Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Great Day Out for Kanaway Festival

With theme, “KANAWAY Festival Sakdagon Para Pag-uswag sa Quinto Maagum,” the celebration looks to maintain its reputation as being one of the gems in the crown of provinces’ ever-growing repertoire of natural, historical and cultural attractions.

Kanaway is a Hiligaynon term for the northwest trade wind. It is a celebration of northern bounty presented by the various festivals in the district. Each year, towns take charge in the celebration where visitors can enjoy food and drinks, pageantry and parties. This year, the municipality of Barotac Viejo play host to this annual event with its highlight of festival presentation and competition on 1st March (Sunday) at the Barotac Viejo Municipal Covered Gym at 1 in the afternoon. The coronation of Ulitawo kag Lin-ay sang Kanaway Festival 2015 will be at the same venue at 7 in the evening.

We welcome warm temperatures and the gratifying wave of heat, as summer is finally creeping its way in. The season is firing up everyone’ spirits as many get busy drawing up their travel plans for the next few months.

With rapidly growing popularity in the tourism industry of the region, the northern area comprised of 11 municipalities namely, Barotac Viejo, Ajuy, San Rafael, Concepcion, Lemery, Sara, San Dionisio, Batad, Estancia, Balasan and Carle is catching the attention of many.

Known as the Resort Destination of the province, the Fifth Congressional District in the northern area is characterized with an excellent ambiance of white sand island beaches, some remote and others relatively easily reached. If you intend on having a piece of island all to yourself with natural beauty, the northern portion offers many worth seeking out. Try to make it there soon before it gets dominated by tourists.

There is no better way to enjoy the start of summer months than by hitting a festival. The people of northern Iloilo celebrate its own unique festival, Kanaway, a colorful festival of cultures.

Having come from modest beginnings in 2010, this family-friendly event, Kanaway was launched by the Northern Iloilo Center for Culture and Arts or NICCA, an organization managed by the Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College (NIPSC) System.

The Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College is a public college that provides higher vocational, professional, and technical instruction and training in the fields of industry, agriculture, fishery, engineering and sciences, and short-term vocational technical continuing courses. Its main campus is located in Estancia with branches in Barotac Viejo, Batad, Sara, Lemery, Ajuy and Concepcion, Iloilo.

This year, Kanaway also provide a precious opportunity for the people of northern Iloilo to break free from their hectic routines of rebuilding their daily life devastated by the last destructive typhoon Yolanda where lives were lost, infrastructures were destroyed. The typhoon is now a thing of the past for the affected communities who have slowly recovered from the disaster.

There are a lot of festivals now throughout Iloilo, but this is a festival with a purpose and that the people of the northern Iloilo need to get the word out that they are still here and recovering. The local officials are more committed to the core values contained in their shared heritage that makes their festival coming again this year, the only on-going one of its kind district celebration in Iloilo.

Come along to the event that has something for everybody. It is a great day out. To get to the northern towns of the province, one can take the bus at the Northern Central Iloilo Transport Terminal Inc. in Barangay Tagbak, Jaro, Iloilo City.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Hiding Out in Gigante Norte

photo by Bombette G. Marin

The Gigantes Group of Islands in Carles, Iloilo is known for its fabulous island beaches with has soft white sand and crystal clear water. Local and foreign tourists come to the islands every year to enjoy the sea, sand and sun. Its beaches charm visitors with their authentic beauty. Surprisingly, it never gets packed.

The beauty and breath-taking views of Gigante Norte is not to be missed. It is a 60-90 minute motorized pumpboat ride from the wharf of Barangay Bangkal in mainland Carles, is a restful alternative to the bustle of the city.

photo by Bombette G. Marin

You will love the blue green water and the relaxing atmosphere. The island is surrounded by green mountains towering to 699 feet as its highest. It is considered to be one of the biggest islands in the island chain of the Gigantes, Gigante Norte along with Gigante Sur is separated by a 5-mile channel or a 20-minute pumpboat ride.  Gigante Norte is politically subdivided into two barangays: Granada and Asluman. The best way to get around and enjoy the natural and historical attractions in the island is to take motorcycle ride.

photo by Bombette G. Marin
It is an island full of character. It is both beautiful and private. It is a secluded island perfect for those who want to get away for a romantic stay.

