Friday, January 31, 2014

Salakayan of Miagao: A Festival to Remember

The municipality of Miagao will be transformed into a sea of colors to mark the 16th Salakayan Festival alongside its 298th Foundation Anniversary this year on January 31st till the 9th of February. The carnival atmosphere will envelope the entire town as residents will proudly celebrate their town's history.

The 10-day celebration will immerse visitor to its rich local culture with special that are beautiful expression of Miagao’s unique character. Music, dancing, plenty of food and drinking, fireworks and daily cultural presentations are the norm during Salakayan. The event will opens on January 31 (Friday) with the Night with the Stars at the JRBB Hall, 7:30 p.m.; February 1 (Saturday) is the Pamukaw around the poblacion at 4 a.m., Thanksgiving Mass at 8:30 a.m., Opening Salvo, Higantes Parade, Raising of Barangay Banners, Nono Palmos Hablon Fashion Exhibit and the Opening of Food Fair at 2 p.m. and ends the day with the Search for Mr. and Miss Salakayan 2014 at 7 p.m. at the JRBB Hall; February 2 (Sunday) at 6 a.m. is Biking and the Vendors Night at the municipal plaza at 7 p.m.; February 3 (Monday) the Opening of Agro Trade Exhibit at 9 a.m., Sto. Tomas Street, the Aquaphonics Seminar at the Sulu Garden at 3 p.m. and the SIPC Alumni Night at 7 p.m. at the Miagao town plaza; February 4 (Tuesday) LIGA Day, Dep Ed Day at 2 p.m., Liga Fund Raising Activity and the LIGA Night at 7 p.m., February 5 (Wednesday) Business Forum at 8:30 a.m. at the JRBB Hall, Basketball Games at 4 p.m., Balikbayan Night at 6 p.m.; February 6 (Thursday) Beach Events, Games and Feriahan at 8 a.m. in Babay Norte, Motor Show at 8:30 a.m., Battle of the Sounds at Baybay Norte, 8:30 a.m., Alumni Night (MCES) at 7 p.m. at the Miagao town plaza; February 7 (Friday) Mass, Blessing of Boats and Fluvial Parade at 8 a.m. in Baybay Norte; Cultural Show and Miagao Fashion Show at JRBB Hall at 6 p.m.; February 8 (Saturday) is the much-anticipated Salakayan Tribe Contest at 8 a.m., Float parade at 3 p.m., Ribbon cutting Hablon Fashion Exhibit of Nono Palmos and the Tribes Night at 7 p.m.; February 9 (Sunday) Mass and Agape at 7:30 a.m. at the JRBB Hall, Motorcross at 8 a.m. at the BLISS-Kirayan Tacas, Car Show at 2p.m. at the Municipal Building Ground and the Coronation of the Queen of Miagao 2014 at the Miagao town plaza at 8 p.m.

Salakayan, from the Hiligaynon word “Salakay” or “to attack” is an annual commemoration interpreted through contested dance-drama performances depicting the historic battle that took place in this town where Miagaowanons successfully defended their place from the rampant attacks of Muslim pirates sometime in May 7, 1754.

Coastal settlements in the islands of Panay became the objects of frequent Moro raids. Many towns in the north and south of Iloilo became easy targets and Miagao was not spared from these raids that resulted to the burning of the original structure of St. Thomas of Villanova church situated at that time in Sitio Ubos.

The people of Miagao celebrate that historical moment, a celebration of Miagaowanons’ freedom. It stands as an expression of a communal spirit and the joy of a Miagaowanon soul. It represents the dreams, cultures, celebration of the way of life and people of Miagao.

The history of the Salakayan Festival began with modest gatherings in the streets around the town center. And throughout the week-long celebration, series of special events to mark Salakayan became potent festival symbols.

The iconic Higantes parade is a popular tradition during the festival is a tradition started in 1999 and continues to this day and was enriched over time. People come to see several giants with its main feature of papier maché heads and bodies covered in yards of colorful textiles. The Higantes are crowd-drawers during the tribal dance competition.

