Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Salakayan Festival: An Enjoyable Way to Experience Miagao’s History

photo by Kim Isiah Valencia
Miagao, Iloilo - Now well-known around the country than other folk festivals in Iloilo, far more people flock to see the re-enactment of the three-centuries-long struggle for control of the country, between followers of Christianity against the Muslims. Knowing it first hand is to attend the Salakayan Festival celebration. From the Hiligaynon word “Salakay” or “to attack,” the Salakayan tribe competition remains as the favorite of all special events scheduled this year on February 7 (Saturday) at 9 a.m. Students from high school and collegiate levels re-enact the historic battle between the natives and the Muslim pirates sometime in 1754.

photo by Kim Isiah Valencia

The 17th Salakayan Festival will be celebrated with the towns’ 299th Foundation Anniversary. With its theme, “Sa Pagbag-o nga Mainuswagon, Pinannubling Miagaowanon Tipigan Naton,” series of special events are highlighted daily starting on January 31 (Saturday) opens with a Fun Run by UP Ichthyophilic Society at 5:30 a.m., Mass and Fluvial Parade with Blessing of Boats and CAP Teves Pabalhas sa Baras at 7:00 a.m., Battle of the Sounds at 1 p.m., Opening Salvo at 2 p.m., Opening of Food Fair at 6 p.m., Search for Miss Salakayan 2015 at 8 p.m.; February 1 (Sunday) SIPC Night at 7 p.m.; February 2 (Monday) Opening of Agro Trade Fair at 8 a.m., DepEd Day at 2 p.m., and MCES Night at 7 p.m.; February 3 (Tuesday) Naval Reserve Medical Mission at 8 a.m., MCES and MVS Class 1977 and 1981 at 6 p.m.; February 4 (Wednesday) Massage Therapy Blind Masseurs at JRBB Hall at 8 a.m., Sine Ta Dya: 1st Miagao Film Festival at JRBB Hall at 2 p.m., Higantes Showdown at 6:30 p.m. and Liga Night at 7 p.m.; February 5 (Thursday) Investment Forum at 9 a.m., Sine Ta Dya at 2 p.m., Balik Banwa Night at 7 p.m.; February 6 (Friday) Vendors Night at 7 p.m.; February 7 (Saturday) Tribes Competition at 8 a.m., Float Parade at 2 p.m., Awarding at 8 p.m.; February 8 (Sunday) Fun Run at 5:30 a.m., Motorcross at 7 a.m., Fun Ride 7:30 a.m. and Awarding of Outstanding Miagaowanon and Coronation of Queen of Miagao at 8 p.m.

photo by Kim Isiah Valencia

In the coastal municipalities of the First Congressional District of the province, the conflict between the Moro pirates and Christian local settlements events are simply an annual highlight, a way to have fun while taking pride in the area's rich history. The Christian community is resigned to what they see as an uncomfortable reminder of how they were once terrorized by Muslim pirates.

photo by Kim Isiah Valencia

Key to the re-enactment is the building of the present St. Thomas of Villanova Parish to its present site, which was originally built in Sitio Ubos near the river. There was no battle then. While there had been small revolts by the town's natives because they were frequent targets of Piracy. The oppression ended when the locals successfully defended their town from the attack of the barbaric Sulu pirates in May 7, 1754.

photo by Kim Isiah Valencia

Each year, Miagaowanons from other regions and outside of the country return to Miagao to take part in Salakayan Festival. The celebration is organised by the local government unit headed by the very active and tourism-oriented Municipal Mayor, Hon. Macario Napulan. Participants as far as its mountain barangays descend to the town proper for the occasion.

The municipality of Miagao is 40.5 kilometers south from Iloilo City. Comprised of 199 barangays with a land area of 13,286 hectares, the town is bounded by the town of Igbaras in the northeast, by Guimbal in the east, by San Joaquin in the west and by the municipality of Sibalom in the province of Antique in the northwest.

