Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pintados-Kasadyaan and Sangyaw Festivals 2009 of Tacloban

I wanted to see both the Pintados–Kasadyaan and the Sangyaw but I had to attend to some matters in Manila that I only caught up with the latter. Well yes, I did not expect much from both. Many folks (that includes me) are starting to be disinterested in seeing these two festivals due to the crazy politics that clouds them.

Why the two festivals?
Ah that’s politics at its ugliest. And people in Tacloban will readily tell you amusing stories that surround them. Oh no, locals there do not actually mind anymore. They just shrug at such ugly reality and laugh at how childish their leaders could be!

Pintados Festival, if I remember correctly, started some 20 or more years ago. I knew it was usually staged during the Tacloban City Fiesta. I was young then and marveled at the uniqueness of the performers whose bodies were painted – for that is how people there were referred to by Spaniards as Pintados since their bodies were tattooed all over. In the early years of this festival, people everywhere (not just the participants) would smear soot, charcoal or paint at each other which was fun (though easily creates altercations) and often hard to remove after the festival. I think this latter activity was purposely stopped as it creates more troubles than fun.

Nowadays too, not all contingents dancing on the streets are Pintados. The festival has evolved into something like Sinulog. Groups from other places are invited to perform but they prefer to showcase their very own festivals. Thus, there are categories like Pintados, Kasadyaan, Mardi Gras etc. Confusing but a grand show nonetheless!

The Sangyaw is new to my ears. Some people say this was a festival long ago and just recently revived by the mayor. The governor disagreed. And so, you have two festivals. Let’s see what happens if those two idiots reconcile or if in 2010 the emerging mayor of Tacloban and governor of Leyte are from one political party. Then I think, everything will probably converge as one big festival. As for now, Pintados-Kasadyaan happens every June 27th while Sangyaw is staged on the 29th of June.

Go ask around Tacloban about what happened last June 27 and your eyes will roll in disbelief! The Pintados-Kasadyaan Parade, supported by the provincial government of Leyte, was not allowed to pass through any of Tacloban city’s streets! They could only parade along what is called a “national road”. Well, I am glad that the final showdown was held at the big sports complex (a provincial facility). I hear that when the Pintados-Kasadyaan parade was about to enter one street (Justice Romualdez?), the city government blocked it with fire trucks, police officers, etc. I also hear that during the Pintados-Kasadyaan day (June 27), the city government did not collect trash from anywhere, thus, the city looked and smelled like yuck.

To whose loss were those actions anyway? The visitors? The leaders there are truly idiots! With all due respect to a lot of friends living in Tacloban and nearby towns, I am inclined to say… for the city and the province to be led by such idiots, that makes the residents nothing better. Who voted for them anyway?! What a shame.

Despite all of the above that I learned, I cannot say I did not enjoy my visit. It was fun, though predictable! I think I will still go see these two festivals next year. Hopefully the coming elections will have a good effect on the two festivals, their organizers and political supporters. Gosh, the ballot counting may not even be done by then, so God Bless Tacloban and Leyte! Argh!

Now back to my trip!

The early morning flight from Cebu was full to the brim and I saw politicians and big names of Central Visayas also headed for Tacloban. Hmm, even got an invite from one of them to hitch a ride from airport to city but I declined (ashamed)!

I previously asked a friend to book me a room along the Sangyaw’s parade route. So I hopped into GV Hotel. No it is not a hotel per my standards, far from one really. The general feel inside my room was I was in an air-conditioned prison cell. It’s a good building actually, even has a lift but the rooms are vandalized, dusty, has cobwebs with electrical wires that dangle anywhere. At least the comfort room was clean though pipes and shower cap are rusting. Plus, there is that big pipe hovering on the ceiling where you hear water flowing when guests at upper floors flush their toilets or take a bath.

Along the hallways, the general feel is seedy. It was only at dinner I learned from a friend that indeed GV Hotel is a favorite “short-time” destination of lovers who need some “quick togetherness” that they cannot do elsewhere! BTW, the doors are made of cheap plastic but have electronic locks with card keys! Interesting! Oh, they require a deposit for the damn card-key! At other “real” hotels all over the world, after invalidating the codes, they even give those plastic cards to you as souvenirs, right?

