Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Mighty Carabaos of Pavia

Carabaos or Water Buffalos will be Iloilo’s pride on May 2 (Saturday), when Pavianhons celebrate what is touted as the Oldest Existing Festival in Iloilo Province. It is a traditional Ilonggo summer celebration. It is considered to be the most celebrated and longest-running of its kind in whole Western Visayas Region.

photo by Bombette G. Marin

The festival, now on its 43rd year will begin with the Carabao-Carroza Parade at 7 a.m. in Barangay Ungka-I till Pavia National High School grandstand. With 18 barangay entries expected to make their way through the streets of the provinces’ Agro-Industrial town. The parade will last between 60 and 90 minutes and is expected to attract a lot of local and international spectators.

photo by Bombette G. Marin

Carabao-Carroza Parade organizers and Municipal and Barangay officials will be joining the parade. A sled made of bamboo decorated with local produce and drawn by a carabao. Owners brush them skin until they are sleek and shiny. Then the carabaos are decorated or painted and attached to the carrozas. Carrozas are then used by their respected muses competing for the annual Carabao-Carroza Festival Queen. Parade participants will compete for the top award, the Most Gaily Decorated Carabao and Carroza.

photo by Bombette G. Marin
The original event dates back in 1973 when the municipal government gave honor to the little helper that plow their ricefields, the carabao.  Farmers acknowledges the carabao’s strength as it pulls, plows, harrows and carts with loads of several tons that is why farmers see carabaos as faithful partners in their lives and have been considered as part of their family.

The typical Pavianhon lifestyle, many live in the farm. They work hard in the farm to provide the basic needs of their family. The carabao is also their source of transportation. Carabaos are a huge help for them. Years past, the organizers decided to expand the celebration into a full-scale event to promote their town.

After the parade, the carabaos compete in a friendly 100-meterrace with and without their carrozas. However due to some construction projects being presently done within the school premises, the race this year will be in an 80-meter distance.

Pavia is 9.6 kilometers north of Iloilo City. Though known to be one of the smallest municipalities in the province with an area of only about 2,703 hectares, it is tagged as the Agr-Industrial Center of the Region.  Politically subdivided into 18 barangays, the municipality is bordered by the municipalities of Oton, San Miguel, Sta. Barbara, Leganes and Iloilo City. For more information, please contact, Mrs. Susan Jovero – Municipal Tourism Officer at 09173009041.

Dance-Theatre of Katagman

Street Dancing competition for Katagman Festival

Known to be the oldest pueblo in Panay, the municipality of Oton, Iloilo will celebrate its 443rd Foundation Anniversary alongside the 14th Katagman Festival on May 3 (Sunday) with a street dancing competition around its public plaza at 4 p.m. and will be followed by the music, dance and theatre competition at 5 p.m. in Oton Plaza. Seven tribes from clustered barangays will perform excerpts of important events that shaped the towns’ rich history and culture.

The festival with a dance-theatre and music platform aims to showcase the work of promising and exciting resident choreographers, but also seeks to nurture and support them through their creation process and with their professional development.

The individual performances of assigned excerpts are energetic piece of dance theatre inspired by historic periods in Oton that showcases clashes with Muslim pirates, Spanish authorities and the anti-religious sects. The performance is aimed to be informative.

Drawing on historical accounts, key images takes its audience on a historical journey, reminding us of the harsh realities that the Ogtonganons faced in the past. The presentations use symbolic movements, patterns and a body language to build up an intense portrait of repression and success and tell its story.

Katagman, Barangay San Antonio’s old name was once the seat of government under Datu Paiburong.  Ogtong, the old name of Oton was the commercial center of the region. It is a town on the plain by the river, with wares of gold, cloths and other trade goods. Business was flourishing even before the arrival of the Spaniards in the area. The Batiano River was its port and was one known to be a major Malay Port trading with Chinese merchants and other inter-island traders.

The festival icon is the golden death mask included amongst the 15 Most Intense Archaeological Discoveries in Philippine History. Considered to be a National Cultural Treasure, the mask was discovered in the 1960s by Alfredo Evangelista and F. Landa Jocano in a grave site in Barangay San Antonio, Oton.

The mask consists of a gold nose-disc and eye-mask is said to have been dated sometime in the late 14th to the early 15th century A.D. Around that time, the town of Oton was a popular trade route. The golden death mask was known to be the first of its kind recovered in the Philippines.

Serving as an amulet against evil spirits, the golden mask was used to cover the face of the dead, an ancient Chinese burial practice common especially among southern Chinese.

The death mask was made by cutting out two pieces of thin gold sheets. The pieces would then be placed on a soft surface, after which the craftsman would use a pointed tool to press the intricate design from behind.