To get to Miagao, 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. For more information, please contact, Mr. Arli Nim-Municipal Tourism Officer at 09332124066.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Hirinugyaw-Suguidanonay Festival: Vibrant and Distinctive Storytelling Traditions

With the theme, “Kay Sr. Sto. Nino Maghugyaw, Para Pag Amlig Dunang Manggad Mangibabaw,” the municipality of Calinog, Iloilo will highlight its tribal dance competition on February 1 (Sunday) at 9 a.m. This annual celebration of Hirinugyaw-Suguidanonay Festival communicates its cultural traditions, values, and beliefs through dances and storytelling expressed in chants.

The performances are unique with a dynamic interaction between the storyteller (chanter) and the audiences. During the chant, listeners create mental images of the story’s events. The presentations are of two parts; the Hirinugyaw and the Suguidanon. It normally starts with the Suguidanon or storytelling done through chants.

The chanting of synopsis of chapters of Hinilawod provides spectators with highlights in chapters of the epic assigned annually. The legendary epic poem, Hinilawod (Tales from the Mouth of the Halawod River) is hailed to be one of the longest epics in the world. It is one of the country’s biggest and richest literary pieces. It is said that when recorded it takes about 30 hours and when performed as a chant with interruptions for meals and sleep, the epic lasts for three days.

Hinilawod is written and recorded by Ilonggo Anthropologist Dr. F. Landa Jocano (a native of Cabatuan, Iloilo) in 1957 based from stories from the inhabitants of Central Panay (Sulodnon). It is a rich source of their cultural practices, religion and rituals. The Sulodnon or Bukidnon tribe in Calinog comprises its thirteen (13) mountain barangays.

The epic tells of the exploits of the three demigod brothers of Panay: Labaw Donggon, Humadapnon and Dumalapdap. It showcases value of honor, courage and dignity. By portraying Visayan mythology through chants and movement, the festival performances show how audiences can relate to and understand the same story in different ways, and how the exploration of this tradition could benefit people from all walks of life.

Suguidanon (storytelling) develops as the community looks for a recreation of memory in community life. It is a program that will explore and celebrate the role that Panay Bukidnon oral traditions have played in the shaping of our local culture. Suguidanon will take a close look at how the oral traditions of the Sulod have entertained and influenced generations of people.

The last part of the presentation is the Hirinugyaw. Derived from the Hiligaynon word hugyaw or joy, it showcases Calinognon’s devotion to the Sr. Sto. Niño or the Child Jesus where dancers move out in rhythmic, jerky dance steps, with shouts of joy synchronized to the beatings of the drums.

Calinog is 59.3 kilometers central of the province of Iloilo. It is politically subdivided into 59 barangays over its land area of 23, 280 hectares. The town is bordered in the north by the Municipality of Tapaz, Capiz; in the northeast by the Municipality of Bingawan; in the northwest by the Municipality of San Remigio, Antique; in the south by the Municipality of Lambunao; in the southeast by the Municipality of Dueñas and in the southwest by the Municipality of Valderrama, Antique. Market day is every Tuesday. Its religious Fiesta is annually celebrated in honor of Immaculada Concepcion every 8th of December.

To get to Calinog, numerous jeepneys and buses run daily from Pavia People’s Terminal in  Barangay Ungka-II, Paviaa beside Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines plant or at the Bus-Jeepney Terminal fronting Christ the King Memorial Park in Jaro, Iloilo City.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Saad: Celebrating Faith, Love and Unity among Leganesnons

photo courtesy of FB Leganestourism Iloilo

The annual Saad Festival of Leganes, Iloilo celebrated this year on January 15-22 is a celebration that honors St. Vincent Ferrer, the town’s patron and brings Leganesnons together. It is primarily a domestic celebration associated with the miraculous cure and blessings of the winged Saint to devotees who annually visit the parish every feast day.

