Saturday, November 5, 2011

Frolicking in Tumba

The fun and excitement never fade each time I attend the Tumba, a halloween tradition in the town of Paoay in Ilocos Norte. This is my fourth time to see it and my second time to judge the competition and I kept on discovering new things.

Tumba means catafalque. It is made of cogon, bamboo, coconut and banana leaves and other indigenous materials. It usually measures around 4x5x6 m. The people prepare an altar filled with a wide array of food plus antique images of saints, small and big alike, crucifixion, candles and flowers. The old folks clad in their pandiling and kimona with black or white veils recite prayers. They also render songs. Tumba is celebrated every first day of November in time for the All Saint’s Day.

The people from the community help put up the tumba. It used to be an individual barangay showcase but it was a long and tiring job to visit all the villages. So they came up with clusters of barangays or districts to minimize time and expenses. There were ten entries this year. We started past 7pm to go around. We have seen tumba that were dim lighted with only candles and torches. People in the community warmly greeted guests and they were led to the altar. Atang or food offering was shown to us. We were asked to pick whatever we like. The essence of tumba celebration is snatching the food you like from the table or it’s locally called mangararwa.

I had a great time tasting the food they prepare from each tumba. They had the umras consisted of native food delicacies such as suman, tupig, linapet, patopat, baduya, bicho-bicho and many others. Drinks composed of a bottle of softdrink, beer and basi, a local wine made of sugar cane are also offered. Not to forget the important offering, the betel nut, gawed leaves and the lime for mamaen.

I enjoyed eating the grilled fish such as the huge tilapia from Paoay Lake. They also had the mudfish, catfish and the porong. They displayed also roasted native chicken, a farm produce in each barangay. People from the coastal areas showcased seafoods such as big crabs, shrimps, shell fish. I even their exotic roach of the sea which is a family of shrimps.

Fruits adorn the table in the tumba such as bananas, papayas, guaples, pineapples, sugar cane and other fruits. When you look up, some pomelos were hanged for decoration and I was told that that was the main decoration in the old times. It was also decorated with abel cloth and crocheted fabrics including the altar.

We finished it after an hour and a half. We had difficulty of taking home the bunchful food they have given to us. Right after judging the village folk shared the offerings. With Mr. Raquel, Ms Majang, Mrs Carpio and Mr Galano, we concluded our trip to the tumbas at the municipyo. Districts 5, 8 and 2 came out as the winners in this year’s Tumba.

Frolicking did not stop at the tumba but went for a quick trip to the horror house set up at the creepy site of the convent ruins. There was a long queue of young people who want to be frigthened by scary characters inside. Screaming and shouting of young girls is what you can hear and there was even crying of a young boy. What a wonderful way to celebrate halloween.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Semana ti Ar-Aria

Ar-aria means ghost in Ilocano and the past week was a season of ghosts. On October 30, I was invited by barangay chairman Joegie Jimenez to attend the celebration of halloween and judge the contests in the town of Burgos. It rained cats and dogs but it did not dampen their mood. Locals joined in the body painting contest, scariest costume, thriller dance, & lie down in a coffin challenge. The teenagers showed no fear of lying down the coffin. No elders dare tried it. There were some snacks basically of kakanin prepared for the participants and guests.

On October 31, a halloween bash at the Ilocos Norte Capitol was held. It was participated in by most of the towns in the province. Even local political leaders donned costumes. There was a parade of scary halloween characters and costumes that started from the public cemetery taking the Rizal Street and ending up at the Capitol. There were a lot of spectators for this event showing that they love to be scared.

After the parade, there was a frightening pageant called Reyna Iloca-locana with most of them outrageous gay characters. They were made up really as creepy creatures. There was even one candidate who portrayed as unborn fetus who drank blood.

There were also some halloween games such as the lungon challenge. Prior to this event, there was free horror film festival held at Robinson’s Mall and Mariano Marcos State University in which I saw the indie films Yanggaw and Kinatay courtesy of Film Development Council of the Philippines and the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte.

GenSan: Tuna Capital of the Philippines

The very purpose of my visit to General Santos City or Gen San is to see how the tuna export market looks like since it is dubbed as the tuna capital of the Philippines since 1970. The city is the largest producer of sashimi-grade tuna and the second largest daily total catch of fish in the Philippines after Navotas City with a capacity of around 750 metric tons.

Lungsod ng Heneral Santos is a highly urbanized city and it is a component of the province of South Cotabato. It is the center of commerce and trade in Region XII better known as the SOCCSKSARGEN Region. It has a total of 26 barangays and has an area of 492.86 It is located on the coastal area making fishing industry as main source of livelihood.

I went to the fishing port in Barangay Tambler early to catch the glimpse of the huge tunas. On my way, I saw workers in their suit and boots who rode on the jeepney Im riding at. It was unfortunate that I was on a shorts and sandals that they won’t allow admission. Because of strict implementation of the policy and that it’s a waste of time to go back to my hotel, I went and tried my best to look for someone whom I can rent boots and pants with. Luckily at the side of the gate there were people with boots for rent. I rented it at 50 pesos and I also rented the pants he’s wearing.

Then I went to hitch in a motorcycle. There I saw the fishport with numerous boats. This is a world class fishport complex that has 750-meter quay and a 300-metre wharf. The port is equippped with modern facilities of international standards. People were busy transporting their catch. Several kinds of fish that I saw.

Then at the other end were the huge tunas that men carry on their shoulders. I instantly took photos of them. I even boarded the boat just to see the tunas up close. They were placed on a container on the boat’s body with lots of ice. They have to use force to carry and bring it to the floor. Then one by one, they were picked up by porters.

At the hall, they have to weigh each and every tuna. It shall be assessed by buyers and have to pinch a very slim metal tube into the tuna’s body to sample the quality of the meat. They haggle and negotiate with the price of each tuna. I saw some foreigners at the market with Japanese and Caucasians.

Aside from exporting tunas, General Santos City process the tuna catch. The city is actually home to seven tuna processing plants which one can see along the highway. Then coming back to the city, I looked for restaurants that serve tuna and I was lucky to find one. I had a taste of the sinigang na tuna with partnered wtih seaweed lato salad. This was truly a great tuna trip experience.
Justify Full

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sarangani Bay

Since I was already in South Cotabato and I’ve been hearing Sarangani from Congressman Manny Pacquaio which he represents in the House of Congress, I compeled myself to drop by. I took a jeeney ride from General Santos City to the capital town of Alabel and I went straight to the Ladol Beach by hiring a tricycle.

On my way to the bay I passed by a house which grills fish for sale. I was tempted to eat because I know that the fish are fresh straight from the sea. I ordered tinap-anan fish for only 15 pesos each and ordered rice to complete my meal. I enjoyed eating and then later went to the shore. I saw so many fishing boats at the bank. I saw some people fishing and making a net. Some young boys were playing a local game at the houses nearby the shore. It was quite simple life to live in Sarangani.

Sarangani Bay is in Sarangani province which became independent in the year 1992. It belongs to the SOCCSKSARGEN or Region XII of the Philippines. It is an acronym that represents South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City.

Sarangani has an area of 2, 890 sq. km with seven municipalities. It boasts of eco-tourism adventures such as white water tubing at the rapids of Pangi river in New La Union. White sand beach of Gumasa comes alive during the Sarangani Bay Festival on May. Sarangani is also home to several ethnic groups that give a colorful culture.