The day before Ash Wednesday February / March / Paoay, Ilocos Norte Guling-Guling was introduced by the Spanish friars in the 16th century as a means for the religious sector to interact with its parishioners. It has always been celebrated on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday because it was believed that this was the last day for the townsfolk to enjoy all forms of merrymaking before they observe the Lenten season. Guling comes from the Ilocano word meaning to mark, smear or make a sign. In the olden days, the chieftain (now mayor) of the town would imprint the sign of the cross on a person’s forehead using wet, white rice flour. The color white was significant in that it meant purity. Through this marking, a person was cleansed of all his past sins. Picture from: Pinoy Photography HOW IT IS CELEBRATED. As soon as they wake up, the Paoayenos do their colorful traditional clothing. The women dress up in their abel (hand woven material) kimona and pandiling, with matching heirloom jewelry and other accessories. For the men, it is the kamisa de Chino and abel trousers. Husbands and wives usually have matching outfits. Traditionally, the townsfolk dance their way to the place where dudol is made. There you will find the anawang, a makeshift oven made from dried sugar cane pulp. They are then met by the town mayor who imprints the sign of the cross (guling) on their forehead. The locals believe that it is a sign of bad luck not to have this guling. After this ritual, the crowd partakes of dudol and basi. The parade then continues to the Church, the streets and finally, to the town plaza where the merrymaking reaches its peak. Anybody can dance with whomever they please. The evening is filled with music, laughter and gaiety. DANCE PARADE. During the Guling-guling celebration, the paoayenos dance like there is no tomorrow. They dance with those whom they have had petty squabbles as a means of forgiving them for these past misunderstandings. For the townsfolk, this is a time to forgive and to have a good time with everyone. The folk dances such as the Sabunganay, Poayena, Ariquen-quen, Curatsa, Amorosa, Pandanggo and La Jota are lively and delightful. The intricate steps and hand movements (kumintang) depict the traits of courtesy, gentleness, patience and perseverance. The occupational dances like the Binat-batan and the Agab-abel are indicative of the industrious and thrifty character of the people. Picture from: Flickr dot com DUDOL. Dudol is a native delicacy made from rice flour (bel-laay), coconut milk, sugarcane juice and anis. The secret to making a good dudol is to keep stirring the ingredients under a slow fire. During the celebration the crowd proceeds to the place where dudol is made to partake of this delicacy. It is shared with family, friends and all their guests. BASI. Basi comes from sugarcane extract and samak, a plant commonly grown in Ilocos region. The juice from sugarcane stalks are collected and boiled in large, open kettles. The brew is poured into earthen jars (burnays) and, once it reaches room temperature, the samak leaves, bark and fruit are added. The mixture is stirred and poured into a jar that is tightly covered with banana leaves to allow fermentation. After the aging period, the basi is then transferred to bottles. Basi is the official drink of the Guling-Guling merrymakers because of its enervating effect.
Every First week of March / Pagsanjan, Laguna. The “Pagsanjan Bangkero Festival” is held every first week of March and it features exciting events on water and land like the “palarong bangkero” (fluvial parade and exhibitions), street dancing, drum and lyre band competition, chorale fest, cultural night, trade fair, sports events among others. The ‘Pagsanjan Bangkero Festival’ is inspired by and dedicated to all the bangkeros (boatmen) in Pagsanjan. These boatmen impress one with his skill and dexterity in maneuvering his boat upstream “against wild rapids and amidst a pristine panorama of lush, virgin forest.” Picture from: Flickr dot com
second half of February to March 10/ Malaybalay City, Bukidnon Showcasing the unique indigenous culture of Bukidnon, the Kaamulan is held annually in the province, particularly in Malaybalay City, the provincial capital, from the second half of February to March 10, which latter date marks the anniversary of the creation of Bukidnon as a province in 1917. As an ethnic festival, the Kaamulan celebrates the customs and traditions of the seven tribal groups that originally inhabited the Bukidnon region, namely, the Bukidnon, Higaonon, Talaandig, Manobo, Matigsalug, Tigwahanon and Umayamnon. Several tribal folks representing these seven hill tribes of Bukidnon gather in unity with the local dwellers in town, wearing their intricately woven costumes studded with trinkets, anklets, earrings, necklaces, leglets, headdresses and amulets. They dance together, chant, perform ancient rituals, and compete in indigenous sports. Graced by cultural groups whose ways have remained unchanged throughout the centuries, the Kaamulan is characterized by the authentic rituals with real indigenous peoples. There is thePangampo (general worship), the Tagulambong hu Datu (ritual for the installation of a Chieftain), the Panumanod (a spiriting ceremony), the Panlisig(rite to drive away evil spirits), and the Pamalas (sin atonement ritual) among others. Each activity is a meaningful ceremony that reflects the richness and diversity of the Bukidnon culture. Integrated