Miagao is 40.5 kilometers south from Iloilo City. Politically subdivided into 199 barangays over a land area of 13,286 hectares, Miagao is bordered by the towns of Igbaras to its northeast; Guimbal to its east, San Joaquin to its west; and the municipality of Sibalom, Antique Province to its northwest. To get there, one can take a jeepney at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary Terminal in Barangay Mohon, Oton, Iloilo. Metered taxis are also available at the terminal.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Falls, Forest and Trail Adventure in San Enrique

2nd year tourism students from University of San Agustin enjoy the view of Binul-ugan Falls, San Enrique, Iloilo, photo by Bombette G. Marin

One of the best adventure tourism destinations in the 4th District of the province of Iloilo, the municipality of San Enrique is nestled in the rolling hills of the northern central mountain ranges and behind the long stalks of sugar cane, expanses of bamboo, terraced rice paddies and giant, century-old trees. San Enrique offers a great combination of cultural expedition and trekking that allows guests to know these remote hospitable villages.

The trek begins with a 19-kilometer wonderful scenic drive from the poblacion to the remote barangay of San Antonio. The real fun begins to the trailhead through a bumpy but short off-road drive to an old cane road.

The trek to the Binul-ugan Falls is challenging and is fully supported every step of the way by local guides. Halfway to the falls lead visitors to series of swimming holes that graces the trails where guests can frolic to their hearts’ content. These waters from the falls continue to shape a dramatic landscape of valleys, streams and cliffs.  These holes add to the uniqueness of the exhilarating journey.

After a 45-minuter moderate to hard trek, the hike continues on to the waterfall where Mother Nature has crafted three awe-inspiring pools, etched out of limestone, for your enjoyment. Visitors will enjoy a picnic lunch, swimming to its 5-feet deep pool and a relaxing hydro-massage with stunning mountain panoramas, green valleys and pasturelands, and of course the abundant water.

After trekking and swimming all day, you will find salvation drinking San Enrique’s special native coffee. The trek from the falls gives visitors the unique opportunity to visit Sitio Pangalapan of Barangay San Antonio and introduce you to all the inner workings in their coffee plantation. The sitio is home to thousands of coffee trees, each of which produces some of the finest Arabic and robusta coffee beans in Iloilo. The coffee is grown in rich soil, touched by abundant mountain rain.

During your visit, the guide will explain the complete process from the berry's on the tree until the specialty coffee's you will taste the traditional way. The experience is absolutely unique as the guide will share with you the secrets of how to make a good cup of native coffee.

San Enrique is 54 kilometers away from the city via Passi City route. Situated in the northern central part of the province, it is bounded in the north by the component city of Passi; the town of Dingle in the south; the coastal towns of Banate and Barotac Viejo in the east; and the town of Dueńas in the west. It is subdivided into 28 barangays in a land area of 10, 809.63 hectares. For an unforgettable adventure, immerse yourself in San Enrique; a place of old sugar plantations with extraordinary natural beauty. For more information, please contact, Mr. Marcelino M. Palomaria - Municipal Tourism Officer at 09076979945.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hirinugyaw-Suguidanonay: A Vehicle for Cultural Reawakening

The Suguidanon segment performing a chapter from Hinilawod, photo by Vincent Angelo Gefes

The municipality of Calinog comes alive with colorful costumes, ethnic dances, chants and tribal music for the 26th Hirinugyaw and 9th Suguidanonay Festivals on January 24 to February 2. Experience the true spirit of Calinog and meet its people. Connect with their authentic Indigenous culture by learning and sharing in the heart and soul of its Hirinugyaw-Suguidanonay Festival.

