Archive for iloilo

many mansions

Posted in architecture, artifacts, culture, events, history, interior design, lifestyle, locales, people, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 20, 2010 by mijodo

As they say, people from Iloilo may not be as gregarious as their Bacolodnon counterparts who celebrate the good life with much gusto and much more moolah. It is even more prounounce right now that there is a Casino in that Negros Occidental city, and none in Iloilo. Apparently, Ilonggos take more pleasure in simple joys.

But still, as I went around, with my cousin Rolle Depakakibo and nephew Thad Depakakibo through the narrow residential streets of Iloilo City, one can certainly imagine the ritzy lifestyle that Ilonggos may have had in the distant past, particularly during the 1950s and 60s.  The old stately mansions of Iloilo are still there to be admired. The almost palatial Lopez family (ABSCBN and then Meralco Owner) ancestral homes still has that gleam and glamor as it features a beautifully manicured green lawn. It is said that it even has its own elevator – definitely an obscurity during that era.

The iconic Lizares Mansion has that gothic appeal, but is said to imbue colonial architecture. But definitely the ornate facade and beams create a rococo – almost baroque feel to the viewer. The Lizares residence has been converted to a Dominican School, Angelicum.

Another home worth a look is the Ledesma Family residence that features statuaries of eagles around the perimeter walls. Definitely, smaller than those of the Lizares’s or Lopez’s, but it does catch attention to those possibly wanting to go to nearby Guimaras Island Province as the wharf is just nearby.

Once you get to gawk at these Iloilo mansions, let other lifestyle imaginings explore your mind – the Packard and Mustang vintage family cars, the sugar plantation booms and bangus (milkfish) fishpond wealth,  the exclusive Assumption Girl School, much respected San Agustin School, the Candelaria Fiesta, mahjong and cockfighting sessions, and the fabulous Kahirup Club Social Balls.
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mesmerizing merriment

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, history, locales, nature, people, religion, tradition with tags , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2010 by mijodo

 

“Aaalliiiwaaannnnnnnn!!,” a man’s voice bellows over the speakers, in a low yet forceful timbre. Then the big drums begin to give their tribal beat.

The call for the yearly Aliwan Festival to start, is raw, primitive and much spirited. It is a call for all the best representative tribes of the land to participate in a gathering of rhythmic music, animated ethnic dance movements, and unceasing gusto to showcase their centuries old, cultural way of living.

Produced by the media conglomerate, Manila Broadcasting Company which owns popular Metro Manila radio AM and FM stations, DZRH and Love Radio respectively, the yearly Aliwan Festival invites all the contingents from many parts of the Philippines to demonstrate their indigenous cultural way of life through costumes, music, and dance.

Each group must have at least 60 individual participants, but there is always power in numbers, thus many times a group goes as large as a hundred people. And each contingent is solidly backed by the respective local government which shoulders transportation to and from Manila, housing, and food for a couple of days. Financing for their stay in Metro Manila alone (usually in dormitories and low cost hotels) can come up to a hundreds of thousands of pesos. But still the provincial government or the municipal government is ready to foot the bill, not because of the One Million Peso Stake as prize for the overall champion, but also there is much pride in showing off what their places can offer in terms of festivities, revelry and folkloric experience. You may want to say this is the Olympics of all Pinoy Festivals – a gathering of cultural champions.

Every year, for some years now, many groups vie to be the grand winner in the Aliwan Festival. Each group has to do several minutes of field presentation in an open arena (usually both at the Aliwan Theater grounds and this year at the SM Mall of Asia Grounds, fronting Manila Bay) and street dancing along the stretch of Roxas Boulevard.  The Festival is usually done during summer months, particularly during May. Yet somehow over the years, the fete has been moved towards late April as rains have disrupted the celebration even during the summer month of May. The show starts around 4 in the afternoon and finishes toward midnight. By then, victors for each category are called, and an over-all champion is heralded.

