KINABAYO FESTIVAL: Dapitanon’s Way of Honoring St. James the Greater

When I hear the word Dapitan, the first thing that comes to my mind is the National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. In fact, Rizal has become synonymous to Dapitan as this city became his home when he was exiled in Mindanao. But there’s more to Dapitan than just Pepe.

While the City is best known for its rich history, it is also home to some grand celebrations and festivals the city hosts every year. One of these is the Kinabayo Festival, a colourful celebration staged every year in honor of the city’s patron saint, Saint James the Greater, who is also the patron saint of the entire Spain.

Dapitan City is among the first territories in Mindanao colonized by Spaniards. Aside from the deep Catholic faith, the colonizers left the Dapitanons with a very extraordinary and unique legacy – the tradition and pageantry of Kinabayo Festival which was celebrated even back in the olden days. Kinabayo is a unique festival re-enacting the Spanish-Moorish wars particularly the Battle of Covadonga.

During the early years of the Spanish rule, Dapitan was still flooded by Moro pirates. To protect the Dapitanons from an attack of Moro invaders, the Jesuit priests made St. James the Greater as their patron saint with a strong faith that the Patron Saint will protect the town and the people from the invaders. Back in the fifth century in Spain, it was believed that there was an apparition of St. James the Greater riding a horse carrying a sword guiding the Spanish Christians to win the battle against the Moors in the Battle of Covadonga. After three centuries, St. James the Greater played the same part this time in the lives of the Dapitanons.

For quite some time now, Kinabayo Festival of Dapitan has become one of the most celebrated festivals in the whole Zamboanga Del Norte. Dapitanons have remained faithful to their devotion to their patron Saint and Kinabayo Festival is their great way of honouring him.

Celebrated on the feast day, July 25, a magnificent re-enactment of the Battle of Covadonga is staged before the city folk and a sea of tourists. Thousands of residents would gather at the city center not just to be entertained by the number of events lined up for the festival but also to show their devotion to their patron saint.

Kinabayo Festival has also become the most visited season in Dapiatn City. The celebration attracts tourists – both local and foreign – to come to the southern region to experience culture and tradition embedded in Kinabayo Festival. And those who come here, they don’t only enjoy the festivities but also got to enjoy the many amazing destinations Dapitan City has to offer.

Apart from Kinabayo Festival, Dapitan City is renowned being the home of Dakak Beach Resort, the most famous beach resort in Zamboanga Peninsula. Aside from Dakak, the city also hosts the Rizal Shrine and Park, a 16-hectare property where national hero Jose Rizal was exiled from 1892 to 1896. This has garnered the city as the Shrine City of Mindanao. Dapitan also houses the only Disney-themed family and recreational park in Mindanao, the Gloria’s Fantasyland de Dapitan.

Shout out of gratitude to the LGU of Dapitan City for the invitation for the Kinabayo Festival most especially to Ms. Apple Marie Agolong, the City Tourism Officer. Same goes my to travel buddy Ida Nanette Damo of ChoosePhilippines for her letting me use of her photos in the post. Daghang salamat! Viva Senior Santiago!

TAWI-TAWI’S AGAL-AGAL FESTIVAL | The Philippines’ Only Seaweed Festival

The Province of Tawi-Tawi is considered as the biggest producer of Seaweed Powder in the country. Because of its significance to the livelihood of the people and the economy of the Province, one grand celebration is made every year as tribute to its great value. This is the Agal-agal Festival which is said to be the only Seaweed Festival in the country. It is derived from the word Agal-Agal which is the local term for seaweed in the Sulu Archipelago.

The staging of AGAL-AGAL FESTIVAL coincides with the Kamahardikaan Sin Tawi-Tawi or the Founding Anniversary of the Province which happens every 25th of September. This year, the celebration was held in the town of Languyan, one of the 11 towns of Tawi-Tawi.Agal-Agal Festival shows how the community value the importance of the seaweed industry which has been part of their living. Being a Province composed of island towns surrounded by vast seas, Tawi-Tawi is endowed with rich marine and aquatic resources. The celebration also reflects these rich bounties of the sea that Tawi-Tawi takes so much pride of.

