Angono to dress up ‘higantes’ as front-liners in online festival | Inquirer News

Angono to dress up ‘higantes’ as front-liners in online festival

/ 05:02 AM October 30, 2020

WHERE GIANTS TREAD In this file photo, giant papier-mâché effigies are kept at the compound of St. Clement parish church during the Higantes Festival in Angono, Rizal. This year, the celebration honoring Angono’s patron saint will be held online and will pay tribute to front-liners in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

The colorful “higantes” (papier-mâché giants) of Angono town in Rizal province will take a somber hue this year, with the local government’s plan to dress the giant effigies in face masks and personal protective equipment, resembling front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead of the usual grand parade along Angono’s major streets, this year’s edition of the town’s famous Higantes Festival will focus on a play, the first in the history of the town’s thanksgiving tradition, to recognize medical personnel battling the disease that had taken thousands of lives and crippled local economies.


“We incorporate Angono’s COVID-19 response and recognize the doctors, nurses and [law] enforcers who had died and who are still with us in this fight,” said municipal tourism officer John Robert Ducabo.


Online parade

It will remain a surprise how the “giants” will wear hospital suits until the Higantes Festival kicks off on Oct. 31.

Ducabo said the celebration would start with a program, attended by less than 10 local officials at the municipal hall grounds, that would be aired live on the town’s official Facebook page at 3 p.m.

He said only 10 to 15 higantes, which the municipal government owns, would be displayed this year, far from more than 100 giant effigies traditionally paraded on festival day.

Quarantine protocols had since been eased in Rizal, with 10,461 cases (2,088 active) as of Oct. 27, but “we don’t want to risk people going out of their homes if we push [through with] the street parade,” Ducabo said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

Makers affected

Normally, the municipal government would rent these higantes from local makers for the parade that was usually held in the third week of November.

“It’s just too sad that we wouldn’t be able to do that this year,” Ducabo said.


Angono is known as the country’s art capital and home to National Artists Carlos “Botong” Francisco (painting) and Lucio San Pedro (music).

Its version of the higantes traces its roots to the Spanish era and was later celebrated in honor of the town’s patron saint, St. Clement, during the week preceding the local fiesta celebration on Nov. 23.

It also became a thanksgiving tradition after World War II. The municipal government formally started the Higantes Festival in 2013.

Ducabo said the pandemic that broke out in March shuttered over the last seven months the art galleries and museums in the town that used to bring in visitors, mostly students.

To help higantes makers, Ducabo said the local government would put on display some works, among them by artist Totie Argana who is known for making macabre effigies, at the public cemetery. Argana’s works will be displayed on Oct. 31 in time for All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

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In April and May, the tourism office held a virtual exhibit of the works of local visual artists.The local government also features local products and food from Angono in a weekly program on Facebook.

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TAGS: Angono, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Festival, frontliner, Higantes, pandemic, Rizal

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