It offers a wide range of activities. Rise early and stock up for a picnic at the neighboring Gigante Sur because visitors will be spending the rest of the day on island beaches (Cabugao Gamay, Gabugao Dako, Antonia, Pulupandan and Bantigue) many who have experienced fell in love with. For starters, the site here is great, but most appealing is the sense of seclusion provided by stretches of white sand. Laze away the rest of the afternoon on the beach.

Another interesting thing to do in the island resort, not surprisingly, is snorkelling and swimming in the calm and crystal clear waters somewhere between the island barangay of Asluman and the three small, islands of Gigantillo, Gigatuna, Gigantito.

photo by Bombette G. Marin

Ride over to the iconic structure of the Parola or watchtower built in 1898. It stands almost 38 feet or 12 meters high a few feet away from its ruined keepers’ house. It is known to be one of Iloilo’s oldest lighthouses. Though no longer in use, visitors are welcome to ascend the steps and squeeze into the lantern for a panoramic view of its neighboring islands. Visitors can also explore the caves of Bakwitan and Drier.

JESSA BEACH RESORT, Barangay Granada, photo by Bombette G. Marin

Island resorts are not just private playgrounds for the rich and famous; they are also for the budget-conscious travellers. Gigante Norte offers several lodging options most of which can accommodate around 20 guests and features dishes fresh from the sea daily. But course, the location and amenities vary and are the major rate factors.

Barangay Granada,
photo by Bombette G. Marin
Carles is the last town north of the province of Iloilo. It is 147.6 kilometers away or a 3-hour bus ride from Northern Iloilo Public Transport Terminal in Barangay Tagbak, Jaro, Iloilo City. It is politically subdivided into 33 barangays with a land area of 11,202 hectares). 

To get to island, one can take motorized boat ride from Bangkal Fishing Port in the mainland. 

For more information, please contact Miss Marjorie Gumban-Municipal Tourism Officer at 09198871348 or Miss Ananie Abad-Chairman, Municipal Tourism Council at 09989771419.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Tamasak Festival: Fun, Fitness and Food

Widely accepted as the country’s football capital, Barotac Nuevo will celebrate and showcase the abilities and diversity of their sports-loving community through Tamasak Festival, a diverse, action packed 2-day filled with sports, music, food and fun. 

Celebrated this year on February 20-21 at the FIFA Football Grounds in Barangay Tabucan, the festivity is being promoted and organized by Hon. Nonel Gemora, committee head for the Committee on Tourism and Trade, Commerce and Industry.

The festival will showcase the abilities and diversity of sports-loving Barotacnons as well as open up the opportunity for local people to get involved and have a go at sports they otherwise may not have the opportunity to try.

The event opens with a Parade at 7-8 am Laro ng Lahi at 8:30-10 am, Horse Race at 10-12 noon on February 20 (Friday); Horse Endurance at 8-10am, Mayot Hernan D. Biron Sr. Football Cup at 8-5 pm, Borador Competition at 10-11:30 am, Exhibition of Remote Control Model Cars, Helicopters and Planes at 11:30-12 noon, Miss Gay Chaka Show at 6-8 pm and Live Band from 8pm-1 am. Tamasak offers this line-up of activities to assure visitors is sure to have a good time.

Tamasak is a chance for families to enjoy the festival experience together, in a friendly environment.  The festival takes place at the FIFA Football Grounds in Barangay Tabucan and will feature competitions for individuals and teams including Kabayo Race, Borado, Mayor Hernan Biron Sr. Football Cup. Variety shows and live band in the evening are added special activities. 

