Thursday, 14 December 2017

Kalamayan Festival: Celebrating Victorias City's Sugarcane Workers And Sugary Heritage!

(Blue skies over Victorias)

Last month, I blogged about Silay City's gastronomic heritage. This time, I am writing about my hometown's own sugary heritage!

Being the home of the Philippines' largest sugar refinery, Victorias City capitalizes on its reputation as a sweet village on the Negros Island.

And since the City's important historical dates are celebrated in March (Charter Day) and April (religious fiesta), the organizers have earmarked the last two weeks in December to celebrate the Kalamayan Festival.

            (Competitors awaiting their teammates 
                         during the relay)

                  (Sack race bit-bit kalamay!)


                  (Racing while inside the sack!)

The Kalamayan Festival celebrates the people working in the sugar industry: the sugarcane workers, or 'tapaseros'. 'Tapás' means to cut down in Hiligaynon. These are workers who live and work in the haciendas planting and harvesting sugarcane plants, which are turned into sugar.

      (Contestants for pang-os tubo getting ready 
                     for a tough competition)
                       (The cockfight crowd)

The main participants in this festival are the farm workers who compete in the games prepared especially for them: kadang (stilts) race, sack race, relays while carrying sacks of sugar, a sugarcane peeling and munching contest using only one's teeth! The winner is probably the one with the strongest set of teeth! Katig-a ayhan sang tubo! The sugarcane is tough!

                        (Pang-os kita tubo!)

(Ang manok ni San Pedro...nga ugis ang balahibo...ang manok ni San Pedro...pustahi kay sigurado...)
                  ("The first rule of Fight Club is: 
               you do not talk about Fight Club".)

I was able to watch the activities of last year's Kalamayan Festival, where I saw for myself the fun and enjoyment of the tapaseros and their families.

Aside from the games, there were cockfighting events and an exhibition of tarantulas, rare lizards, Burmese pythons and scorpions at the Victorias Plaza. Thanks to July and Jake of the Bacolod Tarantula Keepers, I had an on-site education about these fascinating creatures. 

(Birdman: The referee's name is Duro and he's a veteran in cockfighting. He judged all the fights of the flightless birds. In this photo, he's raising the winged winner. I wonder if the losing bird is turned into tinola.)

(The betting game is called 'pula-puti', where the bets are placed on specific squares and a ping-pong dropped through the funnel decides the winner. If the ball settles on your square, you win.)

Last year, I was able to watch dance performances of students from elementary schools in Victorias City. I was especially impressed by the performance and costumes of pupils of a certain group; if I am not mistaken they were from the Estado Elementary School.

Here are a couple of clips I took:



                  (Grade school pupils with their 
        musical instruments and colorful costumes)

So if you're in the neighborhood of Victorias City in Negros Occidental this month, watch the fun games and attend events of this year's Kalamayan Festival from December 15 until the 31st.

Last year, as part of the Festival, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra serenaded the Victoriahanons and visitors with Kachaturian and familiar Christmas melodies.
                        (Masquerade Waltz)
                          (Pamasko songs)
                  (Love Yourself by Justin B.)
                             (Sleigh Ride)

On the schedule this year, there are events at the Festival allotted for other towns and cities, namely, Murcia, Silay, Talisay and E.B. Magalona. I wonder what our neighbors' presentations are.

So good luck to all the tapaseros and participants at the Festival! Kit-anay kita tanan dirâ!

                              *  *  *  *  *

This is the 2017 Festival's schedule:

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