Friday, April 28, 2017

Carabao-Carroza Festival at 45

Pavia, Iloilo welcomes the warm temperature and the gratifying wave of heat with the celebration of Carabao-Carroza Festival on May 3, 2017.The celebration continues to fire up every Pavianhons’ spirit in entertaining their visitors with its annual festivity on its 45th year this year.

The Carabao-Carroza Festival, considered as the provinces’ oldest festival is one of the favourite cultural celebrations of the Ilonggos. It has evolved into a ritualistic occasion that combines the colourful and enjoyable atmosphere of deeply-rooted events of Carabao-Carroza parade and race annually observed every as part of the towns’ Municipal Fiesta celebration.

The local officials are more committed to the core values contained in their shared heritage that makes Carabao-Carroza Festival the longest-running festival celebration in Iloilo.

As early as 6:30 am, residents and spectators partake in the tradition as they fill the parade route to witness and cheer for their favourites. The parade is made up of 18 well-embellished carrozas along with 18 lovely muses and supported by their respective barangays officials and supporters wearing color-coded shirts. The parade starts in Barangay Ungka-I passing the poblacion area and finishes at the grandstand of Pavia National High School. The 18 muses are then introduced individually during a short program.

The second part of the celebration begins as Carabaos compete in a friendly 100-meter race at the football ground of Pavia National High School in categories with and without their carrozas.

This activity is a means of connecting to their past and celebrating their indigenous roots and ancestries. It is observed not only for blessing for good and bountiful produce during the year and for the coming year but celebrate and  honor an important and faithful partner that support those persons involved in the farming industry of this town.  Pavianhons see and consider their carabaos as part of their family.

Situated 9.6 kilometers or a 20-minute drive north of Iloilo City is the Agro-Industrial Center of the province, Pavia. Measuring only 2,703 hectares, this Second Class municipality is politically subdivided into 18 barangays and is bordered by the municipalities of Oton, San Miguel, Sta. Barbara, Leganes and Iloilo City. To get to Pavia, one can take jeepney in Jaro, Iloilo City.

Come along to the event. It will surely be a great day out. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Tubong-Tubong: Celebrating Community and Identity

Tubungan, Iloilo will showcase its culture to visitors from around the province with the celebration of its annual Tubong-Tubong Festival, its premiere cultural event on April 28 – May 1, 2017. A trip to the town should definitely be part of your festival itinerary of Iloilo.

Tubong-Tubong is a joint community-led effort that provides series of special events at the town center. The origins of the festivity may be traced back 16 years ago where Tubong-Tubong reflected and focused its theme on how Tubungan got its name and how cooperation among its people and neighboring towns served as a catalyst for its independence as a municipality from Guimbal.

The perceived need for such celebration was also driven by the necessity to promote Tubungan and its attractions and as part of a broader effort to change perception that the town is unsafe for tourists.

The annual festival celebration offers Tubunganons  a chance to showcase their local culture through performing arts, music, cuisine, and exhibits from different barangays. This year, Tubong-Tubong will open on April 28 (Friday) with a Civic Parade at 7:30 a.m., Opening Program at 9 a.m., Indigenous Game at 4 p.m., Search for Miss Tubong-Tubong Festival 2017 at 7 a.m.; April 29 (Saturday) Sikad Kontra Droga “Tour de Primero: Tubong-Tubong Adventure at 6 a.m., Motorcross Competition at 7 a.m. – 3 p.m., Basic Orientation on Driving Protocol and Tour Guiding at 5 p.m., Broom…BRROOOOM…BRRROOOOOM (A Local Motorcycle and Tricycle Show for Safety Driving) at 6:30 p.m., Paindisanay: Battle of the Best Dance Crew 2017 at 8 p.m.; April 30 (Sunday) Diskubre Igtuble (Launching of Eco-Tourism Adventure Activities) at 8 a.m., TNHS Alumni Night at 7 p.m.;

The most-awaited day is May 1 (Monday) with the Thanksgiving Mass at 8 a.m., Sigabong sa Tubong-Tubong (Battle of Class A Sound Systems) at 9 a.m., Tubong-Tubong Dance Drama Competition at 3 p.m., Awards Night and Fireworks Display at 7 p.m.

