Naliyagan Festival – Tribute to Indigenous and Local Tribes
The Naliyagan Festival, unlike the usual Catholic-themed Filipino fiesta, does not celebrate a patron saint nor revolve around a parish church. It is a commemoration of the founding anniversary of Agusan del Sur, and it pays tribute to everything indigenous and local about the province and its culture. Coincidentally starting on June 12 which is the Philippine Independence Day, and culminating on the founding day, June 17, the Naliyagan Festivities converge at the Naliyagan Plaza, Patin-ay, Prosperidad in Agusan del Sur.
The Naliyagan is relatively a recent annual tradition. It started in 1993 when the incumbent governor conceptualized a festival that aimed to recognize the indigenous people and their contribution to the culture and progress of the province. To be able to come up with an appropriate name for the festival, the governor consulted the elders of the main tribe of the land, the Manobo, and they chose the name “Naliyagan” which means the “chosen one, and the most loved.” Naliyagan can be your typical town or city fiesta. During the festival, sport competitions such as airsoft tournaments, motor cross racing, and off-road driving races are organized.
The Agri-lympics contributes to the local vibe of the fiesta. Contests for the biggest farm produce and fastest manual rice miller take place. Silly games such as piglet catching and mudfish relays are fun to watch too. A mudfish relay is like an egg-and-spoon race but with a live mudfish on a plate. Participants need to catch the fish by hand from a large pool before they can start racing! Spear-throwing, and boat rowing are native games that are also fun to watch.
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