from all walks of life from within the municipality. Almost a hundred people participate in the production. The play starts in the covered municipal gymnasium and is open for everyone to see. The play is performed in Hiligaynon. The staging of Taltal helps them deepen their self-awareness as Catholics and at the same time gaining more freedom of self-expression.

The local government unit of Barotac Viejo headed by Hon. Niel C. Tupas III and the local parish in the area is inviting everyone to join them as they embrace Semana Santa through Taltal and explore the beauty of the area.

Just 52 kilometers northeast from Iloilo City is Barotac Viejo. It is bounded on the northwest by the Municipality of San Rafael, on the south by the Municipality of Banate and the Visayan Sea, on the east by the Municipality of Lemery and the Province of Capiz and on the west by the Municipality of Passi and San Enrique.

On a day trip, the most popular point of interest when in Barotac Viejo is Sitio Nagpana in Barangay Lipata. It is home to a small Aeta community where the local craftspeople demonstrate their skills in making purses, bags, placemats, bangles, rings made of Nito. Nearby attractions include the Nagpana Falls.

To get to Barotac Viejo, one can take a jeepney or van at Tagbak terminal in jaro, Iloilo City. For more information, please contact Hon. Merelyn P. Valdez, SB Member on Tourism or Miss Lory Ann Dumdum, Municipal Tourism Officer at (033)3620160 or 3620312.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Iloilo Province Gears Up for the 111th Semana Sang Iloilo Celebration

The month of April is where summer in Iloilo is all in its glory. Iloilo offers many marvelous seascapes with beautiful beaches to boast mostly found in the northern and southern areas of the province. April also starts the hosting of various municipal festivals and other tourism-related events.

Bayluhay Festival of San Joaquin performs at the Semana Sang Iloilo Pasundayag Sang Mga Tribu, photo by Joe de Luna

The month would not start out right without the annual celebration of Semana Sang Iloilo, a spectacle for both Ilonggos and out-of-towners, this event is truly one to enjoy.

Kasag Festival of the Municipality of Banate performs during the Pasundayag Sang Mga Tribu for Semana Sang Iloilo, photo by Jose de Luna

The Province of Iloilo, headed by Hon. Arthur D. Defensor, Sr. Governor, its leaders, elders and residents is inviting everyone to the 111th Semana Sang Iloilo celebration this summer on the grounds of the Provincial Capitol in Bonifacio Drive, Iloilo City. The event will take place on April 10-13, 2012.

Binanog Festival of the Municipality of Lambunao performs for the Pasundayag Sang Mga Tribu during Semana Sang Iloilo, photo by Jose de Luna

This year’s theme, “Dalayawon Nga Binuhatan, Aton Pasidunggan kag Pasalamatan,” was chosen by the planning committees that were organized to guide the planning and implementation of the Anniversary Celebration along with its various programs of activities. The different committees, a small group of select office representatives initiated the planning process and outlined the vision for the Semana Sang Iloilo’s 111th celebration and are working together to realize the event’s vision and effectively plan and promote this year’s program. In addition, there are specialized working groups formed to focus their energies and accomplish a specific set of celebration goals.

The event will open on April 10, 2012 with a Bougainvillea Parade organized by the Provincial Agriculture’s Office through the Federation of Iloilo Horticultural Association Incorporated from Jaro Plaza to the Provincial Capitol grounds at 7 a.m.; Mass at the capitol lobby at 8 a.m.; the simultaneous opening of the Garden Show, Agricultural Exhibit and OTOP Fair at the carpark and canopy areas; Art and Photo Exhibit at the Old Provincial Capitol along with Sining Pambansa Art exhibition will be open to the public at 2 p.m.; and the Inter-Municipal Folk Dance Competition at 4 p.m., Provincial Capitol lobby.

April 11 opens with a Jobs Fair by the Public Employment Services Office at the Provincial Capitol lobby from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m.; Mangrove Planting in Barangay Nabitasan in Leganes at 7 a.m.; the day will commence with the Inter-Municipal Brass Band Competition at the Provincial Capitol car park area at 4 p.m.

April 12 is Employees Day with various activities for Iloilo Provincial Capitol employees and their families from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m.