Series of special events see the opportunity of bringing together the people and communities that participate in this annual festival reflect a shared common ethnicity, heritage, and identity. Although Tubong-Tubong Festival has expanded over the years and with new events coming in, its historic highlight, its preserved customs and traditions is showcased during their festival performances.

Tubong-Tubong was derived from a Hiligaynon word “tubong” that would mean “to contribute or chip-in.”  People from neighboring Leon, Igbaras and Tigbauan settled peacefully and permanently in the area. Their presence led to its independence from the town of Guimbal in May 1, 1938.

Situated 41.1 kilometers or an hour drive southwest from Iloilo City,  Tubungan is made up of 48 barangays and 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 Tubungan, visitors can take a 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 – Municipal Tourism Officer at 09152893395 or at 3960754.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Katagman Festival: A Magnificent Historic Gem of Oton

Oton, Iloilo will transform to its unique festive atmosphere starting April 28 – May 3, 2017 with the celebration of its Katagman Festival.  The entire history of the town is brought alive with the festival highlight of this annual calendar of events, the inter tribe dance-theater competition on May 3 at 4 p.m.

This festival is celebrated in the very heart of the town. A walk through this historic pueblo, the oldest in Panay, is an unforgettable encounter with series of daily special events starting  April 28 (Friday) Opening of Agri Fair, Garden Fair and Plant Sale at 9 a.m., Mass at 2 p.m., Parade at 4 p.m., Program at 6 p.m., Hiyas Sang Katagman: Coronation Night at 6:30 p.m.; April 29 (Saturday) Katagman Fun Run/ Walk at 5:30 a.m., Take-Off of Fishing Tournament –Fishport at 7 a.m., Lampirong Diving Contest – Fishport at 7 a.m., Laro ng Lahi – Plaza at 8 a.m., Dog Show – Heritage Lagoon at 2 p.m., Search for Ginoong Erpat and Ginang Ermat – Plaza at 6:30 p.m.; April 30 (Sunday) Porma Balas/ Sinadya sa Baybay –Fishport at 7 a.m., Motorboat Race/ Baroto Race – Fishport at 7 a.m., Awarding of Fishing Tournament – Fishport at 7:30 a.m., Lampirong Shelling and Eating Contest – Fishport at 7:30 a.m., Hablon Fashion Show – Multi-Purpose Gym at 6:30 p.m.,

May 1 (Monday) On-the-Spot Painting Contest – Heritage Lagoon at 7:30 a.m., 1st Oton Betta Competition (Fish Exhibit) – Plaza at 9 a.m., Bugal Sang Ogtonganon/ Induction of PCCI Oton Chapter – Sheridan Boutique Resort at 6 p.m.; May 2 (Tuesday) Borador sang Katagman/ Fly -your- kite – OCES Grounds, FITS Day at 8 a.m., Pabalhas sa Katagman at 5 p.m.; May 3 (Wednesday) 445th Foundation Day Mass at 2 p.m., Street Dancing Competition at 4 p.m., Music, Dance and Theater Competition at 6 p.m.

The Chinese gold burial mask of Oton is its icon of the annual Katagman festival celebration. The role it plays is a “mediatory” object through which it is connected to Oton’s history and culture. 

Chinese trade with the locals existed long before the coming of the Spaniards. The products that we traded were yellow wax, cotton, pearls, shells, betel nuts, and yuta cloth made of abaca. It was said that the Chinese on their arrival make their presence felt by beating gongs and the Filipinos, in light boats would come out to trade.

Oton is believed to be one popular site of remarkable Chinese artefacts and many of these artefacts are displayed in local and national museums. The most popular and iconic is the Chinese gold death mask believed to be in the late 14th and 15th century A.D. and found in a grave site somewhere in San Antonio, a barangay of Oton.

Made of finely created gold sheets, the mask covers both eye and a disc that covers the entire nose. The golden mask is part of a burial tradition from a limited group of Filipinos who have had early contacts with Chinese merchants. The southern Chinese is the culture that produced this artefact.