 Photographers’ Delight. But on the eve of the awaited day of the events, there is a precursor. Each contingent has a muse who will outdo each other in a favorite of many Filipinos to watch – a beauty contest. Just like any town fiesta where a queen is crowned the night before the day of the fiesta itself, Aliwan Festival has to have its own Reyna ng Aliwan (Queen of Aliwan). Usually held at the Aliwan Festival Grounds, the ladies don their most elegant ternos (Philippine Gowns) and come up with witticisms to clinch the crown. But of course, it goes without saying, the winner has to be truly beautiful and epitomize the Filipina of today who still dearly holds old Philippine traditions and customs that can still be relevant during these times.

On the very day of the dance competition itself, at around 2 in the afternoon, one can see multitudes of men and lady participants, dressed in their most elaborate and most enthralling traditional costumes. Each piece of the garment, from the headdress to the footwear is a work of art. The refined embroidery of those coming from Marilao, Bulacan (Halamanan Festival), the feathered headpiece of those from Iloilo (Dinagyang Festival), the ornate jewelry from those coming from Cotabato (Halad Festival) – all done with a labor of love and dedication from their particular places. It is a heyday for all camera junkies as there is much to capture from their garb alone.

Although, from year to year, contingents and troops change, there are still somehow, favorites that take part almost yearly. Veritable overall champions Sinulog tribe of Carmen, Cebu and the Dinagyang group from Iloilo are among those who have shown up in full force and in full regalia this year. Throughout the years, the representatives come from places near and far – as near as Pasig catapulting the Pakalog Festival and as far as the Maguindanao, featuring not only one tribe but three tribes, each showcasing different ethnic festivals – Kaguinakit Ta Laya, Indarapatra Sulayman and Kagkawing.

Field Demo. As the famous Manila sunset slowly creeps in, the sound of the syncopated drums from each participating tribe becomes louder and more vigorous at the field demonstration areas. Every tribe should come up with its own rhythm and pulse from its own set of musicians to bring out the feel in their performance before an audience and the judges. During the field demonstrations, this is where creativity and production values of hired choreographers, managers, and directors can run wild. It is possible that the more gimmickry they come up with, in terms of presentation, the better chances of winning the coveted crown for their personal group. But of course, precision in its choreography and the authenticity of the ethnic dance movements earn big points too.

Each tribe is allowed a considerable amount of minutes to showcase a story or perhaps to just present a sense of the cultural identity of the place.  As such, the delegation from Iloilo’s Dinagyang Festival imparts the importance of the Sto.Nino in spreading Christianity amongst the Aeta natives. The huge sets, the fancy props, the colorful costumes, and the searing music just enhance a strong and usually winning performance from the representatives of Iloilo.

Other groups will come up with ways of staging a performance that illustrates their respective specific cultural identity. Different kinds of flowers will be the focal point of Baguio’s Panagbengga or Flower Festival such that young men and women will form ways to create floral patterns during the show. The contingent of  Marilao does the graceful Filipino dance steps, featuring the lush gardens of Bulacan. 

Don’t Rain on the Parade. Each contingent upon completion of the field demonstration will need to parade through Roxas Boulevard to reach Luneta Grandstand, and do the same field demonstration for a bigger audience.

And during the parade of a kilometer or so, another set of jurors will be checking on the delegates’ intricate yet traditional dance routine moves inspired, of course, from the festival each group embodies. Each group must show exact and almost measured movements among all members, and yet, they need to provide the same jovial character just like any Filipino festival parade.

For several years now, heavy rains have not stopped the parade, nor the Aliwan Festival for the matter. Here the can-do spirit and resiliency of all participants are most appreciated. Men and women, the old and the young, residents or not (yes, there was a foreign lady student who gamely danced for a contigent) try their best not to get thwarted by the extreme weather conditions – whether under the heat of the sun or the impaling sudden outpour. Managers and choreographers habitually remind them to focus on their moves, and not get bothered by the cheering crowd nor the over-eager photographers who obsessively interrupt their march for good photos.

Some managers would be strict in implementing a triumphant choreography on the heavy cadence of a set of marching drums. But some would use this time to relax a little bit. Thus the assistants and managers would let the members sip on some water for replenishment, and even some energy drink to invigorate the body and morale while making through their way to their final stop.