April 13 will recognize Ilonggo achievers during the Thanksgiving Luncheon and Awarding Ceremony at the Provincial Capitol lobby from 11 a.m. till 1:30 p.m.; the Agri-Achievers Awarding Ceremony follows at 2 -5 p.m., 5th floor of the Provincial Capitol; and the Pasundayag, a parade of municipal festivals caps the celebration with performances at the Capitol car park at 2:30 in the afternoon.

There will always be something going on for everyone for the annual Semana Sang Iloilo celebration. Each and every year, the provincial government and the support of the Ilonggo community will bring various activities and events to the capitol car park.

Governor Arthur D. Defensor, Sr. with the Sanngguniang Members and the employees of the Iloilo Provincial Government are encouraging people from all over Iloilo to come, enjoy and celebrate with them.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mountain Getaway around Iloilo

rice terraces, Leon, Iloilo, photo by Ramon Ramirez

Iloilo does not only boast of its rich historical heritage, it also takes pride of its lush mountains, white-sand beaches, and thick virgin forests. There are places in the province of Iloilo that showcase the beauty and grandeur of nature. And because of these, the province has become a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts as much of the land is available for many types of activities.

This summer is an exceptional escape that will have you hooked on its rarely explored wilderness. Most people love the natural beauty and fresh air that outdoor spaces and destinations offer. The province of Iloilo is blessed with an abundance of these places and luckily many are very accessible.

So if you are a nature and wildlife fan or just fed up with cities and beaches here are some of the best natural outdoor vacations in Iloilo Province.

Over the central part of Iloilo province are pieces of land filled with natural wonders, such as caves, waterfalls, forests and mystical hills and mountains. Take a break from the sweltering heat of summer. Try something new for a change. Take a tour and experience all the wonderful attractions on the way. It is a once in a lifetime experience.

photo by Ramon Ramirez
If you are looking for a fun family weekend destination, head over to Leon. It is an old town that is full of fun located approximately 28.2 kilometers from the city. It is known to be one of Iloilo’s most scenic and adventurous summer cool spot. With its cool temperature, Bucari attracts the summer folks to its mountainous terrain for some quality site-seeing during the typical summer months. Leon has a plethora of activities including trekking, bike touring, rock climbing, cave exploration and swimming to its falls. These activities are at your disposal when visiting Leon. Not only do the verdant mountains lure the tourists in, but also embedded in this cozy town is an inland resort where you can pay a room for an overnight stay at the newly-opened PINERIDGE in Barangay Bacolod. This is not your typical campground. Pineridge provides rooms at reasonable prices. The site is shaded with beautiful trees, and a slight breeze to cool off the day. Experience the beautiful outdoors that Bucari in Leon offers. This authentic, natural vacation will have you enjoying life away from the cell phone ringers. If exploring is in your itinerary, embark on Leon, a relaxing jeepney or air-conditioned van ride from the terminal in Jaro market, Iloilo City. For more information, please contact Mr. Nonel Gemora at 09082276719.

photo by Ramon Ramirez

Looking for some adventure, drive 37 kilometers down the road going to Dingle and you will find the Bulabog Puti-an National Park in Barangay Moroboro. You will have fun pretending to be in the jungles of the Amazon on a real adventure. Bulabog Puti-an National Park is a great spot to develop a genuine understanding for the great outdoors and to visit a national landmark. Excluding the island-province of Guimaras, Bulabog Puti-an is the only limestone rock formation in Panay. It was designated as a National Park through Congressional Bill No. 1651, and such is considered a "nationally significant area." It has a land area of 834.033 hectares covering five of Dingle’s 33 barangays. It offers superb hiking where one can marvel to some of its unique caves. The park contains 13 known caves (Lungib, Hapu-Hapo, Ma-arhong, Guiso, Mistranza, Linganero, Lapus-Lapus, Ticondal, Butac, Tuco, San Roque, Pitong Liko and Nautod). Each cave is unique with a mixture of different shapes and sizes of passage. Some are tight and narrow, while others can be very low and wide. Most of these caves are undeveloped, so there are no lights, stairs, nor walkways. Hike up and go cave exploration while enjoying the gorgeous view of the park over its wild and luscious forests. Whatever your interest may be, this subtle yet relaxing getaway will help you appreciate the fresh air in the summer months without the exhausting heat. For more information, please contact Mr. Dane Dizon, the municipal tourism officer at 09477424341To get to Dingle, take a jeepney or van at Tagbak Terminal in Jaro, Iloilo City.

