Aside from engaging in adventure travel, adventure-seekers including plain tourists kept rolling into festivals featuring religious, seasonal, cultural and historical themes considered as among the most sought-after events in the history of mankind throughout the world.
The reasons of course are obvious. Festivals are the best time of the year when, and the appropriate venue of the country where, devout congregations worship; the carefree merry-makers making as much fun as they can; the shrewd businessmen taking advantage of the well-wishers’ spending mood and; the government and non-government agencies grabbing the opportunity to serve their constituents through fora, exhibits and other civic actions.
Practically, the Gods and deities are honored, the cultural and historical events are recognized and the coming of seasons and start of harvests are celebrated generally by street dancing and other fun-filled activities in all countries comprising the continents of Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe and Australia but not, for obvious reasons, in Antarctica.
In Asia, the world famous Ati-Atihan, which literally means TO BE LIKE AETAS OR MAKE-BELIEVE ATIS, Festival kicks-off on the 13th and ends on the 20th of January, 2013 in the capital City of Kalibo, Province of Aklan situated in Panay Island, Philippines. Done to rejoice the arrival or gift of the Santo Niño (Infant Jesus) by the Spanish-commissioned Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan to the native Queen of the neighboring island of Cebu in 1521, the Ati-Atihan is dubbed as THE FILIPINO MARDIS GRAS. Considered as the wildest among the Philippine fiestas, the week-long festivity culminates with a street dancing with celebrants painting their faces and body parts in many different ways to make themselves look like the Aetas or Atis referred to in history books as the indigenous natives of the island. Wearing attractive and colorful costumes and donning indigenous weapons, the participants dance on the rhythms of the drums with the tourists joining the hyperactive merriment on the streets thereby resembling that of the Mardi Gras Celebration in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
Other festivals held in the first month of the year throughout the world are shown in the cool graphic guide below:
I have heared from a lot of friends that the present leadership of Mayor Alfredo Matugas Corro II in the town of Del Carmen, in Siargao Island, which adjacenht to Bucas Grande Island, has lined-up a number of activites, among them green events, for their 376th Annual Town Fiesta Celebration. Such news were validated when my good friend Engr. Rolando Ruaya, Del Carmen Municipal Engineer and colleague in the Board of Directors of Siargao Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SIARELCO) who invited me to come for their fiesta celebration and witness the Bakhaw or Mangrove Festival . Being a green events aficionado, I accepted his invitation without batting an eye lash.
From the Socorro Port in Bucas Grande Island, I took a passenger motorized boat and traveled for one hour cruising through a placid channel towards the town of Dapa- the gateway and commercial center of Siargao Island. From there, I hired a passenger motorcycyle locally termed habal-habal. After a 30-minute travel on a newly-completed Portland Cement Concrete Pavement (PCCP), we reached Barangay Sayak, Del Carmen and, upon chancing massive construction works going-on in Siargao Airport, I told the driver to head left and see for myself what’s up in the said spot. As we stopped at the airport grounds, this sight greeted my eyes . . .
Greetings from Del Carmen Mayor Alfredo Matugas Coro II; Surigao del Norte Governor Sol F. Matugas and Siargao Congressman Francisco T. Matugas prominently displayed at the Siargao Airport arrival area warmly welcoming guests and visitors to Siargao Island.
I then took shots of the existing terminal building as well as the new terminal building under construction . . .
The existing Siargao Airport Terminal Building . . .
. . . and the modern Siargao Airport Terminal Building on its finishing touches.
I cannot help but admire the Php 25 Million-worth upgrading of Siargao Airport Project due for inauguration on September 20, 2011 with no less that His Excellency Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III being invited as the guest of honor . . .
The state-of-the-art control tower, terminal building and other facilities of Siargao Airport eyeing to achieve the distinction as the most modern airport in Mindanao Island.
Afterwards, we traveled for another 15 minutes until we reached the Del Carmen town center and stopped at the foot of this imposing welcome arch displaying the theme of one of the fiesta celebrations’s green events, the Bakhaw Festival . . .
An arch welcoming the guests and visitors to the 376th Annual Town Fiesta Celebration in Honor of Patron Saint Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
While strolling on various parts of the poblacion, I chanced upon folks gazing intently at the roster of green events and fiesta celebrations within the town jurisdiction displayed prominently at the port area. . .
A tarpauline announcing the various fiesta and green events in Del Carmen
The Bakhaw Festival kicked-off at the Del Carmen Port at exactly 2:00 in the afternoon. A spectacular street dancing among the 5 contestant-delegations plus the LGU-Del Carmen dancers ensued at the major town thoroughfare followed by stationary dance renditions in front of the Roman Catholic Church. The contingents then headed towards the Numancia Central Elementary School oval grounds for the grand finale presentation.
