Thursday, June 25, 2015

Masbate City’s Lapay Bantigue bags championship crown in Bicol festivals showdown
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, June 24 (PNA) – Lapay Bantigue dancers, in colorful getup, performed with astonishing grace and exceptional show of treasured culture to capture for Masbate City this year’s championship crown in Bicol’s showdown of festivals staged in Daet, Camarines Norte on Tuesday.

Maria Ravanilla, regional director of the Department of Tourism (DOT) which organized the competition dubbed Gayon Bikol Festival of Festivals, said Lapay Bantigue Festival captured the hearts of Bicolanos who witnessed the show with its performers’ remarkable rendition of the traditional folk dance that imitates the movement of the seagull, called in Masbate as “lapay”.

They gracefully imitated the movement of the lapay -- one of the most typical and beautiful scenes in Barangay Bantigue, Masbate City, when boats laden with abundant fish caught by small-scale fisher folk eagerly awaited by fish buyers--making an engaging portrait of the village’s everyday simple way of life.

This marvelous scenery has inspired old folk to come up with a local folk dance very much rightfully originated from the graceful movements of the bird and the harmonious relationship it has created to the lives of the fisher folk of Bantigue, whose seashores can never be more cherished without the lapay.

Such festival is staged yearly in Masbate City in celebration of its cityhood anniversary every Sept. 30.

For besting 11 other entries coming from all parts of Bicol and winning the championship title, the delegation got Php500,000 in cash prize on top of the other cash prizes, trophies and citations it won for Best Costume and Festival Queen.

Other winners were Ligao City’s Sunflower Festival which got Php300,000 as first runner-up; Virac, Catanduanes’ Burak Festival, Php200,000 as second runner up; and Daraga, Albay’s Cagsawa Festival for Best Street in Dance and Best in Music with Php50,000 cash prize for each category.

Staged in Daet in time with the holding of its yearly Pinyasan Festival, now on its 23rd year, and celebration of the town 432nd Foundation Anniversary, the showdown came as another grand and unique display of colors, culture and grace.

Pinyasan Festival is a yearly celebration showcasing Daeteños' unique arts, culture, capabilities in fostering their heritage and vast environmental resources gifted with land where the world’s sweetest pineapple, queen Formosa, abundantly grows.

The festival -- which runs for 10 days each year starting from its kick-off in June 15, the municipality’s foundation day, and culminates on June 24, the feast day of St, John the Baptist, its patron saint -- is one of Camarines Norte’s tourism promotion tools being initiated by the municipal government.

It features agro-industrial fair, beauty tilts, historical-cultural presentations and different sports events.

Daet’s Foundation Anniversary celebration is a commemoration of its birth when decreed as a municipality by the Spanish government in June 15, 1583. which marked its evolution from an ancient settlement that dates back from the time of Tabon cavemen, or long before the discovery of the Philippines by Magellan in 1521, into a progressive provincial capital.

This evolution has marked for the municipality a significant breakthrough when it was adjudged last year as the country’s overall most competitive municipality in the rating of the National Competitiveness Council (NCC).

The municipality has also been consistent in poverty reduction wherein it was listed by the National Census and Statistical Board (NSCB) to have the lowest in terms of poverty incidence among towns and cities in Bicol in 2012.

Ravanilla said 12 contingents representing major festivals in each of the six provinces of Bicolandia, known to be the region with the most number of festivals compared to its counterparts across the country, joined the competition, she said.

Now on its 13th year of holding Gayon Bikol Festival of Festivals, according to Ravanilla, the event once again became a festive encounter focused on the best festivals of the region, considering its importance as one attraction for tourism.

She explained that festivals usually depict the host locality’s rich culture and tradition, showcase their primary product, feature sports event distinct in an area and display Bicolanos’ talents through artistry and creativity.

Capitalizing on these assets, Ravanilla said, her office holds the showdown of festivals to create in the region a tourism culture, foster unity and cooperation and ultimately attain the common goal towards economic prosperity through tourism.

Apart from Lapay, Cagsawa, Sunflower and Burak, among the other festivals which joined the Daet competition, were this city’s Ibalong Festival; Bulan, Sorsogon’s Padaraw Festival; Tabak Festival of Tabaco City; Rodeo Masbateño of Masbate province; Palong Festival of Capalonga, Camarines Norte; Iriga City’s Tinagba Festival; and Boa Boahan Festival of Nabua, Camarines Sur. (PNA) RMA/FGS/DOC/CBD/