Higantes take center stage in Albay festBy Mar S. Arguelles
A Parade of Higantes —giant colorful creatures representing Albay’s mythological characters—highlighted the grand opening of Daragang Magayon Festival that kicked off on Monday.
Thousands of city residents gazed at 66 giant colorful papier-mâché creatures over 10 feet tall, which were paraded along a 3-kilometer route in this city to signal the start of the monthlong festival, the longest festival staged in Bicol and organized by the provincial government of Albay.
The four-hour Higantes parade that began at 3 p.m. caused a major traffic jam at Rizal Street, the main thoroughfare of Legazpi City and neighboring Daraga town, but motorists, residents and visitors all took it in stride.
“The parade of mythical creatures was a hit and a crowd-drawing event that took the center stage in this year’s Daragang Magayon Festival,” Albay Gov. Joey Salceda noted.
The mythical creatures developed by local artists included such characters as “Gugurang,” creatures that are able, streetwise, strong, virile and brave Bikolano; “Mayon,” a beautiful woman, the youngest sister of Masaraga and Malinao, beautiful, intelligent and proud, hardheaded and moody; and Ibalong epic characters such as “Baltog,” “Handiong,” “Bantong,” “Oryol” and “Rabot.”
The characters that drew most attention and won the Higantes street parade competition were “Ibingan,” a multihorned red serpent with a fin on its head and back, which bagged the first prize and P75,000 in cash; followed by “Oryol,” a beautiful and charming woman from the waist up but a serpent from waist down that won P50,000 cash prize; and third placers “Dinahong,” and “Koro-koro,” winning P15,000 each.
Tambaluslus, a creature with wide protruding lips that cover its face when it laughs and has loose-bagged testicles which dangles to the ground, was a big hit among the crowd but was widely criticized by the Catholic Church here.
Abdon Balde, a multiawarded Bicol writer, said the characters of the parade of giants were lifted from the book “The Brief Account of Beliefs, Legends, Superstitions and Religion of the
Ancient Indios of Bicol” by Fray Jose Castaño published in 1885 in Madrid, Spain.
The Diocese of Legazpi, meanwhile, yesterday issued a statement lashing out at the festival organizers for erroneous interpretation of the mythical character Tambaluslus, saying that the figure offended basic norms of decency and the law.
“Worse, the organizers of the event and creators of the offensive giant figure know full well that it would be paraded in public, in full view of families and children,” the statement said.
The diocesan statement lamented that the piety of Holy Week and Easter were “conveniently set aside in Albay in exchange for lewd and shallow entertainment.”
The Diocese said it holds the event organizers accountable for the moral insult to Albayanos as it also urged Salceda to put a stop to this deplorable practice and ensure that it wouldn’t happen again.
Reached for comment, Salceda said: “For the peace of our community which is needed to pursue total human secular development, we will acquiesce but the threat is unnecessary.”
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