Burial customs are important and masks have often been used in ceremonies associated with the dead and departing spirits. Funerary masks were frequently used to cover the face of the deceased. Generally their purpose was to force the spirit of the newly dead to depart for the spirit world.

Oton’s history remains as the cornerstone upon which Katagman festival's reputation is established. But there is plenty more to this town than meets the eye. Katagman Festival is a magnificent gem of a festival that has built a significant reputation, earning it a place as one of Iloilo's best cultural celebrations each summer.

Approximately 10.2 kilometers south from the city is the municipality of Oton. A First Class town that 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. It has a land are of 8, 456 hectares politically subdivided into 37 barangays.

For more information, please contact Mrs. Irene Otero – Municipal Tourism Officer at 09479954730 or at (033) 3351014.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Gigante Norte Embraces Earthfest

Gigante Norte, Gigantes Islands, Carles, Iloilo will celebrate Earthfest on April 20-22, 2017. With this year’s Earth Day theme “Environmental and Climate Literacy,” Earthfest is a project of the University of the Philippines Visayas Foundation Inc. (UPVFI), the Philippine Life Saving (PLS), the Island Sustainable Development Alliance (ISDA) and the people of Gigantes Islands in Carles, Iloilo.

Climate change information is everywhere. We often hear the term “global warming” in the media; we see images and hear opinions on the matter from people around us. Because of this, many ask and would want to know what it means.

Climate Change is happening now. Our world is warming and extreme weather events are becoming more severe and frequent. These changes have already resulted in a wide range of impacts in every country. Its impacts are felt in  human health,  the food that we eat and agriculture, the water we drink and its supply, in our ecosystems, and others and are expected to become increasingly disruptive.

As the impacts of climate change become more prevalent, we are faced with decisions on how to plan and respond to it.

Earthfest aims at creating environmental and climate literate citizens and prepares them to be ready to take action and be a voice for change. Using a literacy-based approach will provide a sound foundation to build learners' understanding of it.   It will present important information for individuals and the community to understand our climate, impacts of climate change, and ways or approaches for adapting and mitigating change.

Earthfest will help build the foundation for climate-literacy among the people and community in Gigante Norte by becoming climate literate themselves, understanding concepts and provide opportunities for them to make a change in the communities around them.

Series of workshops will be conducted which aim to champion experiences in environment and connection with nature through different kinds of arts as conveyances to environmental conservation and protection. This include Basic Photography, Song Writing, Body Painting, Art for Kids, Terra Cota, Mosaic Art, Mudhouse Basking and Organic Farming. Artists from Maharlika Artists and Writers Federation (MAWF) will facilitate these Earthfest offerings.

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 the new Ceres Terminal in Barangay Camalig, Jaro, Iloilo City. It is politically subdivided into 33 barangays with a land area of 11,202 hectares.

Gigante Norte is considered to be one of the biggest islands in the island chain of the Gigantes. It is separated by a 5-mile channel or a 20-minute pumpboat ride from Gigante Sur.  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.

To get to island, one can take motorized boat ride from Bangkal Fishing Port in the mainland to Gigante Norte with three trips daily starting at 9 am, 11 am and 2 pm.  For more information, please contact Jorge S. Ebay at 09399149857 or Tibor Espinosa of PLS through 09076656565.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Biyernes Santo in Cabatuan: A Day of Religious Sensation

Cabatuan, Iloilo is completely transformed during Holy week. Cabatuananons and visitors, turns out to experience one of its most traditional events to the full. Do not miss the chance to come to Cabatuan at this time of year as visitors share some very special moments in an atmosphere unlike anything you have ever experience during Holy Week.

The town celebrates Holy Week by observing its treasured religious tradition of Pasyon, celebrated as an annual inter-barangay competition every Good Friday.

Pasyon is a narrative book that contains the Life of Jesus Christ with emphasis on His sufferings, death and resurrection and is written in stanzas of five lines of eight syllables. Considered by the faithful as a religious ritual, Pasyon is done by singing in a capella or with the accompaniment of an instrument such as a guitar or a keyboard.

Performers of the rite are seated inside makeshift tents or huts built to hold them. Performers are of various age brackets grouped either in an all-female or a combination of both male and female ensemble all dressed up in traditional Filipino attire.  Performing the Pasyon annually serves as a vow or a Panata for these performers or their families, which in most cases had been passed on from generations back.