photo by Vincent Angelo Gefes
Breathtaking mountain views, hiking trails that will take your through spell binding scenery and an inland resort await you at MARIA PAZ HILLSIDE RESORT in Alimodian along corner T. Algallar Street, poblacion area. It offers 5 big rooms perfect for a group of 10 and more at a very reasonable rate. It has a pool to cater to children and adults alike. It is perfect for everyone seeking a relaxing time full of fun and adventure in the area. Be it a romantic getaway, a family vacation or a group trip, Alimodian will offer you something that will make your vacation an unforgettable one. For more information, please contact Dr. Marylou Alipao at 09088741929 or Miss Marysol Amarillo, the officer-in-charge, municipal tourism office at 09205674507 or visit their website, Alimodian is 24.6 kilometers away from the city. It is home to historical and natural attractions such as the St. Thomas of Villanueva Parish, Tinagong Danao, Agua Colonia,Umingan Plateau, Ibagat Spring, Maslog Falls, Bato Dungok, and Oyang Cave. To get there, one can take a jeepney or van at the terminal in Jaro market, Iloilo City.

Stunning Igbaras is another popular vacation area in Iloilo. Explore trails that will take you through magnificent waterfalls and striking sceneries. Spice up your trip by indulging in various activities such as hiking, rappelling, cave exploration and swimming in the falls. Enjoy your stay in LOUVELLE LOUNGE at the poblacion area. Your Igbaras vacation will surely be remembered for a lifetime. Igbaras is 40 kilometers away from the city. It is home to nature’s wonders such as Mt. Napulak, Nadsadjan Falls, Guiritsan Falls, Igcabugao Cave, Passi Cave and rafflesia Gardens in Barangay Igcabugao. The town also prides itself with the annual celebration of the Tangyan Festival every May. For more information, please contact Engr. Wilfredo “Boy” Delgado, municipal tourism officer at 09173080855.

Whether you are a family vacationer or a city slicker seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, Iloilo is perfect for all. Enjoy the beaches in the southern and northern portion of the province. The central part of the province keeps you exploring enchanting trails taking you through diverse landscape.

So this summer, it is time to head out to these offbeat destinations and discover the undiscovered.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Pintados de Pasi Festival: Celebrating Passi City’s Ancient Culture

photo by Ray Tabafunda

Every March, many Ilonggos and guests gather at Passi City in order to watch the famous Pintados de Pasi Festival. Begun fourteen years ago, the celebration has gone from strength to strength over the years. Many of the people who gather to view the event up close and personal are not just locals, but have journeyed from every corner of the region in order to see it.

This year, Pintados de Pasi Festival takes place from the 14th till the 18th of March, a time where Passi City becomes home to one of the provinces’ biggest festival and at times almost doubles its normal population.

The origins of Pintados de Pasi date back to 1999 when the celebration opened its doors for the first time. The tribal dance competition, Karosa Parada and Carabao Painting Contest and Binibining Pintados were the original core of activities. The city in partnership with the Passinhon 2000 Incorporated aims to promote and encourage arts of the highest possible standard. The festival has grown steadily over the years and 2005 proved to be its grandest year when it won Grand Prize in the annual Aliwan Festival celebration in Manila.

