Udyakan Festival: A fulfilling cultural journey

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Thursday, July 3, 2014


THE City of Kabankalan will celebrate its 9th Udyakan Festival starting August 2, in time for the celebration of its 17th Charter Anniversary.

Udyakan Festival is a weeklong celebration of songs and dances, as well as an agro-industrial fair that showcases the indigenous products of its farmers. Creative booths are constructed by 32 barangays to showcase their products.

The colorful Udyakan Festival was created in 2005 to show to the world the rich cultural heritage of Kabankalan, which was named the ‘Little Spain of Negros’ many years ago.

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The creation of Udyakan was led by then Councilor Raul Rivera and Dr. Enigardo Legislador of the Kabankalan City Cultural and Tourism Foundation, Inc (KCCTFI).

It became a showcase of different cultural and traditional arts of its barangays—exhibits, cultural programs, and festival dances.

In 2012, Udyakan won second place in the “Best of Festival Dances” competition of the Panaad sa Negros Festival. It further brought honor to Kabankalan for winning as third best tourism event in the country in the same year.

The Udyakan Festival committee also organized the Udyakan Dance Theater Company which had its successful international maiden performance at the “Barrio Fiesta” of Darwin, Australia, where it received a five-minute standing ovation.

The Udyakan contingent was under the helm of John Mark Alpay of Southland College and Jerson Fernandez of Kabankalan Catholic College as choreographers, with this writer (the artistic director of Kalingaw: Ang Teatro Hiligaynon of West Negros University) as researcher, composer and director.

At the heart of Udyakan festivities are the following objectives:
to rediscover the cultural roots of Kabankalan City and develop cultural awareness among Kabankalanons; to promote tourism; to act as a regulatory body and facilitate city’s cultural activities; to preserve and protect traditional and local cultural heritage and values; to serve as repository of the arts and traditional, historical, and cultural artifacts; and to promote globally the artistic cultural roots of Kabankalan City through the development and strengthening of local talents.

In 2012, I discovered a very rich tradition of balsa barter trading between Ayungon, Negros Oriental and Barangay Tan-awan in Kabankalan every Friday of the week.

The cultural and traditional exchanges this trading system brought to the lowlands of Barangay Tan-awan is worth studying. This activity became the focus of Udyakan presentations in 2012 and 2013.

The 2014 Udyakan is likewise a great challenge because I found a rich archeological site in the wilderness of Tabugon, a barangay in Kabankalan that has many magnificent caves.

I also discovered a tribal dance and music there which I integrated into Tabugon’s Panabog Festival music for its December 2014 celebration. The dance step is now integrated in this year’s Udyakan.

Soon, I will open a new study in Barangays Daanbanua and Binicuil on its arts and culture.

As Kabankalan City celebrates the 17th year of its cityhood and fulfilling its promise of progress to its people, so is Udyakan Festival delivering its promise for nine years of a fulfilling cultural journey. (Ismael Java)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 03, 2014.

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