Monday, March 28, 2016

A Spectacle that is Bantayan

Summer has arrived. And if you are planning a trip to the southern coast, timing your holiday on this area to coincide with a historic-religious festival that offers you the chance to experience, the excitement, the local culture and religious traditions that takes place every year in the small yet progressive and peaceful town of Guimbal, Iloilo. Surely you will have a good time and experience something truly Ilonggo.

Bantayan Festival in Guimbal, Iloilo is celebrated with exuberance and high-spirit because it is a festivity full of rich history and cultural significance. Guimbalanons unite as they celebrate Bantayan this year on March 29 till April 3.

For 14 years now, the festival holds series of special events unique to this town starting with its Foundation Day on March 29 (Tuesday) with the opening of Agro Fair and Food Festival, Mass at 2 p.m., Grand Float Parade and Street Dancing Competition at 4 p.m., Opening Program with the Drum Beat Competition at 7 p.m.; March 30 (Wednesday) the Search for Anyag kang Bantayan at 8 p.m.; March 31 (Thursday) Boat Racing Competition, Canvass Painting Contest, Pinta Lawas at 8 a.m. till 12 noon at Bantayan Beach Resort, Re-enactment of the Moro Raids in Bantayan Beach Resort at 2:30 p.m. by Tribu Bunabihan, Champion Bantayan Festival 2015 Tribal Dance Drama Competition,  12th Bantayan Film Festival at 8p.m.;  April 1 (Friday) Motocross at Guimbal River, 8 a.m., Musical Concert with Morisette Amon and Grae Fernandez at 8 p.m.; April 2 (Saturday) Tribal Dance Drama Competition at 2 p.m., Merry-Making in Rizal Street and Awards Night and Fireworks Competition at 9:30 p.m.; April 3 (Sunday) last day of Food Festival and Agro Fair.     

The different historic periods of this town were celebrated with reverence to their religion of Christianity, following the Spanish conquest where new stone churches and watchtowers were built that had marked a religious importance in their lives today. 

Religion is an integral part of the dance-drama presentation and is performed with impressive prop, traditional dress, music and dancing providing a blanket of colourful expressions. The dance-drama performances are always a spectacle. It is colourful. It is a happy event but most performers get to be very emotional when finally entering the arena.

Bantayan Festival celebrates their faith to their patron saint and protector, Sto. Nicholas de Tolentino, local legend of their patron which described several apparitions that took place in the town and how these apparitions saved them from fierce attacks by the Muslim Pirates.

The Bantayan or watchtower along with the Guimba, a drum wrapped in animal skin and was used to warn the people of an incoming Moro raid are the cultural icons of the festival. Both are prominent in every dance-drama presentations.

Guimbal is a southern town 29 kilometers or a 35-minute drive from the city of Iloilo. It shares borders with Tigbauan on the east; on the northeast by Tubungan; Igbaras on the northwest; and west by Miagao. With a land area of 44.61 square kilometers it is politically subdivided into 33 barangays. For more information, please contact Mrs. Karen Gayanilo-Felicio at 09082865480.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

More Fun in Asluman for the 1st Tikab-Tikab Festival

Tribal Dance Contest, performers use the Tikab as accessory to their costumes,
photo by Al Destacamento

For sure, Ilonggos loves seafood and all the wonderful local restaurants that truly make Iloilo one of the best places for foodies to live or visit. Ilonggos are proud of their blue crabs, squid, shrimp, oysters, and of course, scallops. It seems fitting to host a festival showcasing some of these favourite signature seafood treats. With some refreshing drinks, music, cooking demonstrations, games and more, and you have Barangay Asluman’s Tikab-Tikab Festival – the scallop festival in Gigante Norte, Carles, Iloilo on March 18-20, 2016.

fishing as the main income generating activity of the people of Barangay Asluman, 
Gigante Norte, Carles, photo by Al Destacamento

The Tikab-Tikab Festival was established to recognize the importance of scallop to the people of Carles. Though celebrated last year with a different festival name (Scallops Festival), the festivity hopes to promote the positive social and economic impacts of the scallop industry to the people of Carles. It also aims to educate the public about scallop and its importance to the local economy. Barangay Asluman in Isla Gigante Norte is registered to having one of the highest cases of poverty incidence in Iloilo and almost 80% depend on fishing as their source of livelihood.