Known to be an ancient and spiritually respected art form, tattooing existed in many different cultures all over the world. It is an integral part of their culture. While other countries consider tattooing as a newly adopted art, Philippine history would tell us that in some parts of the country, specifically in the Visayas, the art of tattooing has been in fashion for thousands of years. Early accounts of Visayan tattooing date back from 1590 and 1608 by Spanish explorers. It became a form of clothing. Certain designs recognized manhood and personal accomplishments as well as attractiveness, fertility, and continuity of the family or village.

photo by Ray Tabafunda

It was said that most Visayan men would receive their first tattoos as a lower body suit from the ankles to the hips. Facial tattoos occurred on the bravest warriors with names that denoted particular honor. A man also needs to perform some brave deed or conduct himself with fitting courage in battle to earn his first tattoos. As he continued to conduct himself admirably he would earn more and more tattoos.

photo by Ray Tabafunda

The early Visayans also wear tattoos not only to embellish their physical appearance, but that each symbol or pattern had a deep meaning that imbued its wearer with specific powers or energies to protect themselves and in that process creates a lasting and sacred connection between the bearer themselves and his or her community; or with his or her fellows; and with his relationship with nature or the Divine, during the different stages of his or her life journey.

In celebration of its 14th Foundation Anniversary with the theme, “Kulturang Passinhon: Balikdon kag Palanggaon,” the city of Passi, with the leadership of their very dynamic city mayor, Hon. Jesry Palmares invites everyone to come and witness the different activities of the festival that will kick off on March 14 (Wednesday) with a Mass, Pasundayag or Parade, Hinampang, the Opening of the Food Festival and Handuraw or Passinhon’s Golden Memories of Yesteryears; March 15 (Thursday) opens with Pinta Lawas or Body Painting Contest; DUMOG 2012, the 1st Passi City Grappling Tournament and Ginoong Pintados; March 16 (Friday) welcomes everyone with the Karosa parade and Carabao Painting Contest and the Grand Coronation Night of the the Binibining Pintados 2012; March 17 (Saturday) is set for the Exhibition of Exotic Pets and A Night of Mascots and Magicians with Ala Kim; March 18 (Sunday) highlights with a Mass, the Tribe Competition, Awarding Ceremony, Fireworks Display and a Night with the Stars.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

KANAWAY Festival: The Best of Northern Iloilo, All in One Place!

Iloilo is the center of festivals in the region. Every next month there will be festival somewhere across the province.

Although modernity has eroded much of the uniqueness of our culture, many towns in Iloilo commemorate their significant past by way of celebrating their traditional festivals annually as a manifestation of their ethnicity and cultural unity with the special objective to demonstrate and experience a particular identity.

These traditional festivals have been continued among the Ilonggos throughout its long history. They are mostly based on history, religion and livelihood.

Iloilo is an agrarian and aquatic society with most of Ilonggo population depending on agriculture and fisheries for their living. So, it is not surprising that Iloilo celebrates a number of festivals in various towns that depict the livelihood of their community and are celebrated with pomp and show.

Kanaway Festival is a new event in Iloilo Province that celebrates the beauty and spirit of the people in the northern area. KANAWAY is a Hiligaynon term that refers to the northwest trade wind. The festival is a convergence of the various festivals in the 5th district of the province, namely: Tambobo Festival of Ajuy, Panulo Festival of Batad, Patubas Festival of Barotac Viejo, Tampisaw Festival of Concepcion, Panagat Festival of Estancia, Saug Festival of Lemery, Panaad Festival of San Dionisio and Sulay-Basya Festival of Sara.

Kanaway is also a time for communal thanksgiving, being grateful to God for such bounties from their seas; and for the golden harvest from their fields. The celebration depicts the way of living of each of the towns giving importance and value to their Patron Saints.

The celebration of local festivals has been alive for many of years. The customs we see in the different towns today remind us of ancient celebrations of thankfulness for prosperity and peace, and the endeavors of our forefathers. It consists of stories of those who believe that gratitude for blessings is a virtue all must possess.

Be a part of the festival of festivals through Kanaway to promote what is good about northern Iloilo. Festival representatives from the northern towns will showcase their Ilonggo traditions through dance and music. Surely, everyone will learn a little about themselves in our Ilonggo heritage and help keep our beloved traditions alive.

With this year’s theme, “Kultura Sang Quinto: Matahum Handurawon, Itib-ong Naton,” the municipal mayors and the Northern Iloilo Center for Culture and Arts of the 5th District of the province of Iloilo invites everyone to its 3rd Kanaway Festival on March 1-4, 2012 with its highlight, the tribal dance competition featuring the different festivals of this district at 1 p.m. at the Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College, Victorino Salcedo Campus, Estancia.

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