Hinugyaw Festival merrymaking is a celebration of the separation of Anilao from Banate


Hinugyaw Festival, this year’s event was the first to have a dance-drama competition showcasing the town’s culture, heritage and history from the precolonial period to the present. Rising from its sleepy image and troubled past, Anilao town in Iloilo province recently held its Festival, highlighting its rich history through well-researched theater performances. Anilao is a fourth-class municipality in the province nestled 42 kilometers away from the capital. In the 1700s, Moro pirates came to the coastal areas of Panay and started stealing from its residents and took them as captives. To protect themselves, Anilao locals built baluartes, or Spanish-era watchtowers made of bamboo that were guarded by local sentinels who warned residents of incoming attacks by lighting a torch as a signal to flee.

“Hinugyaw” is derived from the local dialect which means “merrymaking.” The festival is a celebration of the separation of Anilao from Banate. It is celebrated with various sports and cultural activities. It helps us remember that there was a light of hope which guided Anilaonons to realize their desire for independence, and this light would help us in moving forward, too,” Debuque told BusinessMirror in a press conference held right after the festival’s culminating event. The monthlong festivity marks the welcoming the start of Christmas season, so domestic tourism is seen to rise, as well. Hubon Bulalakaw took home the trophy with their show which celebrated the nature conservation efforts of Anilao in the time of climate change. The delegation which consists of at least 120 individuals from Koronadal are set to leave for Iloilo. The group is composed of selected dancers from Saravia National High School, Concepcion National High School and the city’s Hinugyaw Cultural Dance Troupe. They will be representing the city’s Hinugyaw Festival and will showcase the rich culture of the tri-people in Koronadal through dances, colorful costumes and music. Lutgardo Labad, award-winning movie musical director and one of the judges, said the festival set new standard.

“It has broken away from the traditional concept of street dancing. Nagkaroon ng new phase, ng new concept (A new phase, a new concept was born) in staging history and heritage,” he said. Labad, also the artistic director of the world-famous Loboc Children’s Choir, said the festival veered away from the usual street-dancing routines “na gumaganda lang dahil sa (that only look appealing because of) gimmicks and surprise production-design elements.” “The concept of staging history in its different phases as it unfolded from the viewpoint of the people of Anilao is something very unique and very pioneering,” Labad said. Labad said the contest challenged the dancers and performers because they were forced to do “communal research” and integrate their findings in a “clear dramatic structure.” “I find this very refreshing, and I think this experiment must be made known to other festivals,” he said. Other judges were Zerrudo; Nonoy Froilan of the Cultural Center of the Philippines; Sonny Cristobal of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts; scenographer and television production designer Rolando de Leon.

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