June 22, 2024

The sound of gongs and chanting of villagers from the 10 towns of Mountain Province echoed on the streets of Bontoc, as the province celebrated the 17th Lang-ay Festival, which coincided with its 57th founding anniversary on April 6.

With the theme “Strength in diversity: Celebrating inclusivity and solidarity”, the festival highlighted its grand street parade and cultural showdown which showcased the province’s unique cultural heritage through creative presentations.

Representing Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco, DOT Usec. Ferdinand Jumapao graced the festival as the guest of honor and speaker with provincial and municipal officials led by Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan, Jr. and Rep. Maximo Dalog, Jr. in attendance.

Ten municipalities participated in the event: Sagada, Besao, Sabangan, Bauko, Tadian, Bontoc, Sadanga, Barlig, Natonin, and Paracelis, which were divided into western, central, and eastern clusters.

The streets of the capital town became an avenue of culture and tradition as villagers performed their cultural practices in the grand street parade.

Adorned by ethnic fabrics and handicrafts, the participants also presented their traditional rituals and ceremonies in the cultural showdown that reflected the rich and diverse culture of Mountain Province.

The performances served as a storytelling device for each municipality’s unique traditional rites and practices.

The practices highlighted were pacde, a ceremony following the begnas to maintain and share the luck and blessings of pakpakeddan, which was performed by the municipality of Bauko;

The municipality of Sabangan presented ug-ugbo, which is the act of charitable deeds in the spirit of volunteerism, showing how the villagers help each other in farming;

The municipality of Besao presented the execution of ug-ugbo and galatis in pursuit of sumya, a Besao dialect which means development or progress, reflecting the goals of their municipality;

Paracelis performed the Kakarefin Festival, which came from the ga’dang dialect that means “holding hands.” The performers highlighted the shared history of Mountain Province with the Ilocanos, farming together in a colorful array of props and costumes;

Natonin presented hafit, a tradition of the Balangaos celebrating the birth of a child. The narrative revolved around a tribe delivering inanchile to the people in exchange for valuable gifts for the child;

Sagada also have kulkulong or gubbaw, which is also a celebration of the birth of an infant three days after its birth, but here there is a ceremonial giving of beday or Igorot identity and bestowal of good blessings for the child to grow virtuous;

Bontoc performed the balawang, a ritual to ward off epidemics where the elders shout dawis which also requires the preparation of allad, padanga, and placement of padipad

Sadanga presented tara-ong, a traditional practice of house construction, showing the spirit of communal, ob-obfo. The presenters built a house made of cogon grasses and hard wood while dancing;

Tadian performed lemdang, a local term for traditional thanksgiving to Kabunian for the prosperous season and bounty harvest. The performers danced tarattattat as a prayer for blessings of prosperity; and

Barlig played out the story of Fuchadchang and Sagsakhupa’s drunken fight as Malingoy deescalated the situation. It highlights women’s importance in society and their high respect toward women.

Since its inception in 2005, the Lang-ay Festival has become  an annual celebration of merry-making and fellowship. It is a culmination of the culture and tradition that aims to preserve the peoples’ historical roots, cultural heritage, and traditional practices.

It is also to boost tourism in the province through a vibrant display of ethnic props and costumes. Villagers of all ages were encouraged to participate to ensure their cultural identity remains intact in the times of modernization.