Patron saints are the faithful who have died and gone to heaven. Saints specializes in helping people with particular types of concerns. Believers say that God regularly performs miracles through patron saints when people pray to them.

photo courtesy of FB Leganestourism Iloilo
Contemporary evidence pictures the saint to have been a man of medium height, with a lofty forehead, and very expressive dark eyes. His hair was fair in color. The saint can be seen as a statue preaching, wearing a black preaching cloak of the Dominican Order, with one hand upraised and another hand bearing holding a book identified to be the Book of the Apocalypse. St. Vincent Ferrer is known to be the Preacher of the Judgement, the Angel of the Judgement as foretold in the Apocalypse of St. John.

Many Catholics believe in St. Vincent Ferre and that miracles and intercession or the process of praying to him to approach God on your behalf, are all connected. Many have reported their personal stories of intercession. Many believe that when they pray for assistance from the saint they can petition from God on our behalf. And many have learned that praying for St. Vincent Ferrer works.

St. Vincent Ferrer was one of the most gifted saints. He was a politician, penitent, theologian, healer, exorcist, preacher, miracle worker, judge, reconciler and peacemaker, a prophet, an apostle, and he earned the title of “Angel of Judgment.” He was perceived as a man and angel.

Devotees from neighboring towns and provinces travel to participate in this event highlighted by its cultural dance competition on January 22 (Thursday) at 3 p.m. This festival is known around the region as one of the more popular religious festivals.

photo courtesy of FB Leganestourism Iloilo

Saad is partly a procession and a dance-drama event. Many Catholics join the procession by carrying symbols associated with the Saint. An image is carried at the back of the procession, which goes around the town center to the performance area fronting the church.

Palapak is an anticipated feature of the tribe performances. It is done by gently pressing the base of a small image of San Vicente Ferrer on the head of the devotee. Crowds gather for the “palapak” and light candles to offer prayer. Palapak is a religious tradition of Leganesnons.

photos courtesy of FB Leganestourism Iloilo

Saad steps are broken into floor work, turns, leaps and expressive movement. The coordination of the steps forms a beautiful dance piece that is glorifying to God while also serving as a blessing to the audience. The leaps and jumps help to tell stories of God with lifting desiring the strength to praise God more fully. It adds to the strong message component, but also looks gorgeous in flowing skirts, providing a glorious praise show. Commonly seen are positions of praising--a kneeling prayer, an outstretched arm, a curled up, contorted body--these are all symbols of worship and reverence.

St. Vincent Ferrer is honored to be a part of Ilonggo’s faith journey.  The town of Leganes serves as the primary religious educator. 

Leganes is 10.9 kilometers north from the city. It is made up of 18 barangays politically subdividing its 3,216 hectare land area. To get to Leganes, one can take a 20-minuterjeepney ride from Jaro Plaza. For more information, please contact, Mr. Jerry Anas - Municipal Tourism Officer at 09127721033.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Bayluhay: Continuing to Educate, Inspire, Honour and Respect History

re-enactment of the Barter of Panay, photo courtesy of San Joaquin Iloilo FB Account
The annual celebration of Bayluhay Festival in San Joaquin, Iloilo continues to excite its visitors and the experience is ever-changing. Celebrated this year on January 12-17, Bayluhay is highlighted by the tribe competition on January 15 at 2 p.m.

photo courtesy of San Joaquin Iloilo FB Account

Bayluhay features dance and music that reflects a tradition of community cooperation and celebration that began at least as early as the arrival of its permanent settlers. They brought their traditions with them. Their rituals shown in their dances have historically held an essential place in their culture and had allowed visitors of the community to experience communion with each other.

The dances possess many levels of meaning. Dancers perform solemn movements where each gesture has significance such as honouring deities and ancestors, affecting weather patterns, celebrating birth, grieving the dead, and seeking answers to complex community dilemmas.

