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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“We started from scratch, but now, Banaag Festival is now nationally-acclaimed”, Vice-Mayor Matet enthused.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
In this competition, the 8 tribe wins cash prize coming from the combined efforts of the municipality and from the Congressman’s personal money.
Overall, it’s a festival worthy of accolades and praises as it gives hope, unity, pride, and accomplishment in the peaceful town of Anilao.