“God is not present in idols. Your feelings are your god. The soul is your temple.” Chanakya
By Alex P. Vidal
GUIMBAL, Iloilo — One area that makes the celebration of Bantayan Festival here different from other festivals all over the country is that “we dance and dramatize the history of our town with feelings,” said Iloilo first district Rep. Oscar “Richard” Garin, Jr.
When Guimbalanons showcased their talents in the Tribal Dance Drama Competition last April 12 at the Guimbal Amphitheater, they shed tears while reenacting the atrocities of Moro raiders who abused women and children and sold able males to slavery in Mindanao during the Spanish era.
“We are proud of our history and heritage. We want to tell the world how resilient we are and how we defended our municipality against the pirates,” explained Garin, a former mayor of this coastal municipality located at the southwestern part of Iloilo province.
Garin, whose sister Christine is the incumbent mayor, said they started to celebrate Bantayan Festival in 2003. Guimbal was established as a pueblo civil in 1703 and Bernardo Angan was the town’s first mayor.
Garin said “Guimbal” originally meant drum, which was used by Guimbalanons to warn villagers of the coming of Moro raiders in the sea. The first reference to Guimbal by such name in Spanish records appeared in Father Coco’s appendix to Medina’s “The History of the Agustinian Order in the Philippines” Where it referred to the establishment of a convento in Guimbal, Iloilo in 1590.
“The beat of our drums is different. The choreography is intense and the dance is based on our culture,” Garin said. “We don’t allow our participants to dance while eating a chewing gum. They have to do it with feelings in order to really deliver the message to the people.”
This year’s 2014 Bantayan Festival Tribal Dance Drama Competition was won by Tribu Igsibad. Other winners were Tribu Camagong (second), Tribu Tumandok (third), Tribu Canaca (fourth), Tribu Abunil (fifth).
As this year’s champion, Tribu Igsibad, will re-enact the Moro raid in Banyan beach resort, where the watchtower is located, in the festival next year.