Banaag Festival 2018

Anilao, Iloilo, Philippines – There are many reasons as to why Iloilo is dubbed as the City of Love. Unlike any other provinces with grandeur landmarks — Iloilo makes up for its rich culture, history, and tradition. Nothing but simple and unassuming, making the city a desirable destination in the Philippines.

A festival dancer in Anilao Iloilo
A festival dancer in Anilao Iloilo

Fresh from its win at the recent Best Tourism Event in the 19th Pearl Awards of the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines-Department of Tourism (ATOP-DOT), the Banaag Festival proved that they are the best and continues to provide an awe-inspiring feast the Anilao district, which is the smallest town of Iloilo.


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A festival of lights in Anilao Iloilo
A festival of lights in Anilao Iloilo

Out Of Town Travel Blog, along with other select media was fortunate enough to witness the spectacle that was Banaag Festival 2018, which was a month-long festivity in the district of Anilao. Thanks to the generosity and invitation of Iloilo 4th District Congressman Ferjenel “Dok Ferj” Biron and hospitality of Anilao’s current Mayor, Nathalie Debuque, we were able to witness a festivity that deserves national awareness and glimpse of what this small community is all about.

Banaag Fest Street Dance Performance
Banaag Fest Street Dance Performance

We have arrived in Iloilo at around 6 in the morning, and got the chance to tour around the famed Jaro Cathedral, Molo Mansion, St. Anne Parish, and the Iloilo River which is said to be the cleanest Urban River in the Philippines.

Banaag Festival 2018
Banaag Festival 2018

After some quick rest, we traversed to Anilao in the evening, located 40 kilometers northeast or an hour drive from Iloilo City. We’ve met with Anilao Mayor Nathalie Debuque and had our dinner before we head over at the venue for the drama dance competition.

The Roots of the Festivity

This festivity is the brainchild of Vice Mayor Theresa “Matet” Debuque, when it was taken over by her child, Nathalie, the current Mayor of Anilao. In a press con held after the event, the ex-Mayor shares that she conceptualized the festivity with no budget from the municipality, but through the help and support of Congressman Biron, they were able to execute what seems to just be a vision for their district.

Banaag Festival 2018 Street Dance Competition
Banaag Festival 2018 Street Dance Competition

“We started from scratch, but now, Banaag Festival is now nationally-acclaimed”, Vice-Mayor Matet enthused.

Banaag Festival Dancers
Banaag Festival Dancers

Even Congressman Biron was all praises for the Vice Mayor’s idea and said “I’ve seen her creativity, her innovation. Di ko nga maabot ang laman ng utak niya on how she would envision this kind of festival.”

Banaag Festival in Anilao Iloilo
Banaag Festival in Anilao Iloilo

When it comes to tourism, Mayor Nathalie shares that they have exceeded the entry of tourists of 19,000 from data gathered from 2016 to 2017.

The Magical Festivity

This year, Anilao in Iloilo have celebrated its 14th year with a grander, inspiring and vibrant celebration, with the torch as Banaag’s symbol of the Anilaonons. It usually represents the celebration of life and spirit of the locals.

Banaag Festival in Iloilo
Banaag Festival in Iloilo

The story dates back during the Spanish era, when local sentinels guarding bamboo watchtowers would light a torch to warn residents of incoming pirates. Up to this day, they have used this as a symbol and uses the play of lights to create an inspiring spectacle, thus the Banaag Festival.

Best Tourism Event in the 19th Pearl Awards of the Association
Best Tourism Event in the 19th Pearl Awards of the Association

The highlight of the festival was the dance drama competition where various group are donned in colorful costumes accompanied with battery operated lights. This competition was joined by 8 tribes with the following themes:

  • Hubon Silak (District 5) – A Glimpse to the Celebration of Lights and Colors of Anilao
  • Hubon Cabugwason (District 6) – History Written in Blood and Sugar
  • Hubon Siga-Siga (District 2) – A Reformation of Anilaoans’ Belief & It’s Celebration”
  • Hubon Aninibot (District 4) – The Blazing Dream
  • Hubon Daba-Daba (Dsitrict 3) – The Golden Hands
  • Hubon Karab-Karab (District 7) – The Moro Raid
  • Hubon Bulalakaw (District 1) – Celebrating Anilao’s Nature Conservation Effort in the Time of Climate Change
  • Hubon Iwag (District 8) – The Famine Years in Anilao that United her People

It was utterly entertaining in so many levels, with participants of various ages cheerfully smiles while performing, colors they wear changes at every beat, making each and every moment magical. People were engrossed with each and every performances of the tribes.

Festival in Anilao Iloilo
Festival in Anilao Iloilo

In this competition, the 8 tribe wins cash prize coming from the combined efforts of the municipality and from the Congressman’s personal money.

Iloilo Banaag Dancers
Iloilo Banaag Dancers

Overall, it’s a festival worthy of accolades and praises as it gives hope, unity, pride, and accomplishment in the peaceful town of Anilao.

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