The Sangyaw parade starts in the afternoon so I took the morning for some roaming around. First stop, the Sto. Nino Church. I was surprised it was rather silent on a fiesta day but happy I could take pictures freely without people obstructing my view! Then I walked to the famous Balyuan Amphitheater. I knew it sits by the edge of San Juanico Strait and a good morning shot. Whoa, the Sangyaw contestants were in their blocking sessions! And how fortunate, I arrived there at the time that the Bonok Bonok Festival of Surigao was practicing. I intermittently watched them as I savored the great views of the sea from the theater. I have seen that group perform in Surigao and at the Aliwan and I felt they’d win an award or two in the Sangyaw. As they practiced, the other participants waiting for their turn would even clap and cheer at how good they were. I felt they’d win. Click here for a video.

Crossed the highway and went up to the City Hall as I knew it has a commanding view of the sea, the Japanese Memorial and greeneries of the area. Yes, it still does! But wow, there is this building to the left that serves as an area for residents to secure various permits from the city government. It looks just like any other regular single-level building but I was happily surprised to see what’s inside. It is air-conditioned, clean and orderly. Much like a modern bank branch really but probably five or six times bigger. There are “tellers” and their counters are tidy, there are those big numbers to signify who is to be served and there is a sea of monobloc chairs to sit all who wait for their turn to be served. Much like a cross of the Makati and Cotabato City Halls. Modern!

Going down from the city hall I saw that the La Naval group of Biliran was practicing. From the way they move, I thought it would have been a miracle or a gross anomaly if they ever grabbed any award during the Sangyaw. They were too novice. Then I heard, they were not competing but just “guest performers’ joining the Sangyaw for the first time for exposure and to see how others do it. Now now, I think they must have seen how good the Bonok Bonok troupe was!

Hailed a trike for the Sto. Nino Shrine (a.k.a Romualdez Museum). Been there many years ago during its heyday but I was too young and did not really care about anything. Then walked to the People’s Center for a view of what it is now. After lunch, I perched on the window of my yucky hotel and opted to watch the parade from there. It was interestingly too hot a day so I decided to stay indoors!

The parade… well yes it went on but not as spectacular as other festivals. The Bonok Bonok was a hit with the crowd. Another team from Benguet (Baguio) was a rouser for it is seldom that people from Tacloban would see folks parading around in those “minimalist” Igorot costumes. Well, Makati did not send a competing group but instead regaled the crowd with a great marching band composed of about a hundred or so folks. Wherever Binay got them, they’re very good! Their rendition of the theme from the Superman movie was excellent! I also liked the costumes and props of that group from Basey, Samar (Banigan Festival).

To each his own hehe… the Sangyaw of Tacloban is not like the other festivals in Central Visayas where only the competing groups are featured. The Sangyaw parade also features religious and political whatever! So part of the parade was a pickup truck carrying the Sto Nino followed by devotees and religious groups like CWL, K of C, etc., Then there was another pickp where Enrile (yep, the senator) was throwing T-shirts to the crowd. There were the Jollibee mascots, also in a truck, but unfortunately they were not throwing any burgers, fries or spaghettis. Too bad hehe! There was another truck with the newly crowned Miss Tacloban and other contestants though I could not see them well as their umbrellas blocked my view from the fourth floor hehe. There were folks in orange shirts with a banner that said they were “Erap Pa Rin Movement” and they threw calendars and posters to the crowd. Villar himself was not to be “unheard”!

Then there was the usual line of buses, trucks, vans and SUVs that brought the usual apples (yes the fruit) that the mayor and his relatives have to throw out into the crowds. For those not in the know, that is why Tacloban people bring their umbrellas during parades – whether sunny hot or raining. The umbrellas are raised and turned upside-down to catch apples being thrown out by the mayor who calls himself “apple of your eyes”, gosh! And then there was Dingdong Dantes and the everyone shrieked, gosh!

No I did not bother to see the showdown over at Balyuan in the evening as I had to be with friends in their houses, oh my. But I did see the fireworks from my hotel window. Yep, two of them – one from the Balyuan, care of the city hall… and another from Plaza Libertad care of the capitol. Now, where else do you see two separate fireworks in one fiesta celebration, eh?!

Oh well, there’s more fun in adversity after all! Agi pastilan!


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