IRIGA CITY, Dec 27 (PNA) -– Preparations are now in place in this modest Bicol city for its hosting on February of the grand Gayon Bicol Festival and the prestigious International Davis Cup tennis tournament in time with the celebration of its very own Tinagba Festival.
Gayon Bicol is a week-long conjunction of all the famed festivals from the six provinces, seven cities and several municipalities of the region as they compete with each other in the Festival of All Festivals Showdown organized by the regional offices of the Department of Tourism (DOT) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Among these festivals are the Ibalong of Legazpi City, Magayon of the province of Albay, Peñafrancia of Naga City, Kasanggayahan of Sorsogon Province, Sosogon of Sorsogon City, Bantigue of Masbate City, Catandungan of Catanduanes, Bantayog of Camarines Norte, Simarrones of Pili, Camarines Sur, Tabak of Tabaco City and Sunflower of Ligao City.
Street dancing among youths of school age in colorful costumes and effects will be highlighted by the themed festival showdown.
Now on its 8th year, Gayon Bicol, the region’s tourism strategy in promoting its numerous attractions will feature the festival showdown here on February 11 as the city culminates the celebration of its own Tinagba Festival, a harvest-offering celebration which also coincides on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the city’s patroness.
Tinagba is a yearly week-long festivity held from February 5 to 11 featuring farmers parading in carabao-drawn carts filled with the best of local produce that are blessed at mass and distributed to the needy. This feast originated from the early rituals of ancient Bicolanos who offered their first harvest to their Gods as a way of thanksgiving and to ask more bountiful harvest.
It also features revelers in mardi gras and native costumes who dance and parade around the city.
Tinagba is based on the Bicolano legend that tells of a people who lived under the shadow of a mighty mountain where the gods were said to reside. Here they spent their years giving birth, nurturing, planting, harvesting and dying.
They endured the elements, fought wars against neighboring tribes and survived the challenges of a pre-historic existence. But a time came when, no matter how hard they labored and toiled, the land refused to yield its fruit. The sun burned and the dry ground cracked under its glare. In desperation, the people begged the gods for mercy.
Apparently, their supplication reached divine ears and in no time at all, refreshing rain poured out from the skies. The fallow earth drank thirstily and life sprung forth from seeds once more. Grateful for the gods’ blessings, the people rejoiced and remembered this kindness through rituals and festivities celebrated since then.
This story serves as the backdrop for the festival and although the celebration may have been held sporadically throughout the centuries, it was revived in the ‘70s by the late Atty. Jose Calleja Reyes, whose research among the accounts of Franciscan chroniclers became the basis for the celebrations.
As host, the city’s Tinagba Festival will not participate in the regional competition, according to city mayor Madelaine Alfelor-Gazmen on Tuesday. Instead, the city government had slated a float parade competition among its barangays and civil society organizations that will depict the various values and characters the city is promoting in its Character City program.
The float parade will be held in the morning and in the evening when the self-same floats are expected to acquire a nocturnal look as they recreate and imitate Disneyland’s Fantillusion Parade with their varicolored lights and mechanical contraptions, Gazmen said.
For the first time in Bicol, the prestigious International Davis cup tennis tournament will be here here from February 10 to 12 next year and Gazmen said preparations of its venue which is the Iriga Coliseum is now in full swing. The preparations include its renovation and refurbishing into a world-class sports arena.
The Davis Cup gathers the best tennis players and tennis buffs within the Asia Pacific region and leading the Philippines team are five-time South East Asia gold medalist Cecil Mamiit; Treat Conrad Huey, a Filipino-American counted among the top 60 Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) players and; Ruben Gonzales, ATP world trained singles and doubles player.
Also with the Philippine team are Jeson Patrombon, Junior Australian quarter finalist and Junior world top 10 player and Johnny Arcilla, Philippine Columbian Association (PCA) five-time Open Champion.
“We are expecting not less than 5,000 tennis buffs and players, visitors and tourist for these triple events that is why the city government is seeing to it that every detail of the preparations is in place. Hotels, restaurants, resorts, shopping areas, peace and order, transportation and cleanliness are among the primary concerns of the preparations,” she added.
As a tourist destination, this city is a fast growing urban center in the Bicol Peninsula which offers breathtaking natural wonders, a safe community and the warm company of kind, creative people.
It is known as the City of Crystal Clear Springs with more than 30 natural springs spread everywhere in the quaint city. It is also famous for its most prominent natural landmark, the majestic Mt. Iriga that offers a captivating view of the Bicol River Basin area. (PNA)