Every time I go home, I see this woman on top of a building in the city–a woman aglow in gold who stares forwardly towards the sea, the green hills of Guimaras, and beyond. She holds stalks of rice against her bosom while a scythe on her left. Dressed simply with her traditional patadyong and covered her hair with the hablon, she stands guard on a pedestal that brought her to new heights. She’s a farm girl from the fields of Panay.
Though she may look simple and unassuming, but behind her eyes and stand is a story of rise, fame, power, vices, betrayal, damnation, and redemption. She is a mother who once shaped an entire civilization. Her name is Lin-ay, the lady of the south.
Because its the Halloween season or nearing Todos Los Santos, I’ll be featuring several Spanish era cemeteries of the province of Iloilo within this week. Known for their unique camposantos, construction and baroque features, these has stood the test of time and an addition to the heritage sites that manifested Ilonggo, Spanish, Chinese and mestizo creativity along with its century old churches and houses.
Located 59 kilometers southeast of Iloilo City towards the province of Antique, this laidback southernmost town of Iloilo of San Joaquin is our first stop for the tour. It was believed to be one of the places of the mythical “Barter of Panay” where Bornean datus traded the legendary golden hat and long necklace to the native Ati or Aborigenies for settling in the lowlands.
Being the farthest town down south, it has maintained its rustic charm with a century old church featuring the relief of the Battle of Tetuan. Maybe a manifestation of the Christian settlers here against the marauding Moro raiders during the Spanish colonial era.
It was Friday noon of June 29th, a cloudy day in Iloilo Airport. I picked up my fellow Geo-Advocate Wayne Manuel from the airport in Iloilo. It was his first time coming to Iloilo and I am glad to be at his service to have him greeted at the airport and send him to his hotel at the city. I was to finish several tasks that day, so we opted to take the easiest and fastest mode of public transportation between the airport and the city—the taxi.
This is the beginning of my personal journey between two cities (localities), that I call home. Both south of Manila, one in the middle, the other one at extreme south. Each has different characters, each has a story to tell about my life. This is part of the series, A Tale of Two Cities.
Chapter 1: May 6, 2002 – A New Day Has Come…
I’m not supposed to write personal stuff here on my travel blog, but this day, a decade ago, was one of the most significant dates that happened in my personal life. It was the day that I arrived in Iloilo, hoping to start a new beginning, a new life—and it did. My move south a decade ago had made one of the most lasting legacies that made me who I am now, and what HabagatCentral is all about.
It’s the month of May in the Philippines, and that means its fiesta time this summer. One of the towns that celebrate its annual festivity during May is my hometown Pavia, in the province of Iloilo. However, unlike the trending feasts that went on street dancing as a major event, Pavia still pursued the promotion of its ingenuity, culture, and tradition by celebrating Carabao Carroza Festival every May 3rd, a day before Pavia’s religious feast for Santa Monica.
Last week, we were in Batangas for a visita iglesia in Taal’s prominent religious structures—the Basilica Minore de San Martin de Tours and Our Lady of Caysasay Shrine. Today, we fly all the way to the Visayas to visit Iloilo. Our first stop would go all the way to the southernmost town of the province, San Joaquin. This town is known to be one of the landing sites of the mythical Ten Bornean Datus. However, the crowning jewel of this southern town would be its 19th century church and its cemetery. The church however tells the story of the San Joaquin’s history, carved in stone.
Wouldn’t it be grander if we conclude the Philippine arts month in a festive mood? Pasinaya was all about that last 26th of February, 2012 in its seventh season. It brings Philippine artists all over the country in a celebration of music, dance, theater, visual, film, literary, workshops and a lot more—organized by none other than the Cultural Center of the Philippines. This year, with more than 100 activities related to arts and culture, thousands of students, families, individuals, local and even foreign tourists flocked the CCP Main Theatre (National Theater or Tanghalang Pambansa)—currently the largest arts gathering in the country (and I tell you, there were a lot of people…a lot!)
How about Dinagyang in the amateur photographer’s perspective? Iloilo’s annual grand festival draw large crowds from different parts of the country and the world, especially those who are armed with lenses called cameras—DSLR or point-and-shoot ones. While it may be similar to just taking photos of the Ati warriors in Kalibo, Dinagyang’s dynamics in photography are way different. Though known for its fast paced choreography and a season known to give various lighting conditions and colourful costumes, photographers, both amateur and even professional, takes this festival seriously amongst the heat and beat of the drums.
For most of its history, Kasadyahan is a cultural-dance performance showdown that is the warm-up for the upcoming Dinagyang Festival climax in Iloilo City. Back then, most of the performances were from contingents that depict the Ilonggo or Panayanon “mainstream” culture through dance. Then later, it became “festival of Iloilo festivals” as the town fiestas of the province of Iloilo compete and showcase their town’s best.