The festival is also an avenue to promote Barotac Nuevo and the unique natural and cultural attractions that the area has to offer.

Tamasak has the potential to really grow the pool of amateur athletes in the community and make Barotac Nuevo more of a destination for sports enthusiasts. The goal is to make this an annual event in the area and to grow the event to a level achieved by other multi-sport events in the country.

Increased opportunities for sports, such as the case of Barotac Nuevo can be regarded as a contributor to the community well-being where the celebration has adequately provide a facility for its inhabitants for recreational, sporting, cultural and social activities.

The Second-Class municipality of Barotac Nuevo is 30 kilometers or an hour jeepney or bus ride from the Northern Central Iloilo Transport Terminal, Inc. in Barangay Tagbak, Jaro, Iloilo City. It has a land area of 9,449 hectares politically subdivided by 29 barangays.  It is bordered by Pototan to the west, Dingle to the northwest, Anilao to the northeast, and Dumangas to the south.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sweet Taste and Flavor of Ilonggo Delicacies

photo by Ray Tabafunda

There are several foods that you will want to try out when you are in Iloilo. Every destination in in the province has its delicacy or specialty food item that is a must-try for visitors but if you are only going to bring some as presents, try these tasty sweets that is guaranteed to leave a good impression on your taste buds and of Iloilo.

photo by Ray Tabafunda

BANDI is a delicious candy made of peanuts and caramelized brown sugar.  Peanuts make a classic brittle. The traditional way of making it is by heating a big saucepan then put-in sugar, water, and a little salt. Stir and bring to a boil till it caramelizes. Add the peanuts (toasted) then stir using a wooden spoon. Immediately remove the pan from the heat.  Quickly spoon out bite-size pieces onto the layers of banana leaves that serve as its tray.  Then allow to cool during which they solidify. They are crunchy, sweet, aromatic, with loads of peanuts and sinfully decadent and addictive. This popular livelihood endeavor is ideal in the provinces’ peanut producing areas. Barangay Qui-anan in San Joaquin is the home of Bandi in the province of Iloilo.

photo by Ray Tabafunda

BAYE-BAYE is another popular Ilonggo sweet delicacy. It is a mixture of scraped young coconut meat, coconut water, sugar and newly harvested pounded rice locally known as pinipig. It is made by bringing to boil the ground pinipig mixed with coconut water and sugar. Blend well then add grated young coconut meat. Let it cool and divide it into serving portions. Wrap the mixture either in banana leaves or wax paper. Chill before serving. Traditionally, Pavianhons make it with lots of coconut milk. A treat as sumptuous as baye-baye is no longer surprising when ways of cooking has spread down to other municipalities, and thus now being enjoyed by many. They make and sell their versions of baye-baye. However, nothing beats the original with Baye-baye in Barangay Anilao, Pavia, Iloilo.

photo by Ray Tabafunda

TABLEA is a local cuisine with indigenous and foreign influences. The drinking of chocolate has a long tradition in many local towns all over the country. It said that sometime in the 17th century, Spanish authorities pushed the growing of cacao trees and making its beans into cacao tablets popularly known as tablea.  Fresh cacao beans are removed from their pods, and peeled then dried under the heat of the sun. The beans are then roasted and are manually grinded. It is then mixed with a little sugar and formed into tablets. It is then mixed with a little water, milk and sugar and boiled to almost syrup consistency and served hot especially during breakfast and other special occasions. Cacao Tablea is now a sought after delicacy and famous cottage industry in Cabatuan. It even has its own specialty house where visitors can taste the best native chocolate drink in the province.