Final Routine.  As each contingent provides a second and final dance routine at the Aliwan Theater Grounds, and as each winner is called out for the different categories in the wee hours of the night, it is safe to assume that every participant can only have the feeling that the immeasurable amount of time and finances for the rehearsals in their respective places have not been wasted at all.  The whole Aliwan Festival experience is an edifying test to the will and pride of the people and the local governments to boost unity not only with all other participants, but oneness with the unique and very Filipino traditions and culture passed on from one generation to another.  For some years now, one can say that the tribes of Aliwan have not only spoken and shown our deep heritage to a new young audience, but have stirred up the spirit of the Filipinos to a new cultural high. Mabuhay ang Aliwan Festival!

the making of a town fiesta queen

Posted in culture, lifestyle, locales, people, tradition with tags , , , , , , on May 23, 2009 by mijodo

queen ginger of dumangas

One of the highlights of a fiesta whether it is on a provincial, city, municipal or barangay level, is the coronation of a designated queen, usually on the eve of feast day itself.  Many times the queen or relatives of the queen reside on the place where she is anointed as one.

There is much pomp and glory in presenting the muse for that particular occasion. The queen is expected to wear the refinery and elegance that only the best designers and dressmakers can offer. She parades her outfit, and displays her grace throughout the plaza or auditorium to the cheering onlookers, and the admiring audience. This is the queen’s night when profuse words of praise from an orator or a local politican are uttered about her.  And the queen will have no say but to blush and smile in shyness and embarrassment.

There will be musicmakers, usually hired orchestra players to regale and entertain the guests, but most specially the lady of the night. There will be special performers, again usually from the realm of showbusiness that will be invited to sing or dance to make the night more memorable, particularly for the attending masses. And at the exact time when the crown is placed on her head by the past year’s queen, firecrakers and fireworks display will create that radiance of glamour and excitement which the new young queen will never forget throughout her life.

There is quite a high demand for the privilege of being a queen of a certain place’s fiesta despite the expenses significantly paid by the family and the sponsors.  Afterall, there can only be one for each year. And if a certain lady just could not get the premier status, she might just settle to be one of the many princesses or dames. Thus many of the relatives will need to reserve for the “queenship” of a certain year, perhaps even 10 years or more after the time of request. Hence, somehow there is an elite circle of ladies, lucky enough to be queens for a given year. 

It is just hoped that the lady upon the moment she becomes queen, not only will she possess the exquisite beauty and charm very much expected of her, but she becomes an inspiration and delight to the community that she “reigns” in.

In this regard, let this post introduce to you, tall and dusky, Ms. Ginger Carmela Diamante Orais, the Town Fiesta Queen of Dumangas, Iloilo for (May 5) 2009. She is the daughter of Captain Leovigildo Orais and Dr. Roslyn Derla Diamante. At 19, she is taking up Nursing at the University of San Agustin, Iloilo.  Ginger says that she will utilize her reign in supporting the various programs of the local government of Dumangas, particularly in the protection and conservation of the natural resources, and the feeding program of malnourished children.

Then let Her Majesty Queen Ginger rule!

sacred vow

Posted in artifacts, culture, events, history, locales, people, religion, tradition with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2009 by mijodo

san jose celebration in our household

It is Holy Week. And somehow through the years, there is progressive diminishing solemnity on how Filipinos have spent such days. We can blame it on how people see it as opportunity to travel and do some rest and recreation. We can also point to cable television and the internet as sources of distraction. I remember the years when Holy Week meant  a lot of  bleakness, and sorrowfulness. And everything lightens up only during Easter Sunday. (But just the same, I am still wondering why there is extensive sadness during these days when Christ willingly allowed himself to die for all our imperfections. In fact Christ has triumphed over our inert evil ways.)

But there are still people who remain to be pious during the most hallowed days of the Lenten Season. And they do this with some ritualistic observance done to fulfill a promise. This is what we Filipinos call – Panata. There are many ways and rites to show devotion to the Lord. Pabasa is one panata where people in the community take turns in singing the Passion of Christ’s Crucfixion. Usually pabasa is done for the whole holy week.

Many times  a panata is started by one person, until the whole family becomes a part of it, and even continues it once the person who originally commenced the panata is not available. And it is possible that a whole community takes part of a particular panata such as in Pabasa and Cenakulo. 