photo by Al Destacamento

The festival also hopes to publicize the rich variety of seafood in the area and provide the opportunity for people to enjoy it. Most importantly, the festival is expected to boost tourism and recreation in Gigantes and its neighboring northern islands.

scallop harvest, photo by Al Destacamento

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources or BFAR via Shellfish Advisory No. 7, series of 2016 dated March 5 lifted the banning in collecting shellfish from the coastal waters of Gigantes Islands and is now negative for red-tide toxin. Scallops is now safe for human consumption and the harvesting and marketing of shellfishes in the area are now permitted.

scallops picking, photo by Al Destacamento

Belonging to the group of bi-valve mollusks, scallops have two convexly ridged shells. Inside it is an edible soft fleshy textured meat that tastes mildly sweet. Even those who are not fond shellfish will surely love its delectable taste that contains a variety of nutrients. Usually found at depths between 60 feet and deeper, scallops are harvested mainly by dredge gear but sometimes with trawl nets.

Barangay Captain Montibon trying his hand at scallop picking, photo by Al Destacamento

Known to be the Scallops Capital of Iloilo, Barangay Asluman is 2 hours away by motorized boat from Bancal Port in mainland Carles or 2.5 hour motorized boat trip from the port of Estancia.  It is a small fishing community known for its mounds of discarded multi-colored scallop shells. The Barangay has facilities for overnight stay. Its attractions include the 18th century Lighthouse and a few caves.

A few minutes motorized boat ride fronting the barangay are the islets of Gigantillo, Gigantito and Gigantona. Other popular islets worth exploring include Cabugao Gamay and Dako, Antonia, Balbagon, Bantigue, Balbagon, Bulubadiang, Gakit-Gakit, Pulupandan, and Uay Dahon.

Carles is the last town north of the province of Iloilo. It is 147.6 kilometers away or a 3-hour bus ride from Ceres Terminal in Dungon B, Jaro, Iloilo City. For more information about the celebration, please contact Barangay Captain Abelardo Montibon at 09184016994 or Marjorie Gumban – Municipal Tourism Officer at 09198871348.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Pintados de Pasi : Showcasing Culture through the Art of Tattooing

Every year in March, the component city of Passi in Iloilo’s Fourth Congressional District comes alive. This is where the annual Pintados de Passi Festival is held – an amazing celebration to preserve and promote its local heritage, celebrated this year on March 12-20.

The special events cater to participants and supporters that represent all walks of life which enhance and promote the festival’s mission to bridge gaps and preserve Passinhon culture. The annual celebration continues to provide an on-going platform to showcase their rich traditions through dance, music and history that affords their community the opportunity for expression, growth and appreciation in a supportive and nurturing environment.

With the theme, “Hirinugyon, Sirinadya, Iririmaw Taton sa Matam-is nga Siyudad ka Passi,” the festivity will open on March 12 Saturday) with a Food Festival; March 14 (Monday) 18th Cityhood Anniversary with Pangpagagda at 2 p.m. and the Search for Bb. Pintados 2016 Talents Night – Passi Social Hall at 7 p.m.; March 15 (Tuesday) Opening Program Parade and Pasundayag at 8 a.m., Golden Hearts Award and Handuraw: Songs and Dances of the World – Passi Social Hall at 7 p.m.; March 16 (Wednesday) Tree Planting at 8 a.m., Pasundayag sang Academia 2016 by Academia de San Guillermo – Plaza Paloma at 7 p.m.; March 17 (Thursday) Montessori Night; March 18 (Friday) Karosa Parada and Carabao Painting Contest at 7 a.m., Grand Pageant Night, Search for Bb. Pintados 2016 – Passi Social Hall at 7 p.m.; March 19 (Saturday) TM Republik Caravan with Sinadya sa Suba at 7 a.m., Pinta Lawas – Plaza Paloma at 7 a.m., All-Star Basketball Tournament – Passi Social Hall at 3 p.m., Search for Ginoong Pintados 2016 – Plaza Paloma at 6 p.m.; March 20 (Sunday) Tribe Competition at 8 a.m., Awarding and Fireworks Display – Plaza Paloma at 5 p.m., Night with the Stars – Plaza Paloma at 7 p.m.

