Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Samar Day and Manaragat Festival 2011, All Set!

I was in the city of Catbalogan again, though as always, not (yet) to do my usual roam but for something called “work”. Anyway, I did have some bits of time during the 3 day visit, and yes, I felt it… the festive mood that the coming Samar Day and Manaragat Festival is already very much in the air! Well, as I write this, am sure many of the activities will/are already ensuing. For those who don’t know (I didn’t) Samar Day or “Kaadlawan Han Samar” is the provincial government’s celebration of the province’s foundation anniversary. The Manaragat Festival on the other hand is the city government’s month-long series of celebrations to highlight the city’s August 24 fiesta in honor of their patron saint/s. Am confused on that part as there are supposedly 2 saints being honored in this fiesta celebration – and I wonder why.

Hah, on arrival last Friday afternoon, I was surprised why everywhere seemed to be already in festal mood when it was only the 5th of August. But I liked it! The streets all adorned with the usual buntings and banderitas with many signs, fiesta greetings and fiesta what-have-yas!

Dinnertime was even a surprise. We hopped into the famous Eskinita Tower Grill and Restobar and found that the 18 candidates of the province’s “Mutya Han Samar” were there for some light snacks, banter, photo-ops and fun with the bar’s mainstay singers. That after they each romped from their table to center stage to introduce themselves (and the localities they represent) a-la beauty pageant. At first we thought we would not even be allowed to eat at the said venue due to the presence of those beauteous beauties, but the manager plus the owner came to tell us it was perfectly alright to have our dinner there. Ah well, with just 3 to 4 tables of regular patrons, the place was packed with all the handlers, alalays of the beauties, some onlookers and the photographers! They left early though and we hear they moved to another place for another appearance. Oh well!

I’ll have my take on this restobar in a separate blog entry.

Following day, I roamed around and chanced upon a little new building by the corner of the capitol grounds near the tennis courts. Hmm, its their yet unfinished tourism offices doubling as the province’s product and destination showcase. Many interesting things I encountered there and all I could say was “it’s about time Samar, show it off”! Here is a one-stop location to get familiar with everything the province has to offer – though most are still their products. Well, am sure more information on each town’s tourist attractions should be following soon since I saw that not all towns have already showcased theirs. I liked the t-shirts but the one I wanted to buy came “free-size-only” and none that I could consider a real fit for the gradually thinning large physique of My Royal Highness hehe. Sigh.

Then there was a basketball tourney in progress between the capitol building and that big and tall flagpole while over at the Imelda Park were some other activities probably for kids since I could see battalions of them having fun and cheers under the trees where there’s a stage. Hmm, the ‘children’s play park’ of yesteryears where half of it now has a covered gymnasium or something like it has been converted into some kind of a beer park. So this was that lively place I passed by last night! And I could see amidst the umbrellas, tables, chairs sponsored by the two beer companies that there are scheduled concerts of popular bands from the metropolis. Yey!

That long street from Catbalogan 1 Elementary School all the way towards Samar National School and perhaps probably even onwards to the Samar State University area is lined with so many bazaar stalls. Yep, the kind that you would usually see in any Philippine town during a fiesta. Baclaran and Divisoria lining up the streets hehe. The same thing is up over at both sides of the city hall and across the fire station. Some stalls are no simple tiangge though, since the things on sale (as in really sale prices) are the famous wood furnitures of Marabut and unique products of towns. The streets beside city plaza, lined with barbeque tents is also always abuzz with activity – this morning were rehearsals for some kids’ cultural show. Ah yes, previous night I saw another school’s performance. And interestingly, the bbq tents have an orderly character – one side are of (therefore sponsored by) San Miguel Beer while the other side is of Asia Brewery. Don’t ask which side has more patrons hehe. Its obvious!

On the same Saturday morning, I happened to pass by that popular restaurant called “Flaming Hat” (yes it’s a “hat”, not the usual “hot”) and I chanced upon a group doing screenings and initial pictorials of a “model search”. I knew some folks involved in the activity so I stayed around while waiting for the dentist. My my.. very serious activity and with so many hopefuls! I even got info from the people around that the Mutya Ng Samar girls were not allowed to join this one to avoid scheduling conflicts. Ah yes, someone told me those girls were at the very time over at another resort for some pictorials. Hectic and simultaneous activities everywhere!

Saturday night, I passed by the city plaza again, and no vehicle could pass by the streets on either side. The place was packed with thousands watching Samar National School’s show. Sunday night I went again and it was a double show from St. Mary’s College (formerly Sacred Heart) followed by St. Mary Child Development Center. I liked the latter with little kids as young as prep-school dancing the kuratsa and 6th grade kids strumming guitars or ramming their little fingers on piano keyboards. Talented kids, too many of them. Ah I ate at one tent while watching the show and got to try Manila Beer’s equivalent of SanMigLight (yes I was on the wrong side hehe) but it tasted just as good – only I think stronger, therefore probably better. I will try that again soon hehe!

Monday, yep that’s just yesterday, I left the city and I could see that everything was still abuzz with many activities. Hmm, am thinking… maybe I’ll pop in again in one of those many celebrations. I won’t probably have time to catch the Samar Day Parade on the 11th, but perhaps the Manaragat grand parade on the 23rd? Well, why not coconut?!

You can find their festival schedules on the web like this one.


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