photo by Vincent Angelo Gefes

With the theme: “Hirinugyaw Suguidanonay, Ban-awan Sang Pagbangon kag Himpit nga Pagtuo kay Señor Sto. Niño,” the 10-day celebration will open on January 24 (Friday) with an Opening Salvo at 4 p.m., a Torch Procession and Lighted Sto. Niño Contests at 6 p.m., the Presentation and Talent’s Night of Hamtong nga Lin-ay kag Ulitao and Linghuron nga Lin-ay Kag Ulitao at 8 p.m.; January 25 (Saturday) Novena Mass at 5:30 a.m.; January 27 (Monday) Cultural Presentation of WVSU CC at 7:30 p.m.; January 28 (Tuesday) Cultural Presentation District I at 7:30 p.m.; January (Wednesday) Dayaw sa Calinog at 8 a.m., Cultural Presentation District II at 7:30 p.m.; January 30 (Thursday) Adlaw Sang Panguma at 8 a.m., the Coronation Night of Linghuron nga Lin-ay kag Ulitao kang Hirinugyaw-Suguidanonay Festival 2014 at 7:30 p.m.; January 31    (Friday) the Coronation Night of Hamtong nga Lin-ay kag Ulitao Kang Hirinugyaw-Suguidanonay Festival 2014 at 7:30 p.m.; February 1 (Saturday) Agape (Pa-ambitanay) Linabugan Festival (Bandstand/Food Fest) at 12 noon, the Festival of Mini Sounds around the Public Market at 1 p.m.; February 2      (Sunday) Hirinugyaw-Suguidanonay Tribal Dance Competition at 9:00 a.m., Festival of Sounds and Street Dancing at the municipal plaza at 1 p.m. and Live Band/  Announcement of Winners at 8 p.m.
Hirinugyaw (Jubilation) highlights the inter-tribal dance competition of performers in colorful tribal costumes, painted faces and thunderous drumbeats.  With shouts of "Viva Señor Santo Niño," Hirinugyaw pays homage to the Santo Niño or the Holy Child Jesus.

one of the mythical characters in the epic Hinilawod featured in the Suguidanon,
photo by Vincent Angelo Gefes

The Suguidanon (Storytelling) dramatizes the culture of the mountain people of Central Panay known as the Sulod, an indigenous group inhabiting the interior areas of Iloilo, Capiz and Antique Provinces. Their dialect is a combination of Kiniray-a and Hiligaynon.

photo by Vincent Angelo Gefes

The presentation is based on the literary masterpiece Hinilawod (Tales from the Mouth of the Halawod River). Documented and translated by renowned Filipino anthropologist, Felipe Landa Jocano, a native of Cabatuan, Iloilo, it is known to be the Second Longest Verse –Epic in the World with 28,000 verses and when performed in its original form would takes about three days.  It recounts about the exploits of enchanted folk heroes, the three demigods, Labaw Donggon, Humadapnon and Dumalapdap, their tales of love and adventures.

photo by Vincent Angelo Gefes

The local government incorporated the Suguidanon for the coming generations of Ilonggos to appreciate through this visual legacy the lives of our Sulod brothers, their adventures and conversations weaving an intimate and profound portrait of a culture whose survival, history and worldview is intertwined with the land, the spirit world, the plants and animals.

The agro-industrial municipality of Calinog is 59.3 kilometers away from Iloilo City. It is in the central portion of Iloilo and is comprised of 59 barangays over a land area of 23,280 hectares. It is bounded in the north by the municipality of Tapaz, Capiz; northeast by the municipality of Bingawan, Iloilo; northeast by the municipality of San Remegio, Antique; south by the town of Lambunao, Iloilo; southeast by the municipality of Dueńas, Iloilo and; southwest by the town of Valderama, Antique. To get to the town, one can take a non-air-conditioned bus at the terminal beside Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines plant in Ungka, Pavia.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