photo courtesy of San Joaquin Iloilo FB Account

The centerpiece of the performances is based on folk history of the Maragtas legend on the Barter of Panay believed to have taken place sometime in the 12th century with the landing of the ten (10) Bornean Chieftains or "Datus" near the mouth of Siwaragan River in San Joaquin. To escape from the cruelty and injustice of their Bornean ruler Sultan Makatunaw, the datus headed by Datu Puti with their families boarded their “binidays" (boats) and sailed out of Borneo not knowing where to go.  They were warmly welcomed by the inhabitants of the island of Panay, the peace-loving Atis or Aetas with their chieftain, Marikudo, and his wife Maniwangtiwang. Negotiations were made of the entire lowland of the island to be taken over by the datus for the price of a golden Saduk (hat), a Manangyad or a golden necklace and various gifts. The transaction was successfully sealed in a place in Sinogbuhan, the Imbidayan Rock. The Atis fled to the mountains. The datu leader, Puti continued his voyage leaving the entire island to the leadership Sumakwel with his wife Kapinangan. Sumakwel later on divided Panay into three: Irong-irong (Iloilo), Hamtic (Antique), and Aklan. Irong-irong was given to the leadership of Paiburong. The island lived in peace and prosperity until the arrival of Spaniards authorities. 

photo courtesy of San Joaquin Iloilo FB Account

Bayluhay celebrates our rich culture, traditions, proud people and enlightenment spanning many years. Our culture or tradition cannot be complete without us tracing the origin of our people that practise the culture. We must not only follow but also preserve them, both for our identity and for our coming future. 

photo courtesy of San Joaquin Iloilo FB Account

Make San Joaquin your destination for a unique and fun-filled family outing or bring your friends to experience Spanish heritage as it is preserved by the community today. Whether your visit is a family stopover or a couple’s weekend get-away, the Camposanto at the Catholic Cemetery, Catholic Church, Garinfarm and Marine Sanctuaries are must-sees. San Joaquin is the perfect destination for an enjoyable driving holiday.

To get to San Joaquin, the last municipality in the southern district of Iloilo Province, 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. Metered taxis are also available. For more information, please contact Mrs. Erlyn Alunan – Municipal Tourism Officer at 09498309171.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

San Joaquin Celebrates the Wild and Festive Mood of Pasungay

photo by Ray Tabafunda

Pasungay, celebrated this year on January 17 is one of the favorite activities of the people in San Joaquin. Bullfighting in the area can be traced back to the Spanish occupation and has developed into a ritualistic occasion observed in connection with its feast day. Unlike in Spain and Latin America, bullfights in San Joaquin do not feature matadors, nor is there much blood or gore.

photo by Ray Tabafunda

Pasungay along with Pahibag (horsefight) is a is a deeply rooted special event annually observed every 2nd Saturday of January as part of the week-long Municipal Fiesta celebration of the municipality of San Joaquin, Iloilo.

Popular in the upland barangays, people raise "fighting bulls" (water buffaloes) exclusively for the use of bullfight.  Fighting bulls are usually big and strong, with bulky and sharp horns.

photo by Ray Tabafunda

The bullfight field is located at the San Joaquin Sports Stadium, a stretch of open flat land at the back of the municipal hall.  On the event day, thousands would come all the way from neighboring provinces to partake in the tradition and fill the stadium while some gather at the back of the field.

photo by Ray Tabafunda

Bull keepers bring their fighting bulls and horses to the arena to identify their opponent. Typically, the bulls spend minutes (or hours) butting heads until one yields. To start the bout, the trainers release them and draw them together with ropes then the two bulls begin to fight. For the horse fight, the stallions are encouraged to fight by being lead to a mare in heat, and then taking the female horse away when the stallions are aroused.

The audiences cheer loudly. At times people would lay bets on which one will be standing after the fight that normally goes on for thirty-minutes or more and ends until one bull collapses or is simply too exhausted to continue. Keepers would then hitch their legs and draw them apart.

photo by Ray Tabafunda

This activity is a means of connecting to their past, celebrating their indigenous roots and ancestries. It is observed not only for victory, but also for blessing good harvest in the coming year and multiple reproductions of the cattle.

To get to San Joaquin, the last municipality in the southern district of Iloilo Province, 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. Metered taxis are also available. For more information, please contact Mrs. Erlyn Alunan – Municipal Tourism Officer at 09498309171.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Binanog Festival: Inspiring and Unifying the Indigenous Community in Lambunao

Binanog Dancers in front of Lambunao Church photo by Jennifer Osorio
Twelve years in Iloilo. That makes the scenic town of Lambunao one of the provinces’ well-established festivals and justly-famous. Take a look at what Lambunaonons will offer for 2015. Come and be part of something extraordinary.