into the festival are activities designed to fuse the different sectors in the provincial community as a whole. The events which have been institutionalized over the years of celebrating the Kaamulan include the Civic Parade; the much-awaited Street-dancing Competition with contingents coming from the respective municipalities and cities of the province; the Laga Ta Bukidnon where beautiful ladies from within the province vie for the title; programs reminiscent of the historic beginnings of Bukidnon and its tribal oral traditions; and, the Ethnic Dance Clinic. Furthermore, the present Kaamulan has evolved throughout the years and does not only highlight Bukidnon’s ethnic groups but also the products and local establishments that abound in the province. These are displayed in the Garden Show, Food Fest, Kaamulan Bazaar, Agri-fair, and Livestock Show. Crowd-drawing events such as the Motocross, Off-road Competition, Rodeo, Amateur Boxing, Invitational Basketball Tournament, Adventure Races, concerts, and several others are also roped into the festivity. To the hill tribes, Kaamulan heralds the symbolic breakthrough of their long quest for meaning and identity. And to the new generation, the old local folks and even visiting foreigners, the Kaamulan has become an avenue for the recognition and appreciation of Bukidnon’s unraveled cultural legacy carefully preserved by the traditional population. Truly, the Kaamulan is an interesting ground for the unification of the people of Bukidnon… one that converges the past and the present, celebrates its rich culture and inspires its people. Picture from: Suroy Pilipinas
ARYA! ABRA FESTIVAL
Second week of March / Bangued, Abra Arya Abra Festival is a celebration of the province of Abra’s individuality. It is a week-long celebration that showcases various sectors/groups in the province. Each day is offered to a particular group of persons as a way of honoring them for what they have done for the province of Abra. The Arya Abra festivity is a week-long great exercise, not just for attracting tourists but also to enlighten all Abreños to take pride in the heritage and rich culture of their province. Abra’s biggest festival highlights are: “Karerakit” bamboo rafting along Calaba River and Tinguan Festival of the tribal natives of Abra; it also includes the usual karambola, horse race, youth day, farmers day and veterans day celebrations. This festival is a celebration of ABRA identity. Picture from: Philippine Paradise Pages
March 16 / Tagbilaran City, Bohol Sandugo Festival is basically held in remembrance of the historic blood compact between Datu Sikatuna, who was known to be one of the earliest leaders of the country, with the famous Spanish conquistador General Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. This amicable act was initiated to formalize and establish what was once a very promising and lasting friendship between the local residents and the visiting party. This historic event made a major impact on the lives of Filipinos up to this very moment, especially in terms of civilization, culture, and religion. As a place known for its very rich culture and tradition, Bohol takes Sandugo Festival as well as the other annual festivities seriously. Solemn church ceremonies, colorful street parades, and exciting beauty pageants are some of the many major highlights that visitors and guests can witness at the event. At the same time, various sports events, cockfighting tournaments, and fireworks add glamour and excitement to this solemn tradition. Lastly, be sure not to miss special events like the Miss Beauty Sandugo pageant, a reenactment of the history Blood Compact, and the street-dancing contest when attending the Sandugo Festival in Bohol. Pictures from: Marsman Tours
KESONG PUTI FESTIVAL
mid March / Sta. Cruz, Laguna The kesong puti or white cheese that originated from Sta. Cruz Laguna is becoming popular to food lovers. In fact, a festival is held every year in Sta Cruz Laguna for this cheese. The Keso Festival that last for nine days is held in honor of this product. Different activities lined up in this celebration that include trade fair, food festival, cultural shows, street dancing, painting contest, beauty pageant and with highlight on the kesong puti, made from carabao milk, fermented and wrapped in banana leaves. picture from: Laguna Travel Guide
March 18-19; Baco, Mindoro Oriental. A celebration of the abundance of bananas. It features a banana cook fest and a “saba”-(type of banana)-inspired street dancing competition and beauty pageant. This coincides with the town fiesta in honor of St. Joseph. Picture from: Jox Cam
March 18-19 / Canlaon City, Negros Oriental A combined word of “Pasalamat Pinaagi sa Sayaw” (a thanksgiving through dance). This Pasayaw expresses the joys and jubilations in praise and thanksgiving to the Almighty God through the intercession of St. Joseph. On the 19th at 12:00 noon is the “PASAYAW STREET DANCING & PARADE” participated in by 12 contingents from the 12 barangays dancing to the uniform LATIN BEAT followed by a SHOWDOWN competition at 6:00 pm at the city gym. Picture from: Philippine Paradise Pages
March 22 / Lala, Lanao del Norte A festival to celebrate “Araw ng Lala” featuring displays of different sizes of alimango (crab). Also features native costumes, native dances and contests depicting and promoting local culture and tradition and fluvial parade passing through unspoiled mangroves. Other months full with fiestas?