Sunday, January 28, 2018

Hirinugyaw-Suguidanonay: A Festival with an Authentic Ilonggo Spirit

Calinog, Iloilo will celebrate its Hirinugyaw – Suguidanonay Festival, an ever-popular fixture on the local festival circuit in the province from January 26 till February 4, 2017. It is an event that attracts visitors from all over the province who are looking for an authentic festival experience.

With the theme, “Hugyaw Calinog: Pagtu-o kay Senor Sto. Nino Pagahimpiton, Turismo Pasanyugon agud Banwa Mainuswagon,” the festival will highlight the vibrant colour, lively music and the town’s strong cultural ties with its Panay Bukidnon or Sulodnon indigenous group of almost 13 barangays.

The town plays a very important role in the culture of the Ilonggos, and while most of the population have adopted the traditions that were brought to the area by the Spanish conquistadors, there is also an indigenous culture to be found in its upland barangays. One of the interesting aspects is that in the case is the annual Hirinugyaw – Suguidanonay Festival celebrated annually with a combination of Catholic Christian and indigenous religious beliefs.

Inspired from what is known to be one of the longest epic in the world, Hinilawod translated in English as “Tales from the Mouth of the Halawod River,” is an folk epic poem written by the early inhabitants from the Panay Bukidnon tribe. This 8,340-verse epic is transferred orally from one generation to the next through chanting, locally known as Suguidanon. And when performed in its original form would take about three days, making it a literary masterpiece.

The epic poem is also very good source of information about the Sulodnons’ culture, religion and rituals and is depicted annually in chapters assigned during the Suguidanon presentation of the annual festival. This year, tribes will perform Balankon, a two-headed monster, the guardian of the ridge where his beloved, Lubay-Lubyok Hanginon si Mahuyokhuyokan lives and is narrated in the epic under the Adventures of Dumalapdap.

The second part of the tribal dance presentation is the Hirinugyaw where, just like the city’s Dinagyang celebration performance, it anchors on the religious aspect, the Holy Child Jesus is honoured in thunderous drumbeats and colourful costumes. Dancers move out in fast-paced, rhythmic steps, with voluble shouts of joy. Hirinugyaw is from a Hiligaynon word hugyaw that means to cheer.

The festival tribal dance competition takes place in the weekend after the city’s Dinagyang event, February 4 (Sunday) at 8 a.m. is considered without a doubt, the largest, most enjoyable and one of the more famous and authentic of all held in in the province.

The grand displays performed by each tribe in traditional dress have proved to be very popular among visitors, while there is also plenty of chance to share in local traditional food. Guests who will visit the scenic town of Calinog during the Hirinugyaw-Suguidanonay Festival would be privileged, and to share the celebration makes for a very special reason to be there.

Calinog is a First-Class municipality situated in the central portion of the province, bounded in the north by the municipality of Tapaz, Capiz; northeast by the municipality of Bingawan, Iloilo; northeast by the municipality of San Remegio, Antique; south by the town of Lambunao, Iloilo; southeast by the municipality of Dueńas, Iloilo and; southwest by the town of Valderama, Antique. The town is 59.3 kilometers away or an hour and 20-minute drive from Iloilo City. Politically subdivided into 59 barangays, it has a land area of 3,280 hectares.

To get to the town, one can take a non-air-conditioned bus at the terminal beside Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines plant in Ungka, Pavia. For more information, please contact Chester Larroder – Municipal Tourism Officer at 09159781887.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Celebrating SAAD with Immense Faith

Leganes, Iloilo celebrates their festival on the 25th January well connected to their Patron Saint and His believers with the immense passion, big enthusiasm and fun filled activities. The whole community becomes involve in the celebration, marking the birth of their beloved religious icon, St. Vincent Ferrer. 

His feast day holds lots of religious importance for the Christians and is celebrated with great fervour. The entire community do feasts, prayers and processions while observing His festivity. 

Saad, a Hiligaynon word for a “solemn vow,” where the faithful congregate during the festivity’s Mass is an attraction. Devotees are from far south and far north of the province. There are also believers coming in from other neighboring provinces.

Devotees flood to the church to offer their prayers to ask God that San Vicente will help them in their problems. After the Mass, the faithful would then undergo the Palapak, a ritual where devotees would line up while a small statue of the image of the saint is pressed on their heads or on the part of the body needing help believing that a spiritual cure will happen. Those who entrusted their faith through the saint are hopeful that what they have asked for, mostly to be healed from their illnesses will be granted. This had been a cultural religious practice since then.

Leganesnons express their devotion to St. Vincent Ferrer through music and dance with the much-anticipated competition on January 25 at 5p.m. They use the Saad Dance-Drama presentation to represent their beliefs in honouring the “Angel of Healing,” St. Vincent Ferrer because of his gift to cure the sick.

Saad dance combines rectilinear and circular movements that may also include hopping, jumping, and hand movements. Hand movements are widely used in many liturgical actions of the dance such as the touching of holy objects and their accompanying prayers and blessings.  The raising of hands in prayer, kneeling as an expression of humility, and the bow as an intimated genuflection generally indicates respect. The gesture of blessing may imitate a symbolic form, such as that of the Holy Cross.

Symbolism plays a big role in the dance presentation, and Leganesnons chose to reflect that symbolism through their various dance routines and presentations. The Palapak is also re-enacted into the dance choreography.

Much of the music has a definite local flavour using a medley of old Hiligaynon favourites where dancers in traditional Filipino costumes and wearing  scapulars dance with joy to praise their patron and ends with shouts of "San Vicente Ferrer, Igampo Mo Kami!"

