Monday, January 9, 2017

Bayluhay Festival: A Recollection of Ancestors

San Joaquin, Iloilo will celebrate its 14th Bayluhay Festival on January 19, 2017 a Thursday at 2 p.m. This annual festivity is considered as one of the abiding features of their culture, the recollection of ancestors.

Set in an open field at the heart of the town, the festival’s home lies in an idyllic part of the province. Here, heritage area, overlook beautiful coastline, etched by lush farmland. It is a stunning spot where this this normally quiet corner comes alive to the sound of drums and cheers from the crowd.

The celebration of Bayluhay opens up a window into the lives of our forebears, their beliefs, their traditions, their customs, and their ceremonies. In a small way, we are able to see the connections between their lives hundreds of years ago and the present.

This festivity is part of the San Joaquinhon culture. Bayluhay, coined from the Hiligaynon word “Baylo” or “barter or to exchange” is a folk-history festival that commemorates the flight of the ten Bornean Datus from Borneo to the island of Panay using their binidays or boats. It was said that sometime in the first half of the 13th the datus purchased the land from the Aeta Chieftain Marikudo for a golden Salakot and a Manangyad or golden necklace.

It is a grand event where entire community come together to witness the re-enactment as centerpiece of their much-anticipated tribal dance competition.

The tribal dance competition has been widely supported by the public for years, with festival attendees and spectators taking part in each and every Bayluhay Festival, year in and year out. Other forms of entertainment are also included in this year’s 6-day Municipal Fiesta celebration: January 16 (Monday) Opening Day with a parade and Liga Night with special performance from the Hashtag; January 17 (Tuesday) Drum Corps Parade and the Search for Dayang Kang Bayluhay; January 18 (Wednesday) Fun Run; January 20 (Friday) Sarswela and Balikbayan Night; January 21 (Saturday) Pasungay and the Coronation of Municipal Fiesta Queen.

A ritual is performed before the annual tribal dance competition of the festivity. A ritual to welcome guest is done with utmost care to provide a spiritual experience for visitors to the festival. This ritual had been followed for past several years with the same respect that was used several hundred years ago.

The Bayluhay Festival is a time of togetherness and gratitude for the people of San Joaquin. It is a reminder of their ancestors, no wonder that this celebration of reflection and contemplation, more than any other, make them more mindful of others.

A Second Class municipality, San Joaquin is the last town south of the province of Iloilo. It is  85 kilometers away or an hour and twenty minute drive from Iloilo City. It has a land area of 23,135 hectares subdivided into 85 barangays.

To get to the town, one can take a San Joaquin jeepney at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary in Barangay Mohon, Oton or when in the city, take any bus at the Antique Terminal in Molo or at the market situated at the back of Robinsons Place Iloilo. For more information, please contact Miss Erlyn Alunan – Municipal Tourism Officer at 09176619120.

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