Pintados de Pasi Festival is regarded as one of the region’s most prestigious festivals and is consistently mentioned as a do-not-miss festival in Iloilo. This annual cultural arts event fosters a rich sense of cultural heritage and awareness. It serves as an outreach event that attracts attention locally and nationally. For its people, they want to tell a different story about their place by exploring this dynamic celebration.

Maintaining their cultural integrity is important, Pintados de Pasi Festival honor their tattooed ancestors such that wearing their tattoo design during their dance presentations is their great way to show respect for their traditional culture.

Traditionally, the art of tattooing was part of a ritual and portrayed elements of achievement and status of the person wearing the tattoo.  Tribal tattoos had profound personal attachments to them. It symbolized proof of achievement and protection.

The Pintados in the Visayan culture have a reverence to some of the features in quite a deep and unique way with some wearing some of the symbols as a sign of connection or reminder that the symbol has a special meaning in the life of the wearer.

Commonly done in black ink, the marks are of thick lines with geometric shapes and beautiful pattern work exposed in the male shoulder---often considered the most appropriate place for wearing it. The uniform arrangements of the zigzag lines, curves make the entire tribal tattoo of the Visayan Pintado look spectacular. The more tattoos they have especially on their visible body parts the more it enhances their masculinity especially in attracting their female partner.

Passi City is 50 kilometers away or an hour and twenty-minute drive from Iloilo City. It is located along the Central portion of the province using the Iloilo-Capiz National Highway.  Made up of 51 barangays, it has a land area of 25,068 hectares. Visitors to Passi City can take the bus at Ceres Terminal in Dungon B, Jaro, Iloilo City. For more information about the celebration, please contact Mrs. Gina Palmares – Municipal Tourism Officer at (033) 3115087/ 3115947.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Lenten Fair in Iloilo

photo courtesy of LGU-Cabatuan

Iloilo has its own beautiful traditional Lenten celebration. Throughout Lenten season, many towns have precious and moving traditions played out every year during Holy Week or Semana Santa, part of a tradition celebrated throughout the country. 

Many towns spend all year planning for the spectacle and is home to some of the biggest Lenten traditions. For visitors and tourists here in time for the Lenten spectacle, towns offer plenty of other things to do.

photo courtesy of LGU-Cabatuan
Church-hopping is a Lenten base for exploring Iloilo. In the Lenten week, churches will be shrouded in gloom throughout the week. All are dolled up in black or violet draperies, the altars covered in darkness and sorrow are decorated with flowers and are well-lighted. The Way of the Cross or Via Crucis is a popular activity among families and friends where they go from one church to the other pausing at each station for quiet meditation and prayer.

photo courtesy of LGU-Cabatuan

Considered to be the most picturesque of all observances is the dramatic procession that goes around the main streets from the church in the afternoon of Good Friday. The towns of Sta. Barbara, Leganes and Igbaras display century-old masterpieces of realistic figures of main Lenten characters mounted on lavishly decorated and lit platforms. The floats are convoyed by throngs of faithful holding candles and rosaries while uttering laments or singing penitential chants accompanied by lugubrious music.
Theatrical dramatization of the Passion of Christ brings to life the death of our Lord. Annually celebrated in the town of Barotac Viejo the Taltal is this town’s way of maintaining devotion and traditions today.

photo courtesy of LGU-Cabatuan

Annually in Cabatuan, residents along the streets begin preparations weeks and even months in advance creating beautifully intricate life-size Lenten characters of the Stations of the Cross. 

photo courtesy of LGU-Cabatuan

Along with this is the traditional Filipino ritual involving an uninterrupted chanting-singing of the verses of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The Pasyon is structured in five-line stanzas, with each line containing eight syllables performed in the local dialect, Kiniray-a as a song a capella or with the accompaniment of a guitar. Many Cabatuananons consider Pasyon and Kapiya as their “panata” or personal pledge during Holy Week. It has evolved into a community activity that allows their community devotees to express their faith.

photo courtesy of LGU-Cabatuan

Lent is a 40-day religious season observed by Christians all over the world. It starts on Ash Wednesday where the priest dips his thumb into ashes previously blessed and marks a cross to the forehead of the faithful as a public and communal sign of penance; and ends on Easter Sunday. During Lent the faithful perform penance through fasting, giving alms or abstaining from any amusement.

