Ibalong Festival street presentation to relive Bicolandia's mythical heroes

August 31, 2013 9:26 am 

By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 30 (PNA) -– The myth lives on. On Saturday afternoon, Bicol’s folklore heroes will be the focus of a colorful street presentation featuring revelers dancing to an intoxicating beat that will culminate in joyous eruption of music, fireworks and thunderous cheers to close this year’s celebration of the month-long Ibalong Festival here.

Ibalong Festival, a major non-religious festivity staged yearly in this City of Fun and Adventure, is based on the indigenous legend of Bicol and is probably the only festival in the country celebrating an epic.

It comes to life as the city relentlessly pushes toward modernity and progress while looking back at the ancient origins of the Bicol peninsula pre-dating the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores and Christianity.

First celebrated in 1992, the festival relives the epic of Bicolandia’s mythical heroes — Baltog, Handyong and Bantong — who accomplished extraordinary feats of strength, courage and heroism.

The Ibalong is a 240-line “fragment of a certain manuscript in verse” which is included in Fr. Jose Castaño’s account of the origin, superstitions and beliefs of the ancient Bicolanos published in the 1896 in Wenceslao Retana’s Archivo de Bibliofilo Filipino Vol. 1.

The fragment is in Spanish quatrains and was said to be narrated by a local minstrel to Fray Bernardino Melendreras, a Franciscan missionary in Guinobatan, Albay.

The month-long celebration has featured activities such as trade and job fairs, art exhibits, tours, adventure events, stage shows, beer plaza, environmental care, beauty pageants and sports competitions.

On Thursday night, judges chose the first three winners of the Miss Ibalong 2013 with Jian Cayla Salazar of Guinobatan, Albay, as first.

Twenty young ladies participated in the beauty search.

The dazzling street presentation will progressively be held along the city’s main thoroughfares from the Peñaranda Park to the downtown area in front of the LCC Mall.

Over a dozen contingents of floats and dancers have expressed interest to participate.

Decked in vibrant, multi-hued costumes creatively designed and mostly using native materials, they will dance to catchy drum beats and chants as they portray scenes from the Ibalong epic-fragment inspired by Baltog, Handyong, Bantong, Oryol and other characters.

The festival is the city government’s tourism promotion centerpiece that acquired for the city the nickname “City of Fun and Adventure” in the world travel industry. (PNA)

LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/

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