Wednesday, April 29, 2015

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.



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