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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Festivals: Mirror of cultural identity

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“Festivals contribute to the economic development of a region by generating revenue from tourism-related activities”

FESTIVALS – abundant in this multi-lingual and multi-cultural nation of 114 million – often reflect a community’s cultural identity, showcasing its history, traditions, and heritage.

They may involve traditional music, dance, clothing, and rituals that have been passed down through generations.

Observers note festivals provide socio-cultural benefits to communities by fostering community cohesion, social exchange, and a sense of pride since they offer opportunities for socialization, interaction, and sharing ideas, which contribute to the social fabric of society.

Are we referring to town fiestas which are plenty during summer? Or are these different from the annual town fiestas when municipalities across the archipelago celebrate perhaps good harvest and pay tribute to their respective patron saints?

It is during this time when the locals get to celebrate their culture and traditions passed on to the next generation. Fiestas reflect Filipino religion and faith, which are the most essential part of society.

Cultural festivals, which serve as a way to celebrate and honor traditions, values and beliefs, are events that celebrate the diversity and traditions of a community or ethnic group.

These festivals often include music, dance, art exhibitions, religious ceremonies and activities that reflect the cultural identity of the region.

Cultural festivals celebrate a community’s unique cultural identity. They often reflect the history, beliefs, and practices of a particular group, allowing individuals to connect with their roots.

Usually held annually or biannually, they are important for the celebration of culture and heritage.

Some of the elements of a cultural festival are the customs, myths, and oral traditions, cuisine, costumes, and music of the communities that participate.

Festivals provide a platform for the transmission of cultural values, rituals, and traditions from one generation to the next.

Many agree the festivals have positive effects like promoting the cultural heritage of the local people, promoting the city, increasing the number of tourists, creating additional cultural entertainment opportunities for the local people and increasing the quality of life of the local people.

These festivals are often a time of great celebration and help believers to remember important beliefs in their religion.

Verily, festival events in the Philippines hold great cultural and religious significance since they showcase the country’s heritage, foster a sense of community, and provide an opportunity for Filipinos to express gratitude and celebrate their traditions.

Festivals can enhance the social image and entertainment opportunities of a destination, attracting more tourists and improving the overall perception of the community .

They also contribute to the economic development of a region by generating revenue from tourism-related activities. Festivals provide us with the time to spend with ourselves and the ones we truly love and care about, a period for deeper introspection, allowing us to know ourselves better and find peace within.

They can drive the growth of tourism-dependent businesses, such as hotels, restaurants, tour operators, and souvenir shops. The revenue generated from festival-related tourism helps diversify local economies and sustains the tourism industry. Festivals are celebrated around the world, bridging all the gaps.

Festivals bring people together, creating a sense of community and belonging.

One such festival in the country is the Tan-ok (eminence) of Ilocos Norte, first organized in 2011 by then Gov. Imee Marcos as part of the campaign to revive cultural pride and Ilocano identity by focusing on narrative-driven presentations produced by local creatives.

The festival was last staged in February 2019 before the pandemic swept the country but was re-launched in December 2020 to continue celebrating the province’s cultural heritage amid pandemic restrictions. It has since become a part of the program for Ilocos Norte’s foundation anniversary in February.

In the recent edition of Tan-ok Festival in Ilocos norte, the 23 towns and cities of the province came together to perform cultural presentations that highlighted the “distinct tradition, folklore, livelihood, and history of their (towns).

The contingent from Batac City emerged as the champion for a performance which celebrated the city’s Empanada Festival, and how this famous delicacy could “transcend borders” and “unite” people.

Coming in 2nd place was the performance from Pinili, where warriors walked during the Philippine-American War and during the second world war, that showcased the Abel Festival which gave a glimpse into the “enchanting world of Magdalena Gamayo, a master weaver now 99 years old, and her timeless craft.”

Gamayo is the first of two National Living Treasures from Ilocos Region, the second, also from Ilocos Norte, is Adelita Romualdo Bagcal, 77, a dallotera (chanter) since she was 15.

The festival which returned in 2024 after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic is the highlight of the 205th foundation anniversary of Ilocos Norte.

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