Oton is a First Class municipality. Approximately 10.2 kilometers away from Iloilo City, the town is bordered in the east by the district of Arevalo in Iloilo City; west by the municipality of Tigbauan: north by San Miguel; and the southern portion by a stretch of shoreline of the Sulu Sea. Made up of 37 barangays, the town has a total land area of 8,456 hectares. For more information, please contact Mrs. Irene Otero – Municipal Tourism Officer at 09479954730 or at (033) 3351014.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Panait Ritual Opens for Tubong-Tubong Festival

Cross sa Balabago, photo courtesy of Tubungan LGU

Tubong-Tubong Festival in Tubungan, Iloilo is celebrated every 1st of May and is highlighted by the tribal dance competition showcasing excerpts on how Tubungan got its name and exposes the different rituals still being practiced by the Babaylans (ancient priestess or shamans) in the area.  This year, the celebration will open with the Panaet ritual scheduled on April 30 (Thursday) at 9 a.m. in Barangay Batga, 7.50 kilometers away from the town center.

El Pozo Santo, photo courtesy of Tubungan LGU
Coined from a Visayan term dait or “peace and friendship,” (Alzina, Historia de las Islas de Bisaya), the Panaet ritual will be re-enacted on the Cross sa Balabago. It is said that the ritual gathers all Babaylans from neighboring towns and provinces once every seven years during Holy Thursday on the hilly or mountainous portion. 
Babaylanes would gather to the site they call the holy well or El Pozo Santo which still exists even up to this day. Within the premises of the well are the tabuyoc and bayuco trees known to be holy to the babaylanes. Rituals are performed to ask for good weather, rain or to thank the ancestral spirit for good harvest and energized themselves.

In this mountainous municipality, the religious sector has a fairly comfortable accommodation with animistic practices. Tubungan has a long history of the Panaet ritual as recorded in the book Historicas Paginas on the account of Jose Paramos. It was noted that in April 8, 1874, Fr. Isidro Badrena (1870-1874) sacrificed his life and died as a martyr in Sitio Balabago, Batga, Tubungan in the hands of the Babylans led by Ramos who was performing the Panaet rites. The priest was buried inside the old church of Tubungan in 1810.

historic marker of the cross, photo courtesy of Tubungan LGU
Long before Spanish intervention, Filipinos were animistic in their religious beliefs and practices. They believed that variety of spirits live in all objects or are governed by a certain god. Such beliefs were central to healing practices and nature rites needed to maintaining a balance between this world and the afterlife. Rituals were performed by offering sacrifices and often accompanied by prayers either for a request or for thanksgiving. These practices were initiated by a Medium. Filipinos believed that proper ritual feasting to the spirits would appease them resulting to a bountiful harvest or recovery of the ill, etc.

Such beliefs and practices about spirits were observed even at the height of Roman Catholicism in the Philippines and were considered as acts of evil. Animists were considered as a threat to the new Christian religion and Spanish clergies find them very destructive. The clergies tried to win the animists with the Cross and exterminate them with the Sword.

However, Spanish colonizers failed to completely eradicate the babaylans. They continue the rituals just the same.

Tubungan Church, photo by Bombette G. Marin
Tubungan in the First Congressional District of the province is famous for its rolling hills with considerable number of waterfalls, springs and caves. It is a mountaineer’s playground. Aside from these scenic attractions, the town has its own share of historical sites to contribute to the Heritage District of the province.

The fourth-class municipality of Tubungan is 41.1 kilometers away from the city. Located in the southwestern of the province, it is politically subdivided into 48 barangays over its 8,518 hectare land area. It is bounded on the north by the municipality of Leon, on the south by the municipality of Guimbal, on the east by the municipality of Tigbauan and on the west by the municipality of Igbaras.

To get to the town, one can take a Tubungan jeepney at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary in Barangay Mohon, Oton or when in the city, at the market situated at the back of Robinsons Place Iloilo. For more information, please contact Mrs. Marlyn Tagudar at 09152893395 or at 3960754.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sandiyahan sa Katagman

April 28 marks the 8th year of Sandiya Festival in Oton, Iloilo celebrated this year alongside Katagman Festival as Sandiya Growers Day at 2 p.m. at the Oton Amphitheater Green. The annual event is based on the idea of honouring the watermelon farmers, meeting new friends and sharing in a natural environment, the best watermelon in Iloilo.

Watermelons have been grown in the area for several years. Ogtonganons live closer to nature blessed with abundant farm produce. They wanted to share nature’s bounty with the rest of the community so with the help of the municipal government, the Oton Watermelon Grower’s Association (OWGA) and East-West Seed Company Incorporated organized a festival centered on watermelon, and meeting in a natural setting.

Ogtonganons come together under the umbrella of watermelon which they provide Ilonggos, along with so much more. With our need for tasty, fresh fruit satisfied, plus movement and play, warmth and sunshine, connection and much more, we can relish in the opportunities to dive in and get to know ourselves and others on a deeper, more fulfilling level.