During his speech, Mayor Alfredo M. Coro explained in detail that Siargao Island has a total mangrove forest area of 8,620 hectares, in which, a single mangrove forest block consisting of 4,200 hectares serving as home to a variety of flora and fauna including the engandered saltwater crocodile, is found in the municipality of Del Carmen. He stressed the need for the populace to conserve the mangroves for the present and future generations. And, to drive mangrove conservation awareness into the townfolks psyche, the Bakhaw or Mangrove Festival was undertaken 4 years ago and every year thereafter with this year’s activity bearing the theme Bakhaw Festival: A Celebration To Attain A Socially, Economically and Environmentally Stable Del Carmen. . .
The young Mayor Alfredo M. Corro II exhorting the people to capture the messages to be delivered by the Bakhaw Festival performers.
After the declaration of the official start of the green events, story lines were read by the participating performers. Then, drums rolled. . . bugles barked . . .lyers sounded with performers in colorful dance costumes executing dance steps in various dance routines in accordance with the dance choreography. The concepts of all the six performing groups focused on the need to preserve the town’s mangrove forests and appealing for the intercession of Our Lady of Mount Carmel to help the local folks in their efforts to save the mangrove ecosystem.
The LGU-Del Carmen performers during their exhibition performance. . .
The LGU-Del Carmen performers depicting the star dancer on a banca ride cruising the mangrove forest driving home the point to Save Mangroves, Save Water, Save Trees, Save Lives!
Then came the first contestant- performers from the Don Mariano Matugas Memorial High School together with the first 10 barangays of Del Carmen namely: Antipolo, Bitoon, Cabugao, esperanza, Katipunan, Lobogon, Mahayahay, Quezon, Sayak and Tuboran.
The 1st Contestant-group on their best performance earning for them the 3rd Prize and Best in Street Dancing Award.
Contestant No. 2- performers from Del Carmen National High School (DCNHS) with another 10 barangays of Del Carmen (Pob.), San Jose (Pob.), Caub, Halian, Cancohoy, Domoyog, San Fernando, Bagacay, Mabuhay and Jamoyaon followed suit. . .
The 2nd Contestant-performers in one of their best performances which catapulted them to the Championship Prize and Best in Choreography Award.
Contestant number 3- performers from Oguing Navarro Memorial National High School (ONMNHS) with the Allied Agencies also made sure that they would not be left behind . . .
Performers belonging to Contestant No. 3 paying homage to the image of Our Lady Of Mount Carmel.
The 2nd to the last contestant- performers from the Numancia Central Elementary School representing the Department of Education East and West Districts also tried their very best not to be outdone by the other performers . . .
Contestant No. 4 performers on their best rendition. . .
Finally, contestant No. 5 comprising performers from Siargao College of Science and Technology (SNCST) showed up determined to show their dancing prowess . . .
The 2nd Prize, Most Disciplined and Best in Costumes Award-winning performance of Contestant No. 5 depicting the endangered saltwater crocodile attacking an abusive fishermen caught destroying the Del Carmen mangrove ecosystem.
Green Events – Final Thoughts
Fairs and festivals veterans have had expressed their valid concerns on the degradation of the once highly-esteemed festivals into a common phenomena nowadays. While there are lots of festivals whose significance had passed the test of time, others are just absurd events with some of them dying down on their natural death right after the maiden presentation. But the Bakhaw Festival in Del Carmen, Siargao Island, Philippines is one of a kind. Its uniqueness rests on being a festival celebrating nature and its bounties. It is an annual undertaking destined to be catapulted into one of the best festivals and green events in the country that is worthy of your visit in the very near future.
Fairs and festivals started as celebrations to honor God and deities such as in religious festivals, the coming of seasons as in summer festivals, the start of harvests like the harvest festivals and to showcase various art forms like the film festival and music festivals and are generally characterized by street dancing to the tune of street dance music with performers in colorful dance costumes executing dance steps in various dance routines in accordance with the dance choreography. As people, among them the island vacations enthusiasts, assemble in a mood to spend for relaxation and enjoyment, smart individuals saw these events as opportunity to do business by installing shops and stalls in the vicinity. Later on, cultural programs and fun-filled activities were organized. Then, government and non-government organizations set-up forums, exhibits, and civic actions. Thus, fairs and festivals became venues where worshippers worship, the merry-makers making fun, the businessmen doing business and the government and other sectors trying their best to catch the attention of the masses.
Fairs and Festivals – the Bucas Grande Experience
While fairs and festivals in general have religious and seasonal themes, others have cultural and historical significance. These occasions could be the day institutions are founded or any other event which the community decides to commemorate periodically. Such is the case of the “Tinabangay” Festival in Bucas Grande Island, Socorro, Surigao del Norte, Philippines held on the 22nd day of February every year in time for the town’s foundation day. Nevertheless, of all fairs and festivals, the one in Socorro stands out to be forever unique for 3 compelling reasons.