The festival features the rich culture and traditions of the Sama, Badjau, Jama Mapun and Tausug who peacefully and harmoniously live in the Province – colourful cultures and admirable traditions that are still lived and practiced to this day.

In this year’s edition of Agal-Agal Festival, 9 out of the 11 municipalities of the province participated in the street dancing competition and showdown. Each contingent showcased their well-rehearsed and choreographed dances and performances in their most elegant traditional costumes, colourful props, and upbeat traditional music that reflect the rich culture of their town. Pangalay which is a traditional dance of the Sulu Archipelago is greatly incorporated in their graceful performances.

I have been to a number of festivals in the Philippines. In Mindanao, I have covered some of the most significant festivals that the Island boasts. And just when I thought I have seen enough, Agal-Agal Festival offered me a different festival experience – a different vibe incomparable to the other festivals I have witnessed in the country.

To be here in this southernmost part of the Philippines witnessing such spectacular festival is truly an honor. Given a chance, I shall come back and again relish another Agal-Agal Festival experience!

Shout out of thanks to the Department of Tourism – ARMM headed by Regional Secretary Ayesha M. Dilangalen for inviting The Travel Teller to witness this amusing festival of the country’s southernmost Province.

Wacth THE TRAVEL TELLER’s Video Blog of the Agal-Agal Festival HERE.

TALAKUDONG FESTIVAL: Wear a Hat and Be in the Groove

“Wear a native hat and be in the groove!” I was told. “Wear it not only to shield you from the burning heat of the sun or the unexpected drizzles, wear it to blend in with our people as we celebrate and honor the symbol of our City’s culture.” Without hesitation, I obeyed. And when I looked around, I saw a great multitude wearing the same native hat each with different designs. I was on the street now readying my gears as the sea of performers dressed in multicolored costumes dancing their way towards us – all armed with native hats called kudong. “So this how to Tacurongons celebrate Talakudong Festival!” I concluded. With the kudong on my head, I started nodding and wobbling like a guy with a cool bobblehead, I blended in.

Tacurong Talakudong Festival 2014 (52) copyTalakudong Festival is the most celebrated event in this City of Goodwill. It is a neo-ethnic festival honoring the most prized symbol of the City’s history – the kudong, a head covering worn by early settlers of this city. Talakudong which comes from the word kudong refers to something that covers the head against the sun and rain. It is said that the early people of Tacurong gave the Sultan of Buluan, now Buluan town in Maguindanao, a golden kudong as a special gift for his enduring efforts in instituting peace and progress in the area. Thus kudong becomes symbolic to the city and its people. In fact, the name Tacurong is derived from this emblematic Talakudong.

Glan Centennial Celebration 1Gaining a good reputation as the festival of hats, Talakudong Festival has become a historical and cultural spectacle in South Central Mindanao. It is highlighted by street-dancing and field demonstrations with lavishly decorated talakudong as the main feature accompanied by the sprightly sound of bamboos and drums. The dances and performances showcase the history of Tacurong from being a barrio of Buluan into a multi-cultural town of Sultan Kudarat and eventually into a bustling city.

TACURONG CITY TALAKUDONG FESTIVAL 2014 (51)The annual celebration of Talakudong FesItval is done alongside the commemoration of the founding anniversary of Tacurong City which falls every 18th of September. This year marks the 14th year of Tacurong as a city and this year’s celebration was anchored with the theme “Talakudong:  Ipasundayag ang Imo Katahum” (Talakudong: Show Your Beauty).

TACURONG CITY TALAKUDONG FESTIVAL 2014 (84)Like the previous staging of this Festival of Hats, participating contingents from the different districts of the city spent months rehearsing for the most coveted prize and honor as the grand champion of the Talakudong Festival Street Dancing Competition. Hence, Tacurongnons and even local tourists coming the different parts of SoCCSKSSarGen Region always look forward to this event. Every year, these contingents who are grouped into different tribes never fail to surprise and amuse spectators with their well-choreographed performances and exhibitions highlighting talakudong as the festival icon.