The celebration serves as a platform for watermelon growers to talk and share their best practice on watermelon farming and to discuss with the local government how they can increase consumer demand for watermelon for promotion, research and a possible education program.

Best known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health benefits, the watermelon is related to the cantaloupe, squash, pumpkin, cucumber, and gourd that grow on vines on the ground. Watermelons can be round, oblong, or spherical in shape and feature thick green rinds that are often spotted or striped. Watermelons range in size from a few pounds to upward of ninety pounds. There are between 600–1,200 different varieties of watermelon existing worldwide, but all of these varieties belong to the same scientific genus and species of plant, called Citrullis lanatus.

China is by far the largest watermelon-producing country and accounts for over half of all world production. The European Union countries, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Brazil, and the United States are the next largest watermelon producers, but each produces less than 5% of the world total.

As an opening event for Katagman Festival, the watermelons at this time are at its best, when they are everywhere, where farmers find the best quality watermelon in the farm, and when they are really of high quality and bursting with flavour that they speak for themselves. And special watermelon activities offered too!

Under the leadership of Mayor Vicente Flores, the annual festival has showcased watermelon as a healthy, refreshing, versatile fruit. Thanks in part to organizers effort, watermelon is not only for picnics anymore, but has won a regular place in every Ilonggo’s lists enjoyed year-round either in slices or added to desserts, drinks, and other interesting recipes.

So, stop wondering, come enjoy the best watermelon from Oton with plenty of fun under the sun and meeting new friends.

Oton is a First Class municipality. Approximately 10.2 kilometers away from Iloilo City, the town is bordered in the east by the district of Arevalo in Iloilo City; west by the municipality of Tigbauan: north by San Miguel; and the southern portion by a stretch of shoreline of the Sulu Sea. Made up of 37 barangays, the town has a total land area of 8,456 hectares. For more information, please contact Mrs. Irene Otero – Municipal Tourism Officer at 09479954730 or at (033) 3351014.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Tampisaw Festival: Revering and Honoring Nature’s Bounty

the tribal dance competition

The municipality of Concepcion stages an environmental-themed party through Tampisaw Festival scheduled to take place this year between the 23rd and 25th April. This 3-day festivity will promote and show-off and eclectic mix activities for Mother Nature.

Preliminary activities will open on April 23 (Thursday) with Panubay-subay sa Baybayon (A Coastal Clean-Up Experience) at 6 a.m., Milex Villanueva’s Bicycle Cup at 8 a.m., a Torch Parade or SUGA at 6 p.m., Ceremonial Bonfire at the Fishing Port at 7 p.m., and the  Tampisaw Mardigras: The Sulo Passion (A Night of Upbeat Music) at the Municipal Auditorium at 9 p.m.; April 24 (Friday) Opening of the festival with Panubay-subay sa Baybayon at 6 a.m., Opening Program with the launching of Hashtag Campaign #iloveconcepciontampisaw15, Concepcion Hymn, Tampisaw Earth Dance and Music and the Declaration of the 5-Year Image Transition for 2020 at 9 a.m., Palumba Baroto Race at 10:30 a.m., Opening of Food Fest at 1 p.m., Talent’s Night for Perlas sang Tampisaw at 7 p.m. at the Municipal Auditorium; April 25 (Saturday) Panubay-subay sa Baybayon at 6 a.m., Symposium at 8 a.m., Palumba Sakayan de Motor at 10:30 a.m., Tampisaw Convergent Parade at 1 p.m., Earth Dance Presentation at 2 p.m. at NIPSC Campus, Search for Perlas sang Tampisaw 2015 at 7 p.m. at the Municipal Auditorium.

Tampisaw, a Hiligaynon word that refers to “wading in the water” or “to playfully wade in the water,” was organized in 2000 during the term of former Mayor now Provincial Administrator Dr. Raul Banias. The festival title was coined by Director Helen Catalbas of the Department of Tourism Region VI to describe the people of Concepcion’s love of water and the gifts it brings being the essence of life to the community.

Tampisaw coincides with the Earth Day celebration, a globally celebrated holiday. Oftentimes extended to a weekly event, Earth Day was established to raise awareness about environmental issues especially in safeguarding our natural environment—air, water and land and transform public attitude by activating individuals to strengthen their fight against man’s exploitive relationship with Mother Nature.

Sandbar Island Beach Resort in Barangay Bulubadiangan

Concepcion’s all-embracing coastline is one good reason to visit the area. Popularly known to be one of the pearls of Iloilo, the town has a wealth of charms to offer. It opens up to beautiful, idyllic and typically crushed coral island beaches with tranquil blue waters perfect for swimming, snorkelling and diving. This makes Concepcion a popular vacation spot for couples and young groups.