Its Historical Fervor. The Bucas Grande fairs and festivals trace the history facts of the island municipality. You can see street dancers from participating contingents depicting the coming into the island of scores of families searching for greener pastures from the island of Leyte in the Visayas in 1919 being joyfully welcomed by the natives of then Sitio Bunga. Further, you can witness the performers portraying the heroism of the local men responding to the shout of “Socorro” from the church workers accompanying a Spanish priest pleading for “help” as the sailboat they were riding towards the place was battered by gigantic waves and on the verge of capsizing in one Sunday morning of 1920. Furthermore, you can see dancers illustrating the local defenders fighting a one-sided battle against the Philippine Constabulary forces assisted by the mighty US Marines backed up by ”USS Sacramento” warship in 1924 on mere suspicion that they were members of a “colorum” or unregistered society founded to rebel against the government. Finally, you can watch the street dancers characterizing the lowly Socorronhons being shouted at as “colorums ” and “mad men” by the people from the neighboring towns in the aftermath of the 1924 Colorum Uprising.
Its Cultural Theme. The Socorro fairs and festivals features the people helping people culture of the place, hence, the term “Tinabangay” in the local dialect and “Bayanihan” in the Filipino language. Here you can see dancers depicting their forebears who, in response to the derisive and ridiculous remarks from their neighbors, had decided to form into a cohesive community thereby giving birth to the “Tinabangay” activity in the later part of the 1940’s, wherein, each and every able-bodied Socorronhon has to live the privacy of his life for one whole month or exactly 30 days in a year and offer his labor services for free in the house construction and collective farming activities with the house and farm owners only shouldering the food and material cost. Relative thereto, you can witness the performers portraying the actuations of various sectors in an actual “tinabangay” with one sector in full gear performing carpentry works, others doing masonry works, the rest depicting as labor assistants, the farmers tilling the land and harvesting crops, fishermen catching fish as viands for the laborers and most importantly, the lovely ladies taking turns preparing the most nutritious and delicious foods as a means of easing the weariness of the workers.
Its Festive and Service Mood. The Bucas Grande event is not only a plain festival but an annual fair for the entire island municipality. You can witness the shops and stalls selling handicrafts, garments notably the used clothing popularly known as “ukay-ukay” and other wares being set up to let people go on a little shopping spree. You can also view fun-filled activities for children and grown-ups being undertaken, cultural programs including magic and puppet shows being organized to regale the crowd and joyful competitions being done to enhance public participation. Further, you can take part in the medical-dental mission sponsored by the municipal and provincial governments as well as the blood-letting sponsored by the local medical technologists’ society. In the latter part of the day, you can participate the “Harog Festival” and gaily feast on the porridge in more than a thousand large kettles being lined along the major streets in the town center prepared by the various people’s organizations, schools and agencies for free to the well-wishers. Finally, you can savor the customary fireworks display in the later part of the night done in the town square to signal the end of the fairs and festivals in Bucas Grande.
Fairs and Festivals – Final Opinion
Fairs and festivals help to celebrate and showcase the rich history and culture of the place through arts, music and fun. It provides men, women and children from all walks of life the occasion and opportunity to make new friendships and renew old ones. It is all about celebrating, partying, eating, shopping, establishing relationships and merry-making. The fun and frolic at the fairs and festivals in Socorro can only be experienced rather than explained. So come, visit Bucas Grande and savor the uniqueness of its fairs and festivals.
The Barangay Navarro Contingent - last Tinabangay Festival's Champion displaying their stationary dance prowess at the Socorro Feeder Port.
The Barangay Taruc Contingent in their 2nd Runner-Up Winning Performance
The Barangay Nueva Estrella Contingent in their awe-inspiring presentation
The Barangay Sering dancers in their display of well-choreographed stationary dance
Socorro's former Mayor and incumbent Surigao del Norte Provincial Board Member, Hon. Mamerto D. Galanida, Ed. D. getting his cup of "harog" or porridge from a student of Socorro National High School.
Part and parcel of more than a thousand kettles filled with "harog" lined-up in the major streets of the town center.
Close-up view of the porridge locally called "harog," with rice, mung bean, gabi, cassava, sweet potato, squash with coconut milk as major ingredients, which is a popular snacks for the laborers after a day's work in the Tinabangay activities.
Socorro National High School students getting the "harog" ready for the festival
The "harog" servers getting ready for the start of the "Harog" Festival.
Portion of the major town center thoroughfare filled with "Harog" Festival revelers on a festive mood- a site to behold in the Bucas Grande Fairs and Festivals.