January 7 (Wednesday) is the Opening Salvo at 8 a.m. with the opening of the Inter-agency Basketball and Volleyball; Mass at 1 p.m.; Motorcade at 2 p.m.; Opening Program with special performances from competing tribes at the front area of the Municipal Hall at 3 p.m.; Cultural Village Tour featuring ethno-culinary dishes at the Food Festival at 4:30 p.m.; 3rd Pasidungog kay Sr. Sto. Nino Torch Parade and Para-Liturgy - Veneration of Sr. Sto. Nino at the Municipal Bandstand at 5:30 p.m.; Talents Night of Lin-ay Sang Binanog 2015 at the municipal gymnasium at 9 p.m.

January 8 (Thursday) opens with an Inter-agency Basketball and Volleyball at 8 a.m.; Lin-ay Sang Binanog Talent Showcase through Ethno-Culinary Cooking Competition at 8 a.m.; Indigenous People’s Day through an immersion and dance presentation at the Cultural Village at 9 a.m.

January 9 (Friday) features the Inter-agency sportsfest and immersion at the cultural village at 8 a.m.; Coronation Night of Lin-ay Sang Binanog 2015 at 7 p.m.

January 10 (Saturday) Inter-agency sportsfest and Battle of the Mini Sound at 8 a.m.; Stylized Folk Dance Competition at 1 p.m.;  Harakhak sa Plaza at 7 p.m.

January 11 (Sunday) Mass for the competing tribes at 6:30 a.m.; Tribe Competition at 8 a.m.; Awarding Ceremony at 5 p.m.; Fireworks Display with Live Band at 6:30 p.m.

photo by Jennifer Osorio

The highlight of the tribal presentation is the “binanog” dance, a courtship dance that imitates the movements of the 'banog' bird (hawk) commonly found in Panay farmlands. Dressed in traditional male and female Panay Bukidnon costumes the presentation begins with a chant. Male dancers in red pants with black top with traditional red and white embroidered patterns take centerstage and dances in leaping motions to get the attention of his female counterpart.  Female dancers attract their male counterpart using their hips and graceful movements of the hands. Wearing a “pudong” or headpiece of old coins exposing her face and a “biningkit” or an adornment of old coins for the neck. In red or white top with embroidered patterns and a patadyong draped as a skirt with a piece of cloth wrap around her waist.  The harmonious pulsating movement of both male and female dancers synchronizes to the beating the gong as each dancer matches the steps of its counterpart. The dances reaches climax as the female dancer ties her male counterpart using the cloth wrapped around her waist.

photo by Jennifer Osorio
A group of indigenous people known as Panay Bukidnon or People of the Panay Mountains live in the highlands of Panay. This small ethnic community is believed to have been the descendants of 10 Bornean Datus (chieftains) that landed in Siwaragan River in San Joaquin and purchased the rich plains of the island from the Ati tribe, the original settlers. Several generations later, when Spanish authorities ruled the island, they relocated into the mountains.

Just like any other indigenous group in the Philippines, the Panay Bukidnons are known for their rich culture in music, dance, and chants. Most recognized is the chanting of the Hinilawod epic (Tales from the Halawod River) that has been kept alive even up to this day.

Lambunao’s Binanog Festival is an opening salvo for Iloilo’s year-long of municipal and city festivities. Dance enthusiasts from near and far gather to enjoy Lambunao’s warm fellowship and this town’s rural charm

photo by Jennifer Osorio

Lambunao is a second class municipality in the third district of the province of Iloilo. The town is comprised of 73 barangays and is 48-kilometer or an hour leisure trip by either van or bus from the terminal fronting Christ the King Memorial Park in Jaro, Iloilo City. For more information, please contact Miss Jennifer Osorio- Municipal Tourism Officer at 09199950593.

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