photo by Bombette G. Marin

Polvoron is a Philippine dessert or snack popular for “pasalubong” or homecoming gifts. Bay’s nutrifood polvoron is a semi-sweet concoction made of fish protein concentrate, flour, buttermilk, sugar and iodized salt. There are several polvoron recipes available today. There are the cookies and cream polvoron, peanut polvoron, chocolate polvoron, and many more. The protein rich fish polvoron produced by BAY’S Nutrifood of Banate is a product of the project financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2009. Presently, it employs 3 fisherfolks for its operation producing 250 pieces of dark and white chocolate coated fish polvoron daily. It has a selling price of P6.00 per piece. A box for 4 dark chocolate and 4 white chocolate-coated polvoron is also available. The chocolate coated polvoron has a life span of 3 months.

photo by Ray Tabafunda

BUCO PIE is a traditional Filipino baked custard pie with a mixture of young coconut meat. Popularly, it uses sweetened condensed milk to make it denser and healthier. It is considered a specialty in the municipality of Oton, in Barangay Trapiche. The enterprise, was solely considered as an ordinary household undertaking meant to augment the family income. But as it were, improvements and innovations were continuously made on the product by its owner. By word-of-mouth, the product became known not only in the Ilonggo community, but also, to friends, acquaintances and relatives in places all over the country. Preparations starts daily at 2 in the afternoon till 11 in the evening. A number of 300 boxes of buco pies are consumed daily. Shelf life of the pie is up to a week if refrigerated and only 3 days if not.

If you are still thinking of a good gift for your friends and relatives, this is surely a good idea. These perfect sweet snacks are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth in no time. These are yummy treats that everyone who goes to Iloilo would want to have a bite of.

See more of our local delicacies in Bugana, an Arts Month celebration of the province of Iloilo on February 20-24 at the fountain area of Robinsons Place Iloilo.  The event is organized by the Office of Culture, Arts, History and Tourism in partnership with the Department of Tourism Region VI, Department of Trade and Industry and Robinsons Place Iloilo.

For more information about the event, please contact the Office of Culture, Arts, History and Tourism at (033) 3384910 or visit the Provincial Tourism Office, 3rd floor, Provincial Capitol, Bonifacio Drive, Iloilo City.

Beauty from Bobbins

photo by Ray Tabafunda

In Santa Barbara, Iloilo, the art of bobbin lace making started a livelihood project for women at the Western Visayas Sanitarium. It started when Sister Madeleine Dieryck, a Belgian Missionary Sister working for the Hansenites received an embroidered hanky as a gift from a young girl as a gratitude for her love and support to the people in the Sanitarium.

It was in 1991, when Sr. Madeleine introduced bobbin lace making that became an income generating activity to support the center and as a source of income to the women in the center. The Women United Through Handcrafted Lace and Embroidery, Inc. or W.U.T.H.L.E was established.

photo by Ray Tabafunda
Bobbin lace is produced with the use of many threaded bobbins. Early bobbins were produced in England sometime in the mid-16th century. They were made from bone, often from Ox or Mutton. Others also use metal, but wood became the most commonly used material and the most popular even up to this day.

The 18th century was the peak of bobbin lace making. However, industrialization led to the decline of this craft in the 19th century. Finer laces were produced faster by machines, although not all kinds can be reproduced by machine.  But despite the decline, bobbin lace making was still practised in many parts of Europe. Until this day, bobbin lacemaking became a hobby for most people.

Bobbin lace is done on a firm pillow supported either on the makers lap or upon a special stand. A pattern, called pricking, is pinned to a padded surface, the bobbin lace cushion or pillow. The pricked-out pattern is tacked and each twist of the bobbins is held in place by a pin.  The pattern is printed on blue card stock or heavy card and covered with clear or blue contact paper to keep ink from bleeding through to lace. Pricking the holes before making the lace makes it easier to find the hole.