KASADYAHAN: Celebrating Cultural Diversity in Western Visayas

KAING Festival, Leon, Iloilo, photo by Ray Tabafunda

Twelve (12) non-contesting participating tribes from different provinces and cities in the region will showcase their local festivals in this year Kasadyahan scheduled on January 25. The four assigned judging areas in carousel type at the Freedom Grandstand, Maria Clara Street, Quezon-Ledesma Streets and at the Provincial Capitol will highlight the following tribes: (1) Tribu Banigan of the municipality of Libertad, Province of Antique, (2) Saad Festival of the municipality of Leganes, Iloilo, (3) Manggahan Festival of Guimaras Province, (4) Tribu Hugyaw Kansilay of Silay City, Negros Occidental, (5) Tribu Pan-ay of Fort San Pedro National High School, Iloilo City, (6) Sinadya Sa Halaran of Roxas City, Capiz, (7) Tribu Hugyaw of St. Therese MTC-Colleges, Iloilo City, (8) Tribu Lacsonian of John B. Lacson Maritime University, Iloilo City, (9) Kalibo Sto. Nino Ai-Atihan Festival of the Province of Aklan, (10) Bacolod Masscara Festival of Bacolod City, (11) Tribu Kaing of the municipality of Leon, Iloilo and (12) Tribu Busilak-San Carlos Pinta Flores Festival of Negros Occidental.

SINADYA SA HALARAN Festival, Roxas City, Capiz, photo courtesy of DOT-VI

The city of Iloilo brings threads of regional culture together in one place during the annual Kasadyahan Festival, held every 4th Saturday of January. It is also a spectacular festival packed with a variety of dance presentations that draws visitors from all over the world. This festival celebrates the indigenous culture of Western Visayas with handicrafts and performers.

Western Visayas is the festival region of the country. Throughout the whole region, colorful and vibrant festivals range through musical, religious, cultural and harvest to name just a few. These festivals have been successful in attracting domestic and foreign visitors in great numbers, and recently have encouraged the Regional Office of the Department of Tourism to preserve and prosper these regional festivals. The celebration of these festivals will surely improve the overall image of the Western Visayas and show the acceptance of cultural diversity. It will keep alive the older traditions and provide entertainment to the people.

Tribu Hugyaw of St. Therese MTC-Colleges, Iloilo City,
photo by Ray Tabafunda

With colorful parades combining traditional music and dance, Kasadyahan Festival immerses spectators in local culture in a way no museum can. The sound of folk music and the beat of the drums usher everyone to dance in the streets. And every year brings a new cultural group, from local universities to neighboring provincial festivals.

KALIBO ATI-ATIHAN Festival, photo courtesy of DOT -VI
Music, parades, dressing up, beauty contests, dancing in the streets, drinking, feasting, fire crackers - Filipinos love a good party and there is nothing like a festival to generate the right mood. 

For Filipinos, festivals are great opportunities to join in and have fun. Towns and cities all have their own festival days, usually a local saint's day, an important historical event or highlighting the main product or industry in the area. 

Festivals hold a favored place in the Filipino culture. Some are celebrated throughout the country. Others are regional, municipal or city specific.

Friday, January 3, 2014

San Joaquin Comes Alive Again for Pasungay

photo by Ray Tabafunda

Once again the historic town of San Joaquin will come alive for the annual fighting of the bulls and horses celebration. The San Joaquin Sports Stadium has long since been the focal point for this town’s annual celebrations such as the Pasungay (bull fight) or Pahibag sang Kabayo (horse fight). In order to keep alive the traditions of the past, the local government has reintroduced this time-honored celebration which is unique to San Joaquin. The annual Pasungay and Pahibag sang Kabayo will be celebrated this year on January 18 (Saturday) at 9 a.m.

photo by Ray Tabafunda

Pasungay in San Joaquin is filled with tradition. It has existed for hundreds of years when Spanish culture was introduced. Its display has been entertaining people for many years.

Traditionally, the bouts occurred at the end of every harvest, or to celebrate a marriage, or the arrival of an important guest to the village or town. People attend bullfights for the color and excitement. The bulls would then fight until one was wounded by the other. The fight was usually followed by a feast and drinking sprees.

photo by Ray Tabafunda

Bull fighting is practiced till this day in San Joaquin. Huge crowds gather to watch such event. There are bulls raised exclusively for this purpose with a special type of diet and special training. They are known to have remarkable agility, quickness and balance, which make them perfect for mounted bullfighting.

photo by Ray Tabafunda

Horse fighting is also a spectacle in this town. It is the pitting of two horses in a combat fight. Horses are not normally aggressive towards each other however prior to a horse fight a young mare will be introduced to the arena to stir up sexual rivalry between the two males. In a typical horse fight, two horses are pitted against each other until one wins through injuring the other. Just like the Pasungay, spectators also place wagers on the outcome of a fight.

