Festivity on Bayanihan

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

BAYANIHAN -- which is derived from the word "bayan," which means town, nation, or community -- is commonly practiced by Filipinos, particularly those living in rural areas.

"Among Filipinos, bayanihan means helping each other during calamities, when there is a house to be transferred, when death comes to a family, and in other instances where there is a need for collective help," said Domingo Bulabog, the person who conceptualized the Tinabangay Festival for Socorro, a fifth-class municipality of Surigao del Norte.

Tinabangay -- which means "helping each other" -- is their way of practicing bayanihan among themselves. "Bayanihan seems to belong to the past already," Bulabog explained. "You can read about in history books or those being told by older folks."


Since 1960, Socorro has been practicing this endeavour. "Tinabangay is the embodiment of the Filipino culture that is very much alive in this island town," said Denia T. Florano, the town's mayor.

She said that for a period of thirty straight days in a year -- from July to August -- men have to leave their families and offer their services for free in house construction and collective farming activities.

"Women, on the other hand, take turns in assisting the house and farm owners in preparing the most delicious and nutritious foods and beverages to ease the workers' weariness and quench their thirst and hunger," Florano said.

According to Bulabog, this undertaking is little known outside of Socorro. "Even those in nearby municipalities, they only heard of it but never actually seen it happening," he pointed out.

That's the reason why in 2003, the Tinabangay Festival was launched as a way to give other people a chance to see or take part in bayanihan. "We organized this festival to let the world know that bayanihan is not just a word but has a real flesh and spirit," said Edelito C. Sangco, municipal agriculturist and designated municipal administrator.

Last February 22, we were given an opportunity to witness the Tinabangay Festival during the town's 53rd anniversary.

Although it rained on the day of the festivity, nothing could dampen the spirits of the residents and the visitors who came together to celebrate one of the values Filipinos have become famous for.

Thousands of people flocked to the seaport to witness the showdown of six performing teams participating in the much-awaited event. "This is the first time we really had something like this as lively and colorful," said one resident.

Every time a team performed, it would rain. Unfortunately, the spectators were not allowed to use umbrellas so as not to block the sight of the people behind them. As a result, most of the audience ended up soaked, but they didn't mind it at all.

"This rain is a blessing," the master of ceremony told the audience.
Although people were not allowed to use umbrellas, the members of the media who covered the event were allowed to use theirs so that their cameras wouldn't get wet.

"Believe it or not, this is the first time media is covering this event," said Florano at the press conference held the night before. "We are very happy that despite your busy schedule, you have given time to come here."
Socorro comprises the whole island of Bucas Grande and situated on the easternmost part of Surigao del Norte. It can be reached via pump boat: 3- 4 hours from Surigao City, one hour from Dapa, one hour from Hayanggabon, and two hours from Cantilan.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 13, 2014.


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