Leganes is a Fourth Class municipality in the Second Congressional District of the province. It borders the city of Iloilo in the south; Pavia in the southeast; Santa Barbara in the west and, Zarraga in the north. Approximately 11 kilometers or a 30-minute drive north from the city, it is politically sub-divided into 18 coastal and agricultural barangays over a land area of 3, 216 hectares.

To get to Leganes, visitors can take a jeepney at Jaro Plaza. For more information, please contact Jerry Anas – Municipal Tourism Officer or email at (033) 3296622 local 114 or email at

Monday, January 15, 2018

Bayluhay: A Beautiful Expression of San Joaquin’s Unique Character

San Joaquin, Iloilo, already renowned for its strong cultural ties, its vivacious colours and lively music, Bayluhay tend to pull out all the stops when it comes to festivals. From days of traditional bull fighting and special events, the town immerses its visitors to its rich local culture, a beautiful expression of the town’s unique character.

Bayluhay, to be set this year on January 18 (Thursday) at 2 p.m. draws on diverse cultural traditions. It showcases a mixture of indigenous rituals and local traditions and customs. These include the native culture of the Borneans that inhabited the area prior to the arrival of the Spanish whose presence derives from a long history of Christianization.

Bayluhay, coined from the Hiligaynon word Baylo meaning to barter or to exchange is an annual tribal dance competition that highlights the folk history of the re-enactment of the historic barter based on the Maragtas Legend. It was said that sometime between the 13th and 15th century, ten Shri-Vijayan Datus led by the Sultanate Minister Datu Puti, together with Datus Bangkaya, Dumalugdog,  Sumakwel, Lubay, Paiburong, Dumangsil, Balensusa, Paduhinog and Dumangsol, along with their families and followers boarded their balangays or boats and sailed across the Sulu Sea on their quest for the Promise Land.

The group skirted to the southern tip of the island of Panay and landed in Siruanga (Siwaragan River in San Joaquin) where they met the Ati (Aeta) Chieftain Marikudo and his wife Maniwantiwang. They had peaceful intentions with the natives, and later entered into a trade alliance and negotiated the purchase of Panay Island. The Borneans bartered the lowlands, plains and valleys for a golden Salakot and a Manangyad or golden necklace said to have touched the ground. After the transaction was sealed, the Atis were believed to have retired to the mountains and the Malay took complete control of the lowlands.

The performance also explores on the rich ancient rituals practised by our early ancestors who believe that Spirits dwell in many natural features such as trees, rivers and mountains that is why various forms of offerings were made to appease the spirits. Places where malign spirits were believed to dwell were avoided. The preservation of these traditions were observed spirituality and in their communal way of life.

Bayluhay is San Joaquin’s annual appreciation and recognition of its historic past. Every Ilonggo must celebrate it to honour our rich culture and tradition. It is our way to connect to our past that had made us what we are today. 

San Joaquin is a Second Class municipality, the last town south of the province. It is 85- kilometer away or an hour and twenty minute drive from the city. With a total land area of 23,135 hectares, the town is subdivided into 85 barangays.

To get to San Joaquin, visitors can take a jeepney at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary Terminal in Barangay Mohon, Oton, Iloilo or at the market terminal along Mabini St. in Iloilo City. Metered taxis are also available. For more information, please contact Erlyn Alunan – Municipal Tourism Officer at 09085129189.

Celebrating History and Culture with San Joaquin’s Pasungay

San Joaquin, Iloilo, as a grand opening salvo for its Religious Fiesta, thousands of people will descend on this historic town keen to be spectators of the annual Pasungay---carabao or water buffalo fight held as part of an ancient tradition celebrated every 3rd Saturday of January.

This annual action-packed cultural event at the San Joaquin Sports Stadium situated at the back of the Municipal Hall draws in local and foreign visitors yearly to witness bulls pitted against each other.

Huge crowd watch in awe and cheers as breeders lead their mighty and robust carabaos into the fight arena.  The first fight starts as the pair, itching to fight, attack, locking each other’s horns and trying to push each other until one gives up and flee from the pursuing winner. Another pair takes their place. A horse fight or Pahibag is an added attraction as horses kick and bite each other to submission in front of a mare, or female horse, displayed purposely to trigger the fight.

The fight normally goes on for less than half an hour until one or the other collapses or is simply too exhausted to continue.

The participating animals were from cattle breeders mostly from the upland barangays, renowned for rearing tough bulls responsible for most wins in the history of this cultural celebration. Although less violent than its foreign counterpart, the animals in the Pasungay are not killed or seriously injured.

Whether you like it or not - agree with it or despise it - bullfighting exists in San Joaquin and is an important part of their history and culture. The town has always been famous for its Pasungay. There is no other place in the region where bullfighting is observed. It is the most common thing associated with San Joaquin, and rightly so for its origins date back to early 1900s. It is only during the religious fiesta celebration of the town that the general interest for Pasungay and Pahibag is aroused. During the next days, a huge festival happens of this town. Locals and visitors mix in the town streets for the annual Bayluhay Festival.

San Joaquin is a Second Class municipality, the last town south of the province. It is 85- kilometer away or an hour and twenty minute drive from the city. With a total land area of 23,135 hectares, the town is subdivided into 85 barangays.

To get to San Joaquin, visitors can take a jeepney at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary Terminal in Barangay Mohon, Oton, Iloilo or at the market terminal along Mabini St. in Iloilo City. Metered taxis are also available. For more information, please contact Erlyn Alunan – Municipal Tourism Officer at 09085129189.

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