Around the Poblacion are Kapiyas or Stations of the Cross. It is another component of Cabatuan’s Lenten tradition competition. Also known as the Way of Sorrows or Via Crucis, series of images that depict Jesus Christ’ final journey to Calvary. All fourteen of them, it starts with Jesus being condemned to death and ends with Jesus being laid in the tomb. All of the figures are made of indigenous materials.

Local devotees travel from station to station, stopping at each to view its life-sized images say a prayer and make reflections.

Religion remains important in the lives of most Filipinos. Although in the recent years, the Filipino youth have become somewhat less religious in certain traditional measures of religious commitment such observing and attending Holy days of obligations.

Lenten traditions are opportunities for everyone to focus on the meaning of true Christian life.  The images that we see and practices that we experience are important reminders that we must keep these religious traditions alive as it is important in teaching the next generation about our shared past. It helps individuals to know more and be closer to their families and places of origin by helping them maintain a sense of connection to their traditions that have been alive for centuries. It makes us understand deeper about our religion and once we have done that, we can follow these traditions for name sake or as our duty.

Cabatuan’s Lenten celebration is special, unique and different. Pasyon in the area is declared to be of tourist interest and once you experience them, you will be longing to return to Cabatuan for Holy Week.

The municipality of Cabatuan is 24.2 kilometers away or a 35 minute drive from the city. With a land area of 8, 248 hectares, the town is politically subdivided into 68 barangays. It is connected to a national highway passing through the towns of Pavia and Sta. Barbara. Four other national roads connect the town to its adjacent municipalities; Alimodian in the south; Maasin in the west; New Lucena in the north-east; and Janiuay in the north where the highway continues northward to Lambunao and Calinog and then to Tapaz, Capiz.

To get to Cabatuan one can take a jeepney or van at the terminal in front of Christ the King Memorial Park in Jaro, Iloilo City. For more information, please contact Mr. Francisco Gonzaga Jr. –Municipal Tourism Officer at 09283649477.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Balay Kogon in Sicogon: A Promise of Pure Relaxation

It is quiet. It is beautiful. And you can have it all to yourself when you make your way towards Balay Kogon in Sicogon Island, Carles, Iloilo.

Balay Kogon nestling in Barangay Buaya, Sicogon Island is a hidden gem. It is another picture perfect description of the northern pearls of Iloilo where the emerald seas contrasts magnificently with the striking stretch of glistening creamy-white sand and blue skies. It is easy to lose track of time as you explore its intimate lodging experience.

Balay Kogon is a family, couple and watersports enthusiast got-it-all resort under the management of Ayala Land Hotels and Resorts, Incorporated. The resort is a top quality family-friendly beachfront resort currently still being developed. Presently, it has three (3) Casas, each having two air-conditioned rooms perfect for couples or to a maximum of four persons. It has a hot and cold bath, a twin bed and a king-sized bed.

Enjoy convivial moments in their dining area that can cater to 24 persons and connects itself the resort’s centrepiece, its viewing deck surrounded by panoramic views. -It has full views of Tomaguin Island and Molopolo. Further along the coast are numerous other island beaches well worth visiting. Among it is the Gigantes Islands. It is also the best site to see sunrise in the island.

Activities around the island can be arranged and includes picnic by the beach, inter-island hop, kayaking, and a trek to Mt. Opao. Board games, yoga mats and beach toys are also available upon request.

For those who crave for a remote island beach accommodation where visitors can take a walk around and discover some empty dreamlike space and add a couple of hammocks strung between trees where your cares will drift away, have a swim or  just sit and admire the sunset, Balay Kogon is a perfect choice.

Named after Cogon, a type of grass found to be abundant in the area, Sicogon Island is a 1,160 hectare island politically subdivided into three (3) barangays, namely Alipata, San Fernando and Buaya. Mt. Opao serves as its backdrop that towers 702 feet and is accessible on foot. Its summit offers a stunning view of its coastline surrounding the island.

