Aliwan Fiesta

13 08 2009

Orville takes us on a one of a kind festival in Manila where Filipino cultures mix and showcase the best cultural performances of the country

Words and photos by Orville del Rosario

Summer breeze gave me goosebumps as my officemate, Francis, and I walked towards Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) complex in Manila to watch the Aliwan Fiesta. It was almost at the end of April, halfway out of the summer season, but it felt like summer was just getting started. The heat of the sun was pretty much right on! Good thing the clouds were giving the best shade at the time, hiding the mighty hot sun lights. We could see the towers of Star City as we were getting closer. I was so excited because this would officially be my first photo shoot ever. We were actually trying to enter a photo competition organized by a local AM radio station in the Philippines, the Manila Broadcasting Company (MBC). The theme was the Aliwan Fiesta, from anything taken during the street dancing competition and parade. I got into this because Francis, being a photography enthusiast, encouraged me (a newbie in photography ) to come with him to watch the festival and take some photos. He said that there was a photo competition and we should join. Of course I wanted to join, this was a new experience for me, both in my life and in photography. So we decided that we would come to the Aliwan and take as many photos as we can. We were joined by Ethel, another officemate, and the three of us were on the same team. Like I said, this would be my first time to attend a real photography event and first time to watch the Aliwan Fiesta.

The Aliwan Fiesta is yearly event where different provinces and cities across the country showcase their own festivals; for example the Sinulog Festival of Cebu, Dinagyang Festival of Davao, Panagbenga or the Flower Festival of Baguio City, Kadayawan Festival of Ilo-Ilo, and Karatong Festival of Dulag, Leyte to name a few.

This festival is not just about music and dances, they actually have their own stories to tell – stories that are native to their town or province of origin, like the Karatong Festival from the town of Dulag in the province of Leyte. Karatong is the Waray (a native of and language in Leyte) word for bamboo. During the olden times, way before the Spaniards came to the Philippines, the people in Dulag used bamboos to warn the town if there were enemies, such as pirates and tribes, who wanted to invade their lands. They would make loud noises to warn the townsmen of the arrival of the intruders, and would use it also as their weapon in the form of spears to fight against the enemies. With the story they have, they will make it into a series of routines, amazing music and dance moves.

To be in the presence of such diverse and rich cultures, it makes me feel so proud that I am a Filipino. We have different culture, traditions, beliefs, but through these events we become one united nation. Yes, the main purpose of the Aliwan Festival is to showcase the talents of each province or town, and that it is a competition more than anything, but this is also a time where different people, or shall I say “tribes”, from across the seven thousand one hundred and one islands of the Philippine archipelago, meet and be one as a nation. Together, they show to the world how rich our culture is, and how we preserve it, which is through our festivals.

“This festival is not just about music and dances, they actually have their own stories to tell – stories that are native to their town or province of origin”

All the festivals are great and we should be proud of them. On a personal note, the Karatong Festival in particular, is what I am most proud of. Simply because my mom is from Dulag, Leyte, where the Karatong Festival originated. She lived and grew up there, and I am proud to say that she is a native of Dulag, and I am proud to say that I have a blood of a Waray. And I was so thankful to God the He gave me the opportunity to have watched the performance of the Karatong Festival. I was so honored and proud that during the performance, and even got teary eyed. To simply be there and witness all that – not to mention how amazing they were with their performance – is just overwhelming and unbelievable. I was so proud of that moment, that I kept saying to my officemates that my mom is from where the Karatong Festival originated. God, that was so amazing! I am very happy I got to watch their festival.

Orville is a graduate of Electronic and Communications Engineer in the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. Currently working as an Associate Software Engineer at an IT company.

If you win a free trip to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I’d say, united kingdom…hehe..I dunno, maybe because I love Harry Potter that much that I wanted to see London and all that…haha. But seriously though, I think the place is cool..with all the castles and stuff and I want to see the stonehenge.

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2 responses

4 07 2012
iona

I am a native of Dulag, Leyte and I feel so honored that you mentioned about the history of my beloved town in this blog as you explained what the Karatong Festival is all about.
Great blog!

6 07 2012
ashmantoronto

I didn’t write this. My friend from the Philippines did.

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