Agho Island
Among the popular attractions that helped put Concepcion in the tourism map are the island beaches of Agho and Bulubadiangan known for its luscious stretch of white sand and the island of Tambaliza with its centrepiece, the imposing Mt. Manaphag also known as Pan de Azucar that measures 573 meters making it is visible even from the towns of Silay and Talisay in northern Negros.

Tampisaw Festival is a collaborative effort of the municipal government headed by Mayor Milliard Villanueva with the Culture, History, Art and Tourism Council (CHAT) and different departments along with the 25 barangays, the Department of Tourism, private sectors and the academe. 

Concepcion is about 111.4 kilometers away from Iloilo City. Made up of 25 barangays, the town bordered in the north by the municipality of San Dionisio; south by the municipality of Ajuy; west by the municipality of Sara; and in the east by the Visayan Sea. It has a total land area of 9,702.04 hectares.

To get there is a two-hour bus or van trip from Northern Iloilo Public Transport Terminal in Barangay Tagbak, Jaro, Iloilo City. For more information, please contact Mr. Augusto Familara, Municipal Tourism Officer-OIC at 09306514876.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Bantayan: Secret Guardians of Guimbal

The town of Guimbal, Iloilo is a famous heritage destination in the region thanks to its bantayans or baluartes or watchtowers. They are the first thing first time travellers would be introduced to when they visit the town. These bantayans create a picturesque and distinctive silhouette of its historic past.

On April 7-11, 2015, the people of Guimbal will honor these historical icons with the celebration of its annual Bantayan Festival. Celebrating its 13th year, the festival will celebrate its Foundation Day on April 7 (Tuesday) along with the Opening of its Food Festival and Agro-Fair, the Grand Parade with Float and Street Dancing Competition at 3 p.m. and the Opening Program with Drum Beats Competition, 7 p.m. at the Amphitheater; April 8 (Wednesday) Search for Anyag Kang Bantayan, 6 p.m. at the  Amphitheater; April 9 (Thursday) Boat Racing and Porma Balas 8 a.m. at Bantayan Beach Resort, Pintalawas, 11 a.m. at Bantayan Beach Resort and the Re-enactment of the Moro Raids at 2:30 p.m. at the Bantayan Beach Resort and the 11th Banatayan Film Festival, 6 p.m. at the Amphitheater; April 10 (Friday) Motorcross and 4x4 Off-Road Competition, 8 a.m. at Guimbal River and Musical Concert with Artists, 8 p.m. at the Amphitheater; April 11 (Saturday) Tribal Dance Drama Competition, 3 p.m., Merry-Making, 5 p.m. in Rizal Street and the Awards Night and Fireworks Competition, 8:30 pm at the Amphitheater.

Still standing today are four bantayans and all of them are in a not-so-good state of repair owing to the ravages of time and nature. These bantayans served as strongholds constructed by the Spaniards in the Philippines for protection against local aggressors, the Muslim Pirates during the Spanish Colonial Period.

In Guimbal, watchmen would pass on a warning signal around the village by tapping a guimba (an ancient drum made from deerskin) to create a sound until it reaches to another point eventually warning the whole vlllage of an incoming raid.

It was said that sometime in between 16th and 18th centuries, raiding fleets known as caracoas or outriggered vessels with thirty to forty rowers on each side and sailed the waters of the Visayas making it as their roadway to reach Christian pueblos. Many of these islands were devastated by Muslim pirates. They plundered and, burned Christian villages, took the locals as their captives and sold them as their slaves, despoiled the church of its silver and ornaments.

For Christian villages, the people depended on their church to protect them and at some point, used as sleeping quarters if caracoas are sighted. Many of the churches in the Visayas resembled like small fortresses with few windows and a bell tower to warn of an incoming danger.

Frequent attacks prompted the people and Spanish authorities to take action before more attacks will occur in the area. Its extensive coastline was impossible to fortify everywhere so what was planned was to build a ring of watchtowers at strategic points around the village. Watchmen assigned would keep a look out for suspicious ships and warn the people.

In the barangays of Nanga, Rizal-Tuguisan, Generosa and Pescadores, still remain these bantayans, keeping a silent watch over the towns coastal waters.

Guimbal is 29 kilometers south from Iloilo City. It has a land area of 4, 448 hectares subdivided into 33 barangays. The town shares borders with Tigbauan on the east; on the northeast by Tubungan; Igbaras on the northwest; and west by Miag-ao. It annually celebrates its religious fiesta in honor of San Nicolas de Tolentino every September 10. Markey day is every Tuesday.

To get to the resort, one can take a Guimbal jeepney at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary in Barangay Mohon, Oton or when in the city, at the market situated at the back of Robinsons Place Iloilo. For more information, please contact Miss Karen Gayanilo-Felicio at 09199941585.

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 ...