Guling-Guling Festival in Paoay, Ilocos Norte

What was once just an event for cultural heritage preservation, the Guling-Guling Festival has grown into an event that draws in thousands of foreign and local tourists.

Guling-Guling Festival photo by PaoayKumakaway FB
Guling-Guling Festival in Paoay photo by PaoayKumakaway FB

The festival is a celebration that started in the 16th century by Spanish friars. It is a religious festivity, where it came from the practice of “panaguringan” or putting ash on one’s forehead during Ash Wednesday. This signifies the beginning of the Lenten season for Catholics. It is for this reason that the Guling-Guling Festival typically happens on the day before Ash Wednesday.


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Ilokanos part of the festival are typically dressed in silver and gold with accessories bearing the image of Mother Mary and the Holy Rosary. Everyone would gather in front of Paoay Church / St. Augustine Church where they will be treated to a grand cultural dance by Paoay residents.

Guling-Guling Festival in Paoay by PaoayKumakaway FB
Guling-Guling Festival in Paoay by PaoayKumakaway FB

Last year, this grand cultural dance was led by Paoay’s own mayor, Dolores Clemente, as well as other members of the local government. There were also activities that featured grand prizes that range from Php 50,000 to Php 100,000. 25 native pigs were also roasted and enjoyed in the longest boodle fight that was 75 meters long!

Guling-Guling Festival Dance Parade by Paoay Kumakaway FB
Guling-Guling Festival Dance Parade by PaoayKumakaway FB

The festival is now known for the colorful traditional dance of a weaving dance called “panag-abel”. This is a tribute to those who weave the “abel” cloth—one of Paoay’s most world-renowned exports. Other staples of the festivity include making dudol or their native cake or drinking basi which is their sugarcane wine. These traditions can be traced all the way to the old agricultural towns in Ilocos.

Despite the vibrant festivities and the tourist attraction, church officials still wish to instill the religious aspect of the festival to parishioners, locals, and visitors alike. The true essence of the Guling-Guling Festival is to commemorate Catholic virtues and practices, all centered on loving others and having faith in God.

Also read: Heritage Tour in Bohol: One Day Itinerary

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