TACURONG CITY TALAKUDONG FESTIVAL 2014 (78)Five groups competed in this year’s Talakudong Street Dancing Competition. Contingents competed at both street dance called “Lumbayag sa Dalanon” and the field demonstration called “Kiay-Kiay sa Talakudong”. Out of the five competing groups, Tribung Manubiaw was proclaimed the Grand Champion with Tribung Kudong and Tribung Kadsayap as second and third. Consolation prizes went to Tribung Salakot and Tribung Naragsak. Tribung Manubiaw, the grand campion, was my personal choice and I was as euphoric as them when they were proclaimed winners! 

ONE HUNDRED CAPTURED MOMENTS.
ONE TALAKUDONG VIBE.

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Indeed, Tacurong City has gone far from being a barrio to a multi-cultural town and eventually into a bustling city. But it is so remarkable to know how the Tacurongnons place a great value of this innate culture and the preservation of it as one of their principal goals. Undeniably, this colorful Talakudong Festival is a great reminder of the city’s rich past and a promise of a brighter future.

Ida Damo of ChoosePhils, Bernie Arellano of habagatCentral and yours truly, The Travel Teller
Ida Damo of Choose Phils, Bernie Arellano of Habagat Central and yours truly, The Travel Teller
Talakudong Groupie
Talakudong Groupie

My deepest appreciation to Tacurong City Mayor Lina O. Montilla and City Tourism Officer Emelie Jamorabon for giving me this opportunity to experience the vibe of Talakudong festival for the first time. The same goes out to all the staffs of the City Government for making our stay very remarkable. My special thank you shout-out to my Choose Philippines family most especially to my Lalabs Ida Nanette Damo as my travel partner documenting this festival now I considered as one of the best in South Central Mindanao.

TINABANGAY FESTIVAL 2014: A Celebration of Socorro’s Greatest Living Tradition

The country’s widely-practiced tradition of bayanihan is probably the most celebrated tradition among the many notable customs and traits we have as a nation. This practice has spread out all over the archipelago and the world regarded it as one great trademark of the Filipino race. But in the islands of Siargao in the northern part of Mindanao, bayanihan is not just a common tradition. It is a communal way of life deeply rooted from a glorious past. This extraordinary tradition is called tinabangay. Home to this is the island town of Socorro in the province of Surigao Del Norte. And the celebration of this remarkable tradition is called the Tinabangay Festival.

Socorro Tinabangay Festival 155More popularly known as the Bucas Grande Islands, Socorro is an island municipality in the island group of Siargao. The island town is home to CARAGA’s pristine beaches, unspoiled coves and enchanted lagoons that is fast becoming a major tourist destination in the region. Two of these most prized attractions are the Sohoton National Park and the Jellyfish Kingdom. But not known to all, Socorro is not just about eco-tourism destinations. Its people, culture and way of life are among those that made up one beautiful reason why must travel and experience Socorro in different way. Tinabangay Festival sums up all that is good about Socorro and the Socorrohons.

Socorro Tinabangay Festival 48Like bayanihan which refer to a spirit of communal unity and cooperation, the term tinabangay is derived from word “tabang” which mean help and tinabangay in the real sense means “helping one another” – as group or as a community. In Socorro, tinabangay has been practiced since the very early days and their amazing stories of collective heroism were told from generations to generations.

Socorro Tinabangay Festival 159This started in 1920 when the people of then Sitio Bunga responded and saved Spanish missionaries from drowning while on mission sailing bound to island. The sailboat was battered and ravaged by the gigantic waves of the Pacific and was on the verge of capsizing but the people of Sitio Bunbga came to the rescue. Everyone was spared including the Spanish priest who was overwhelmed by the goodness of the people. He then called them Socorrohon and the place Socorro. Socorro in Spanish means help and so Socorronhon means helpful people. It was the start of how Socorronhons came to fame as helpful individuals among its neighboring island towns.

Socorro Tinabangay Festival 20

In 1924 during American occupation in the Philippines, Socorronhons fought as one community against the US Constabulary Forces when they were attacked and suspected as members of “Colorum” or unregistered society founded to rebel against the government. Many Socorronhons perished. Their lives and livelihood were greatly affected. Many lost hope. But despite all these, Socorronhons stood up, helped one another and braved to start all over. That was the start of tinabangay – one community, one goal, one Socorro.