In San Joaquin, bull and horse fights provide entertainment and harmless fun. Undue excitement and a sense of expectation grip the audience on this occasion. Many San Joaquinhons breed prized bulls that they present during these contests. It is a matter of an animal-to-animal fight. The bulls and horses are nourished both physically and psychologically in preparation for the contests.

photo by Ray Tabafunda
While animal rights advocates hold that it is inhumane, a blood sport resulting in the suffering of bulls and horses, supporters of bullfighting however believe that it is a culturally important tradition. It is an ancient culture which must be preserved for the future generation.

The municipality of San Joaquin is the last municipality in the southern district of the Province of Iloilo. To get there, one can take a jeepney at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary Terminal in Barangay Mohon, Oton, Iloilo or at the market terminal along Mabini St. in Iloilo City. For more information, please contact Mrs. Erlyn Alunan – Municipal Tourism Officer at 09179857804.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

SAAD Festival: A Decade of Celebrating Leganes Culture and Faith

In Iloilo, there is always a special reason for people to go out into the street, singing and dancing. The peaceful town of Leganes is no exception. Religion is a great influence in the festive celebration of Saad. It is an excellent opportunity to get in touch with the culture and traditions of the Leganesnons. Saad Festival is annually celebrated with special care and great pomp.

The Feast Day of San Vicente Ferrer is one of the most important religious festivals Iloilo. San Vicente Ferrer, a Dominican missionary, known to be the messenger of penance sent to prepare men for the judgment was born at Valencia, Spain in January 23, 1350, is the patron saint of Leganes and the town’s Roman Catholic Church built in constructed in 1872 and then renovated in 1996 using the old bricks is dedicated to him.

This Neo-classic church also holds the palapak or the treading of the saint’s statue normally to one’s head. Thousands of pilgrims visit the shrine in the belief that the pilgrimage could bring about healing. Believers show much loyalty to the saint through this customary religious practice. Follow the thousands of people who participate in this traditional pilgrimage every year.

Starting this year, every 23rd day of January then on, the “Mecca of Western Visayas,” the peaceful town of Leganes will celebrate a religious and cultural tradition, to commemorate the birthdate of this town’s religious icon. It is common during this festivity to see lots of people following the procession and the much anticipated cultural dance competition.

Besides the faith that overflows Saad Festival, the town will also host series of special events. The 10th year celebration will kick off with its pre-festival activities starting on January 6 (Monday) with the LGU Sportsfest; January 6-30 Cultural Heritage Tour students in the Secondary and Tertiary levels; January 11 (Saturday) Band Concert; January 17 (Friday) Opening Salvo, Agro-Industrial Fair, Photo Exhibit, Food Festival at 2 p.m., Talent Competition for Miss Leganes Saad Festival a 6 p.m.; January 18 (Saturday) Mangrove Clean-up and Planting at 8 a.m., LIGA Barangay Night at 7 p.m.; January 20 (Monday) Mga Sinadto nga Hinampang at 8 a.m., Drum and Lyre Corps Competition at 2 p.m., Coronation Night of Miss Leganes Saad 2014 at 7 p.m.; January 21 (Tuesday) Career Coaching Symposium and Launching of NSRS Jobs Fair at 8 a.m., Band Concert at 7 p.m.; January 22 (Wednesday) Saad Sinadsad Dance Parade at 2 p.m., Solid Waste Management Night at 7 p.m.; January 23 (Thursday) Eucharistic Celebration at 4 p.m., Cultural Parade at 5 p.m., Saad Cultural Dance Competition at 6 p.m., Awarding and Fireworks Display at 8 p.m.

Saad Festival is a journey that started being encouraged for religious reasons, but for the last nine years, the festivity comprises a much wider spectrum. Come and visit Leganes. Saad festival will show you the best in Leganesnon tradition.