Long before the island of Boracay in Malay, Aklan Province became a household name, Sicogon Island was known to be the hub of local and foreign tourists. It was one of Asia’s top tourist destination prior to its closure in the 1980s. In the mid-70s, the island was declared a tourist destination zone by former President Ferdinand Marcos. During its prime, it became home to celebrities and the rich and famous. It had 150 cogon cottages then, a clubhouse, swimming pools, sports facilities, a wharf and an airstrip.

After more than 30 years, Ayala Land Incorporated along with Sicogon Development Corporation is confident in developing the island and making it as the focal point of local and foreign tourists for Western Visayas. By doing so, it can bring economic prosperity not only among the Ilonggos but the people of this region. Sicogon Island Tourism Estate Development was formed.

Balay Kogon in Sicogon Island is accessible by plane from Manila via Roxas City airport or Iloilo International Airport in Cabatuan. By land from Roxas City Airport it is 1.5 hours, from Iloilo International Airport it is 2.45 hours from Estancia, Iloilo. It can be reached the nearest though, around 45 minutes by motorized pumpboat from the Feeder Port of the municipality of Estancia.

For more information, please contact +63 (2) 9595673/ +63 `(917) 8270445 or visit Or contact Mr. Ryan Ybanez, Project Development Manager at 09175975040.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Explore Guimbal Through Bantayan Festival

Guimbal, Iloilo will celebrate its 15th Bantayan Festival on April 4-8, 2017. The community under the leadership of Mayor Oscar Garin enjoys the effort to make this celebration happen each year, allowing the opportunity to share their local history and culture beyond their locality.

All events are family-friendly and fun for all ages. April 4 (Tuesday) Foundation Day Opening, Food Festival and Agro Fair, Liturgical Mass at 2 p.m., Grand Parade with Float and Street Dancing Competition at 3 p.m., Drum Beat Competition at 7 p.m.;  April 5 (Wednesday) Search for Anyag Kang Bantayan at 8 p.m.; April 6 (Thursday) Boat Racing, Pinta Lawas and Canvass Painting Contest at 8 a.m. at Bantayan Beach Resort, Re-enactment of the Moro Raids in Bantayan Beach Resort at 2:30 p.m., 13th Bantayan Film Festival at 8 p.m.; April 7 (Friday) Motorcross in Guimbal River at 8 a.m., Car Show at 4 p.m.,Bantayan Celebrity Night and Intensity Dance Competition; April 8 (Saturday) Festival Day – Tribal Dance Drama Competition at 2 p.m., Merry Making at 5 p.m., Awards Night and Fireworks Competition at 9:30 p.m.

The annual Bantayan Festival celebration becomes not only an intrinsic part of their local culture but also a celebrated art form. This is especially true for dance-drama presentation that continues to hold a special place in the hearts of Guimbalanons. The tribal dance-drama presentations nurture a positive mind-set amongst its people especially the younger generation.

The presentation promotes sharing of local history and culture, bringing out identity of Guimbalanons to its visitors. In the early 17th and 18th century in the Philippines, Muslim pirate havens were established along the central coast, in the Visayas. Many of the settlements including Panay were devoted to piracy.

The Moros of Jolo and Maguindanao on their piratical fleet, the caracoas, swept the coasts of Panay were they ravaged everything. Their towns looted and burned, and their inhabitants carried off as slaves. Some areas were almost completely abandoned by their inhabitants, discouraging settlement.

Parish priests and the townspeople set up their own defences by building watchtowers or Bantayans of stone along the coasts to spread warning signals to the nearby towns. The Bantayans in the streets of Barangays Tuguisan, C. Colon and Pescadores were among the chain of fortifications erected by the Spaniards throughout the area. These Bantayans have become instrumental in securing the area for defense and to protect their peaceful community from constant piratical attacks. The guimba---an ancient instrument that resembled a drum was used by beating it by hand to send messages from Bantayan to Bantayan to warn the community of an incoming raid.

There are many more historic festivals dotted throughout the province of Iloilo, reminding us of our vibrant community and the thriving culture, in spite of the many challenges. If you are exploring local history in Iloilo, festivals are a great start.

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. It has a land area of 44.61 square kilometers politically subdivided into 33 barangays. For more information, please contact Karen Gayanilo-Felicio at 09082865480.

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