There are other methods of doing panata. Some would go to 14 churches during Maundy Thursday and Good Friday for Visita Iglesia. Some would act and be part of a Cenakulo – a dramatization of Christ’s last days. And some would go to extreme – flagellate themselves, and even accede to nail themselves to a cross – just like what Christ had done. The Catholic Church has already expressed that such acts are violent and unwarranted.

Some panatas are ways to thank the Lord for His blessings and miraculous healings during the years. Some panatas are done for a wish to come true in the future. While some do their panatas for fear that some unexpected and bad things can happen once a panata is skipped. Just the same, these people see a panata as an overt expression of devotion to Christ, the Saviour. And yearly panatas are done for the rest of their lives.

But a panata is not exclusive to the activities done during holy week. Some would be called to go to Quiapo Church for the Nazareno devotion or even trek to Naga for the Penafrancia Festival and participate wholly for the activities.

In our case, my Mom celebrates San Jose, who is the carpenter-father figure of Jesus Christ. In our household, it has been done  for a few years now. But my mother says that her mother in her hometown in Iloilo had this panata   for many years. And somehow, mom wants to revive it in our family.

At first I find it a little weird. We have to look for people to represent St. Joseph, Mother Mary, and a young Jesus and dress them as such. Then after some prayer, they are to be fed food by other people. Then everyone has to take the hand of each significant participant and ask their blessings. Until now, I am still struggling to get the full meaning and sense of this custom afterall the responsibility of pursuing this panata can just fall on me, some time from now. Hopefully, I just don’t want this to be just a mere ritualistic continuation of my mom’s sacred vow.

Advanced Happy Easter everyone. Belated Happy Birthday Mom.

stoned

Posted in architecture, artifacts, locales with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2008 by mijodo

I have been to Iloilo many times, yet know so little of it. Since it is my parents’ province, I only get to be there usually during their town fiestas which limit my visits to meeting relatives and playing some mahjong. But the last time I went to this Southern province, I insisted to see places I have never been to. Instead of being chauferred driven, I asked my cousin to take me to some of the famed churches of Iloilo using public transportation. (There is nothing like using jeepneys and buses to know intimately a place.)

Thus after an early morning flight, we were off to one of the most precious spots of Iloilo, the church of Sto. Tomas de Villanueva of Miag-ao. At first glance,  the whole church seemed to be covered in chalk dust – yellow chalk dust.  Apparently, thick slabs of yellow sandstone have been used to create the church which acted also as a fortress from year 1797. Somehow the architecture looks unique, particularly when other Philippine churches try to reach the skies; this time, the Miag-ao Church squats on its own hugeness.

But still the whole edifice albeit short is imposing and regal. With the two bell towers, flanking the main part on each side, the image turns into something else. It is as if the church could be used as someone’s throne. Now, maybe my comment is too much of a hyperbole. Or maybe i am just a little stoned.

 

 

whirl, twirl, swirl

Posted in events with tags , , , , , , on May 6, 2008 by mijodo

 

At the Aliwan Festival 2008, there was no stopping the stomping despite the heavy downpour. Members of each contingent just had to show us their moves in the street dance competion from Luneta Granstand  and which was capped with a field demonstration at the Aliwan Theater Grounds.

Proclaimed winners were Lumad Basakananon of Cebu (a threepeat!), Tribu Paghidaet of Iloilo (crowd favorite) and the Carmen contingent of Cebu for first, second and third places respectively.

pride

Posted in events with tags , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2008 by mijodo

As predicted, rain poured in. Undeterred, I went to Quirino Grand Stand maybe foolishly risking my health and my camera. But there was pride in what I was about to do afterall, this is the Aliwan Festival where the best 24 regional dance troups perform for the one million peso pot.

But more than bragging rights of who wins the top prize (there has always been a very fierce rivalry between the Sinulog representatives of Cebu and the Dinagyang delegates of Iloilo for years), each contingent just beams with pride to showcase who they are as a people.  For each group, there is real pleasure to present their own culture and heritage using their ethnic costumes and tribal moves. As such, it gives me esteem to be truly Filipino.