Guling-guling means smearing or marking cross in the forehead. This is the salient point of the celebration of this festival. It is usually held on Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. It is the last day of merrymaking and celebration before the Lenten Season which is a counterpart of the Mardi Gras in Brazil and Fat Tuesday celebrations in New Orleans.
The smearing of cross in the forehead is a prelude to the ashen cross made on Ash Wednesday. It is made of ground white rice added with a little water. It is believed to be cleansing the spirituality of a person. This practice was introduced in the 16th century by the Spanish friars.
This is a unique cultural tradition only found in Paoay Ilocos Norte but not much people know this. Although the media had made feature of this event in the magazines and papers in order to publicize it.
I went to attend and witness this year’s celebration with my colleagues from The Ilocandia Photographic Society. We went to scrutinize their preparation before the street pageantry which is the highlight of the festivities. We saw the participants clad in the abel terna which was loomed in this center of abel weaving town of Paoay. They had marvelous designs of their costumes. The different villages were grouped according to district and the community takes part in supporting their representatives to the said competition.
The preparation and offering to guests and locals of the native delicacy dudol made of ground glutinous rice and sugar cane molasses is something truly unique to this celebration and a treat itself.