The municipality of Leganes is 10.9 kilometers away from the city. To get there, one can take a jeepney at Jaro Plaza, Iloilo City. For more information, please call the Municipal Tourism Officer of Leganes, Mr. Jerry Anas at (033) 3296622 or at 09127721033.

BINANOG: Performing Arts Traditions of Music, Dance, and Drama

The Panay Bukidnon community of Lambunao is poised to unfurl their traditional Binanog dance once again on the celebration of their 11th Binanog Festival on January 8-12, 2014.  An integral part of the indigenous folk art and craft of this scenic municipality, the festival reflect the rich cultural ancestry and traditional legacy of the ancient times that has penetrated modern Lambunao.

The Binanog dance popularly known as Dinagmay or the courtship dance is associated with a particular event and is performed on special festive occasion. The celebration dance locally known as Inagong sayaw-sayaw is accompanied with its traditional musical instrument, the gong that continues to cast its magical spell on spectators who are always awe struck with the brilliant performances of the local dancers.

The physical movements, from wing flaps or interpreted locally as the Binanugan variety which imitates the movements of the birds. In the dance, the female representing the female banog bird (hawk) will mostly dance for her male while he observes her actions, then both partners will interact with one another. The elements of the dance are performed faster and demonstrate better motor coordination. The climax of the dance features the intricate moves and the recognizable swinging of the shawl from the female dancer is used to capture her male partner to assure a compatible mate.

The Binanog costume reflects the popular culture, indigenous customs, local habits and social life styles of the indigenous inhabitants of Panay. Nestled in exotic valleys and mountain ranges, it has a cold weather for most part of the year. Most of the local inhabitants of Panay Bukidnon prefer to wear colorful traditional attires. Very colorful and attractive look with its multi-colored needlework locally known as Tubok is done with their own deft hands.  The unique dressing style of the local inhabitants displays their rich artistic caliber and creative instinct. The fine quality and the harmonious blend of attractive colors of the Panay Bukidnon clothing have taken many cultural workers by storm and whoever visits the place makes sure to purchase their unique traditional needlework items.

Most of the participants are from the young generation who flawlessly perform this traditional art and spread happiness in the community.

Just like most towns in Iloilo, tourism is one of Lambuno’s most important businesses, and it is blessed to contain all the necessary ingredients of a good tourist destination. Eco-tourism is this town’s number one business and with good reason since it is home to several waterfalls, mini-rainforests, mountains and more. Lambunao’s biodiversity is what makes it one of the key destinations in Iloilo. But if you look beyond ecotourism, cultural treasures are also found in the area.

The indigenous Visayan group of Panay Bukidnon also known as Suludnon are a group of people who reside in the mountainous areas of Capiz-Lambunao and are the only culturally indigenous group of Visayan language-speakers in the whole of Western Visayas. The group is known for their Binanog dance and the use of bamboo musical instruments when express themselves through songs and dances. They are also popular with Panubok or their detailed embroidery.

The 11th Binanog Festival in Lambunao opens on January 8 (Wednesday) with a Motorcade at 1 p.m., Performances of Non-Competing Tribes at 2 p.m., Food Festival, Torch Parade for the Pasidungog kay Sr. Sto. Nino at 6 p.m., Talents Night for Lin-ay Sang Binanog; January 9 (Thursday) Inter-agency Sports Festival and Laro Ng Lahi, Stylized Folkdance Competition at 7 p.m.; January 10 (Friday) Invitational Basketball Tournament at 9 a.m., Search for Lin-ay sang Binanog at 7 p.m.; January 11 (Saturday) Tribe Competition at 1 p.m. and Live Band and Awarding at 7 p.m.

Lambunao is a 48-kilometer or an hour ride by either jeepney or van from Iloilo City via the terminal fronting Christ the King Memorial Park in Jaro. A 2nd class municipality in the third district of the province of Iloilo Lambunao is politically subdivided into 73 barangays. For more information, please contact Miss Jennifer Osorio- Municipal Tourism Officer at 09102401933.

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 ...