photo by Ray Tabafunda
On each thread hangs a bobbin, which also serves as a weight. The threads are then braided in pairs. The structures thus formed are secured with more pins pushed into the cushion. For all its intricate and elegant appearance, there are only two different movements of bobbins in the formation of the lace: the twist and the cross. There can be between 3 and 200+ pairs on a cushion, depending on the pattern. The resulting lace is a filigree fabric, in which not only the threads, but the open parts as well make up the design. Some parts look like a net, others like woven fabric and some like braids.
Visitors can now see women engage in the art of bobbin lace-making and embroidery in W.U.T.H.L.E. at the Western Visayas Sanitarium in Barangay San Sebastian. It is a non-profit organization from Belgium by the ICM Sister’s Apostolate dedicated to improving the lives of women by involving them in handicrafts such as this traditional handicraft. The center produces fine laces exported worldwide and is known to be the only one existing in Asia. For more information, please call (033)523-7894.

photo by Ray Tabafunda
See the bobbin laces produced in Santa Barbara during the 5-day Arts Month celebration of the province of Iloilo on February 20-24 at the fountain area of Robinsons Place Iloilo.  The office of Culture, Arts, History and Tourism will mount BUGANA, a showcase of local products from SMEs in the province.  The event is also brought to you by the Department of Tourism Region Vi, Department of Trade and Industry and Robinsons Place Iloilo.

For more information about the event, please contact the Office of Culture, Arts, History and Tourism at (033) 3384910 or visit the Provincial Tourism Office, 3rd floor, Provincial Capitol, Bonifacio Drive, Iloilo City.

Friday, February 13, 2015

BUGANA: Inspiring Change

Banana Chips in Badiangan, photo by Ray Tabafunda
The Office of Culture, Arts, History and Tourism of the Iloilo Provincial Government will celebrate the Arts Month by showcasing its suite of products developed by SMEs or small-to-medium enterprises in a fair entitled BUGANA to be held at the fountain area of Robinsons Place Iloilo on February 20-24, 2015.

With the theme, “Inspiring Change: Empowering Entrepreneurs in Small and Medium Enterprises,” Bugana is also supported by the Department of Tourism Region VI, The Department of Trade and Industry and Robinsons Place Iloilo

handloom weaving in Badiangan, photo by Ray Tabafunda

Many of the participating businesses are small and have limited production, so they can only sell in their own place, or some of them have difficulties with logistics. Bugana can increase their sales, and investors can also see various products.

native chocolate from Cabatuan, photo by Ray Tabafunda

Bugana will also serve as their platform to to understand the demand for local products in the existing market and enable SMEs to have access to larger and sustainable markets. SMEs are very important in developing the community. The potential of changing the lives and provide job opportunities is high once they are recognized by stakeholders in the market.

The event will also explore the challenges and opportunities for business start-ups and share best practices and success stories in the province.

bamboocraft in Maasin, photo by Ray Tabafunda

Our local produce is among the few products quite popular among buyers. The exhibition includes woodworks, shellcraft, handloom, metalcraft, bamboocraft, agricultural produce, accessories and foodstuff and other products by SMEs looking forward for investment opportunities.

The exhibition involves SMEs from Oton, Guimbal, Igbaras, Miagao, San Joaquin, Leganes, San Miguel, Pavia, Santa Barbara, Leon, Alimodian, Cabatuan, Janiuay, Badiangan, Maasin, Pototan, Passi City, Duenas, Barotac Viejo, Anilao, Banate, Ajuy, Concepcion, Estancia and Carles.

bandi in San Joaquin, photo by Ray Tabafunda

The event was crafted not only with the needs of the small business in mind but to also increase the participation of SMEs in the supply and distribution value chains and networks, through a better understanding of the cooperation issues among tourism enterprises and with the destination.

needdlecraft in Santa Barbara, photo by Ray Tabafunda

We need to work on how best we can make them offer high quality and value for money products. As they say, there is growth in business. What remains now is for us consumers to start recognizing and for financial institutions to start assisting them with loans to grow.

For more information about the event, please contact the Office of Culture, Arts, History and Tourism at (033) 3384910 or visit the Provincial Tourism Office, 3rd floor, Provincial Capitol, Bonifacio Drive, Iloilo City.

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 ...