Feature: Sangyaw Redux

I was supposed to attend both, but missed out on the former as my son Jandy still had classes on the day of the parade (June 27). The latter’s parade, held on June 29, the day after our arrival, was still worth the visit. This cultural festival was first created by former First Lady Imelda Marcos in 1974, but was discontinued after 1986. After an absence of more than two decades, it was revived last year by Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, Imelda’s nephew. Sangyaw is derived from the Waray word meaning “to herald the news.” This year’s parade promised to be extra special, as it was the 120th celebration of the Fiesta of Santo Niño de Tacloban (the city’s patron saint), plus Tacloban also just became the first city in the Eastern Visayas region to be classified as a highly urbanized city. As with previous parades, our grand-view deck for watching the three-hour, 3-kilometer-long afternoon parade was Avenida Veteranos, packed since early morning with thousands of onlookers lining up to watch this unprecedented display of pomp and revelry.

Seventeen contingents from different provinces and cities, especially from the Visayas and Mindanao, graced the festival’s street-dancing competition, with cash prizes, for the Open or Free Interpretation Category, plus trophies. Featured were the Sinulog Festival of Cebu City, the MassKara Festival of Bacolod (Negros Occidental), the Cocowayan Festival of Isabela de Basilan City, the Dinagyang Festival of Iloilo City, Bonok Bonok Marajaw Karajaw Festival of Surigao City, the Pattaradday Festival of Santiago City (Isabela), Kawayan-Banigan Festival of Basey (Samar), Magayon Festival of Legazpi City (Albay) and Tacloban City’s Tribu Kabatuk (last year’s grand-prize winner).

The Bonok-Bonok Maradjaw Karadjaw Festival, represented by Surigao City’s West Central Elementary School, grabbed all four minor prizes (P50,000 each) in the open category (best in costume, best in musicality, best in street dancing, and best in choreography) plus the P500,000 grand cash prize. Second place (P300,000) went to the Kawayan-Banigan Festival and third place (P200,000) went to the Pataraday Festival.

In the community- and school-based category (with 10 participating contingents), best in costume (P10,000) went to the Alibangbang Festival of Dolina, and best in musicality, street dancing and choreography (P10,000 each) to the Eastern Visayas State University (EVSU). The grand champion (winning P300,000) was EVSU. Second place (P150,000) went to Holy Infant College, and third place (P100,000) to Sagkahan.

The festival was also graced by many political luminaries, including Imelda Marcos and Sens. Manuel Villar (working the crowd on foot), Francisco “Kiko” Pangilinan and Juan Ponce Enrile (on a float with former actress and now city councilor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez, wife of the mayor and chairman of the City Tourism Council). Also present were Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., former Ilocos Norte congresswoman Imee Marcos, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando, former Surigao del Norte governor Robert Lyndon Barbers, Marikina City Mayor Maritess Fernando, Makati City Mayor Jejomar “Jojo” Binay, Surigao City Mayor Alfonso Casurra, Rep. Gilbert Remulla, Santiago City Mayor Amelita Navarro and Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama. Television and film luminaries, some riding on floats, included Karylle, Marian Rivera, Christian Bautista, Luis Manzano, Cesar Montano and Dingdong Dantes. Other floats included those of the winners of the Miss Tacloban 2009 beauty pageant.

Come nighttime, these same people who lined the streets for the parade also filled up Balyuan Barbecue Park and Amphitheater and the Tacloban City Convention Center, venues of concerts and other entertainment for the weeklong sociocultural festivities. Business was brisk, and hotels and inns were fully booked with tourists, both local and international, truly an indicator of the festival’s success and its worthiness of being returned to the tourist map. (Benjamin Layug, BM)

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