Sinadya Sa Halaran Festival

The runway of Roxas City airport almost leads out to the waters of Sibuyan Sea. The way the plane maneuvers in preparation for its landing, makes this as one of my favorite (and a bit scary) landing spot. As I looked out the window and saw the dark blue waters almost a spitting distance away, the plane makes a hard turn in the air at a very low altitude. I felt a seminal formation of goosebumps inside my chest. As the wheels touches the ground and I hear the brakes grinding the plane slowly, I heave a sigh of relief and started imagining myself drowning in fresh seafoods again

I first learned about the Sinadya sa Halaran Festival when Capiz tourism officer Mr. Dino Altobano briefed me about it when he picked me up at the airport. I came to Roxas city to join a few other travel bloggers participating in a Capiz provincial tour, which aims to bring the word out, about the many places and other interesting cultural tidbits the province has to offer to local and foreign travelers alike.

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The previously unheard festival then started to form an idea in my head. I quickly dropped my things at my hotel room and hurriedly went to the city center near the provincial capitol. Along the way, I hear drumming and saw many people out and about, all eager to kickstart the festival. It is a low-key event compared to other bigger and popular festivals like the Sinulog, Dinagyang, Masskara and the Ati-Atihan. Culture-wise, the Sinadya sa Hilaran brings a new concept by incorporating various traditions through visual re-enactment of everyday community life and practices such as courtship, harvesting, community 'bayanihan' and other traditional dances.

It is celebrated every first weekend of December with emphasis on both religious and cultural practices. Surrounding municipalities participates through a delegation which performs local dances, depicting a spice of everyday life while dressed in colorful costumes and body paint. Watching the performance, we got ourselves the best seat in the house. Under the red hot sun and a set of blue skies which only turned a bit cloudy for a few minutes, we were unmindful of the hard pavement as we watched each contingent perform fluidly in front of us. We could hear the mostly elementary and high school performers count and yell choreography instructions to each other. I saw each's facial expressions, mirrored that of any ordinary individual whose everyday lives, they tried to their fullest to depict. Vivid colors flashed through my line of vision and the banging of the drums, shrieks of delight by other spectators brings forth a different vibe one could only feel in festivals such as this one.

I used to be uninterested in experiencing festivals around the Philippines. However, through the years I was able to attend some and at the end of the day, amidst the crowd, the endless walking and trying to position for a better view, the whole experience always downplays all of the inconveniences and I keep concluding, what's there not to like?

The vibe atmosphere continued the whole day and was capped by a nighttime fluvial parade and a brazen display of fireworks which lit up the nighttime sky and had the thick crowd looking up with a "wow" forming in their mouths.

with other travel bloggers: Claire, Kara, Regine, Agboy, Christian and Estan

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