photo courtesy of LGU-Cabatuan

The Lenten season is an opportunity for adults to discuss these annual practices to the younger generation. This practices done in the present time is connected to all other periods of time, those that preceded the present generation and those that will come after. It is during special occasions such as this that our unique cultural traditions have the greatest potential to help especially the present generation for self-definition and to contribute to their well-being. It is of greatest pride to be a part of the transmission of our particular family and ethnic customs. In so doing, we come to realize our immortality by being part of living traditions.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Tigbauan and the Annual Pagdaug-Saludan Festival

Spend a sweet, welcome to summer weekend in Tigbauan during the 2nd annual Pagdaug-Saludan Festival, March 14- 18, 2016. Both, the abundance the town’s home-grown produce and artisan food products plus the annual celebration of the historic Liberation of Panay are what initiated this free, family-oriented arts and crafts event.

March 14 (Monday) Opening of Agri-Tourism and Trade Fair, Opening Salvo and Street-dancing Competition at 2 p.m.; March 15 (Tuesday) Pagdaug-Saludan Festival Queen 2016 Coronation Night at  the Covered Gym, 7 p.m.; March 16 (Wednesday) PNP Night, Covered gym at 7 p.m.; March17 (Thursday) 23rd Foundation Day of SCFAI-Tigbauan, Covered Gym at 1 p.m.;  March 18 (Friday) Victory Run 2016 (Oton to Parara Landmark) at 5 a.m., Mass at 6:30 a.m., Foot Parade and Floral Offering at the Liberation Landmark at 7:30 a.m., Tribal Dance Competition at 2 p.m., Closing and Awarding Ceremonies at 5 p.m.

Saludan, a Hiligaynon term coined from the word salud, the traditional way of gathering or accumulating a thing for its interest or value such as threshing rice using a basket or catching fingerlings through nets. Fishing and farming had been this town’s way of life.

On its 2nd year, this traditional harvest festivity of Saludan is celebrated alongside Pagdaug, a festival segment commemorating the annual observance of the Liberation of Panay. The festivity has become the symbol of Tigbauans’ esteem not only in terms of its abundant varieties of local produce but also for the honoured Tigbauanons who served and died, and all who supported the World War II effort from this town.

The festival highlight is the tribe performances that illuminate the Japanese experience during the WWII era with personal stories. Symbolic of the defining event are dramatizations of some chilling reminders of its Japanese wartime existence. The presentations will draw on the commemorative experiences of spectators watching by capturing, in the audiences’ own words, their individual reflections on those Tigbauanons who have sacrificed their lives during WWII.

A scenic drive around the town is a perfect historic escapade where its historic structures are completely immersed in the urban fabric, both its past and its future. Visitors are oftentimes forced to re-imagine its past.

It was in 1942 when the Japanese Imperial Armies invaded the Philippines. Outside of Manila, Iloilo was the most devastated. Iloilo was at that time a massive military complex housing in its history of Japanese military. Churches, plazas, schools and colonial houses were used as detention areas for Japanese soldiers. Port San Pedro in the city, used as a Japanese Garrison was heavily damaged. The town of Tigbauan was one of those devastated areas.

The warship shaped mini-memorial marker in Barangay Parara was built in honour of all the Ilonggos who have given their lives in the defense of the Japanese Imperial Army.  It was on the 18th of March, 1945 when the 40th Infantry Division, spearheaded by the 185th Infantry Regiment landed at the shoreline of Barangay Parara in Tigbauan.  Several tanks and infantry with an estimated number of 23,000 guerilla forces headed by Col. Macario Perlta had secured the area.

With today's conveniences, visitors can still enjoy Tigbauan’s historic charm with plenty of historic sites that form part of its tourism system. The best historic experiences here are closer than you think.

Come join us for summer fun in Tigbauan, just 20 minutes or 22.5 kilometers south of Iloilo City. The town is comprised of 52 barangays over its 6,062 hectare land area and is bordered in the northwest by Leon; the northeast by San Miguel; east by Oton; west by Guimbal and the Iloilo Strait in the south.

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