She had a certain swagger, an air of confidence surrounds her. All made up, heavy light blue makeup on her eyes and lashes with golden tips. She was dolled up, powdered and rouge on her lips and cheeks.
A trail of blue sequins hung from her headress making a curtain on her forehead. Her gown was well made, with blue flowers on her front, gold trimmings and sequined. Her skirt was bonga, intricate and well done.
From a far, if she was just standing, she was like an icon of the Blessed Mary, gleaming. But then she danced. And I like her moves and swagger.
I got invited to be here in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, my second time to be in this young province, upon the invitation of the tourism officer, Ms. Eda Daarol. It really pays to write for a magazine and the governor of the province happens to ride with PAL and read about the article about his province. Yes, I’m proud.
July 1 was the first Sibugsay sa Sibugay festival, one which, due to some pragmatic reasons, replaced their Sibug-Sibug fest originally held every February. It’s no ordinary or not just another streetdancing that has been done in many new festivals around the country.
For one, their contingent was first in Cagayan de Oro’s fiesta last year. Second, they placed sixth in Cebu’s Sinulog, one of the grandest celebrations. Not bad for a virtual unknown and who joined these competitions just for the experience.
There were only four contingents as the sixteen municipalities that make up the province of Zamboanga Sibugay were grouped into four clusters. Though less in number, they got better and colorful costumes.
The prevalent theme and motif of the groups celebrate the seas reflected in their costumes. There were foam sea anemones, overturned baskets with white straws representing jellyfish. The props were oversized corals and fishes. Their festival queens donned lobsters and sequins for fish scales while many dancers were in fishermen attire or in the act of fishing.
Mindanao, the Philippines’s second largest island has a veil of mystery draped around her. Feared by the uninformed but loved by those who know her true worth and beauty. This series is my tribute for Mindanao, where I’ve been crisscrossing over the years and where a part of me also comes from. But beyond the usual sashays and stompings, costumes and props, is the desire of the province to shed off its negative image as a breeding ground of lawless elements. I’ve seen how rich Zamboanga Sibugay is terms of produce and natural bounty but it really has big tourism potentials that are hampered with negative perception.
The Sibugsay Festival is one way of putting a balance to this negativity and, coupled with how the local government is addressing these problems, it can soon rise and cash in on its beauty.
My sincerest thanx to Gov. Romel Jalosjos, Eda Daarol and Grees Verdadero of the provincial tourism for this opportunity to visit the province again.