Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Street dancers from Tiwi geothermal town win Ibalong festival competition
By Emmanuel P. Solis

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept 3 (PNA)--Street dancers from the geothermal town of Tiwi in Albay reprised their winning form last year to grab the crown anew in street dancing competition of the Ibalong festival, a non-religious fiesta showcasing Legazpi City as a major tourist destination.

Traffic paralyzed the side streets of the city, where motorists converged and walked their way home, as the competitors, along with their floats and props, gobbled the six-kilometer stretch of the street dance parade route, that started at PeƱaranda St. in Old Albay, seat of the provincial capitol, and ended at Quezon Avenue in this city’s Central Business District (CBD).

The grand champion, Tiwi Central School’s “Tribu Tigbi,” clinched top spots in three other categories in the competition. It was best in costume and props, second in movements and choreography and third place in music and sounds.

Tiwi town, a rich source of geothermal energy in the country, is also known for its pottery making industry that has been enhanced by modern technology.

During the street dance the 11 contingents composed of ensembles of young, school-age dancers, six of them competing and five in non-competition, unfurled their jubilant rhythm amid thunderous drum rolls that started at 2 p.m. and ended just as dusk descended on the city.

Tiwi’s contender bested five other contingents coming from Legazpi City and some municipalities of Albay and its two neighboring provinces of Sorsogon and Camarines Sur to get the top prize in the silver year anniversary of the festival that highlighted Bicol region’s ancient origins as depicted by its “Ibalong epic.”

The epic, Bicol’s major contribution to Philippine folklore, has three major “superheroes,” Baltog, Handyong and Baltong.

Immortalized in a monument along Lapu-Lapu St. in this city’s CBD, the Ibalong heroes hog space in the city’s skyline, along with new high-rise Ayala Mall and pioneering retail chain Liberty Commercial Center, popularly known as LCC, making them an everyday reality in the lives of the current generation of Bicolanos.

Participants to the street dance competition, that included five non-competing contingents,wore costumes crafted from indigenous materials and prepared props and music that were in sync with the exploits of the three warriors.

In the epic popularized by the late Bicolano scholar Merito Espinas each of the three heroes has to face and defeat a nemesis. For Baltog, it is Tandayag, the gigantic wild boar, while Handyong has to outclass Oryol, the wily serpent woman. Bantong’s arch-rival is the ferocious monster known as Rabot.

Their names, costumes and props reflecting the epic heroes’ adventures, Tribu Sorhanay of Sorsogon National High School copped first runner-up honors in the street dance competition while Tribu Bulawan of Oro Site High School of Legazpi City emerged second runner-up.

|The Tribu Luzonian of the Southern Luzon Technological College Foundation Inc., also from Legazpi City, was fourth placer while Tribu Buwa-Buwaan of Lourdes National High School from Nabua, Camarines Sur placed fifth.

Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal and Rose Ajero, committee chairman of the event, handed Php 300,000 and trophy to the grand winner in the street dance parade while the five runners up received varying cash prices,ranging from Php 250,000; Php 200,000; Php 150,000; Php 100,000 to Php75,000 along with trophies. p>Bearing names coined from the local dialect, which merged the familiar with the contrived but as whimsical as their costumes and hand-painted bodies, the five non-competing contingents, who joined the event were the Tribu Edukador, Tribu Mahigos, Tribu Buhenos, Tribu Kapitanes and Tribu Gayon.

The street dance parade capped a month-long festivity consisting of a merry mix of activities, many of them sports competitions, such as the Dragon Boat Race, a combination of speed, strength and grace that was won by the Philippine Marines for the second consecutive year.

Traditional festival fare such as the “Ibalong, the Musical,” and “Mutya ng Ibalong,” that was won by Kathleen May Lausingco, a lass from Polangui, Albay, gave that “hometown” flavor to the staging of the 25th edition of the festival.

At the onset of the festival, City Tourism Officer Antonio Reyes, who expected an influx of tourists helped put up tourist desks at popular sites in the city such as Lignon Hill, Embarcadero de Legazpi, the City Boulevard and Grand Terminal station.

City Tourism Office records showed Legazpi City, which hosts an annual average of 35 various gatherings, posted a 45 percent increase in tourist arrivals in 2015 compared to the previous year.

The number of visitors in 2015 was up to 967,396 from the 666,210 in 2014.(PNA). RMA/GVR/EPS/cbd