Socorro Tinabangay Festival 73Today tinabangay has remained the most important tradition in Socorro and being matinabangon (helpful) is the greatest trait of every citizen of this island town. Widely practiced, tinabangay is often done during the month of July and August through collective house building, farming and other communal activities. Socorronhons would leave the comforts of their homes to offer their labor services for free in the construction of houses and collective farming activities with the house or farm owners shouldering the food and material costs. This usually lasts for 30 days. The first day of the volunteer work is called intrada and the last day is called “last trip”.

Socorro Tinabangay Festival 167When the work is done after the long tiring days of tinabangay, the house/farm owners will then call for a modest celebration locally called “paglipay-lipay” as a way of gratitude to all those who help him build his house or toil his farm. This is also a great way to celebrate the burning spirit of unity and volunteerism in them that lead the way to achieve their goals. It is then a celebration of joys, efforts, pains and feat of tinabangay. In the early days, paglipay-lipay comes with merry-making and dancing. This where a local dance called “collegiate” or “sayaw Socorro” was born. Today, this traditional dance is still performed by the locals even the young generations.

Socorro Tinabangay Festival 141Because of such invaluable significance of this tradition that defines the truest meaning of Filipino’s Bayanihan culture, it paved way to the birth of the annual celebration of Tinabangay Festival celebrated during the Foundation Day of Socorro which falls every 22nd of February.

Socorro Tinabangay Festival 171The creation of Tinabangay Festival is aimed to make this bayanihan tradition known outside Socorro. It is also meant to inspire the rest of the country and the world with its living legacy widely practiced even to this date.

Socorro Tinabangay Festival 191As a colorful festival filled with lively music and spectacular dances, Tinabangay Festival promises to attract tourists to come to Socorro and take part of this rich living legacy that depicts the goodness of the Filipino people.

Socorro Tinabangay Festival 180And just like the previous staging of this event, this year’s Tinabangay Festival was a grand showcase of Socorro’s rich heritage portrayed in the much awaited performances of the six contingents from the different clustered barangays of this island town.

Socorro Tinabangay Festival 203The dances and choreography performed by each contingent project the concept and practices of tinabangay. Each storyline behind choreographed presentation portrays the pains, joys and triumphs exerted and made during tinabangay.

Socorro Tinabangay Festival 236Like the famous scene of bayanihan where neighbors work together to carry a house to its new place, the performances showcased during the stationary presentation centered on the communal practices of tinabangay – neighbors helping neighbors build their houses, communal fishing using bobo, a fishing tool made of bamboo, and farmers planting and harvesting rice together. These are actually pictures of our great culture as Filipinos practiced not only on the country but even those Filipino communities scattered around the globe.

Socorro Tinabangay Festival 185There are ample of festivals in the Philippines that reflect the rich and colorful culture of our country but Tinabangay Festival of Socorro is simply distinctive. It is something that every Filipino wherever he may be in the world can relate. Tinabangay or bayanihan is a universal culture practiced and shared among us.

Socorro Tinabangay Festival 261In the times of great calamity, of great catastrophic disaster, Filipino spirit of bayanihan is felt – tinabangay is made to alleviate the burdens of our fellowmen even if we are not there. This is one of our traits that made us a strong nation. In fact we are admired by many nations for being such compassionate and caring citizens of the world. Socorro’s Tinabangay Festival mirrors that compassionate and matinabangon in us.

GLAD TO BE PART OF THIS YEAR’S TINABANGAY FEST. It means so much to me. I am deeply honored.

TINABANGAY FESTIVAL 2014

Socorro Tinabangay Festival 17 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 30 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 35 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 50 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 77 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 83 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 91 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 98 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 103 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 114 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 123 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 134 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 150 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 166 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 194 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 202 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 207 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 217 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 226 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 234 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 238 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 246 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 247 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 249 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 255 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 258 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 259 Socorro Tinabangay Festival 260

*****My heartfelt gratitude to the LGU of Socorro headed by their beautiful Mayor Denia Florano and Vice Mayor Dominador Taruc for inviting this blogger along with other friends in the media to witness this very spectacular event. 🙂 To Mr. Edelito Sangco who initiated this Media Tour, my depest gratitude. I am looking forward to come to your beautiful islands! CONGRATULATIONS Socorronhons!*****

The Travel Teller with media friends from Davao City
The Travel Teller with media friends from Davao City