40,000 participate in Etag Festival-A A +A
By Carl Taawan
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
FORTY thousand tourists, traders, and guests participated in the five-day Etag Festival with the theme “Cultural identity, the Strength of our Community” where Sagada folks showcased their unique culture and local products.
The celebration was staged February 2-6 and participated by the town’s 19 barangays. Delegates included the Baguio City National High School, the Kabayan Bendian Dance Troupe, Philippine Muay Thai Federation, the Bike Race National Delegation, La Trinidad, Philippine Olympic Committee-Indigenous Sports, online group Decat Worldwide and Rambak Cordillera.
The festival kicked off with the opening of etag (smoked meat) booths. An art gallery, featuring Sagada visual artists James Wandag, David Fowler, Eugene Magsino, and Janet Eason and works of Sagada potters Lope Bosaing, Siegried Bangyay-Rogers, and Tessie Baldo, opened on the first day of the celebration. The exhibits were displayed at the newly inaugurated municipal building.
“The activity is meant to promote local products including ‘etag’ and coffee, and to further affirm the local culture as the guiding framework to community development and Sagada as a tourist destination of the country,” Vice Mayor Richard Yodong, chair of the festival’s executive committee, said.
The ceremonial presentation of Christ at the Temple and Purification of the Blessed Virgin observed every February 2 was celebrated with a parade by women from the Episcopal Church, the brotherhood of St. Andrew and the local government officials. A Bible quiz bee followed participated by students in the municipality. In the evening was a choir festival.
It was followed by a Muay Thai tournament graced by Muay Thai legend Sane Tubtimtong who choreographed the popular movie Beautiful Boxer and Ong Bak. He also choreographed the Philippine TV series Asian Treasures.
February 3 opened with a civic parade by members of the local government units. The Baguio City National High School Rondalla and cultural group amazed the crowd with their world class cultural presentations at the community court. The BCNHS Rondalla has earned prestige when it won a national competition in Mindanao last year.
Yodong said that by inviting the national winners, he hopes “it will help the local educators improve the presentation of the local students to higher standards.
“In the years to come, it will be us who will amaze the visitors with our presentations,” the vice mayor predicted.
The event was followed by the Miss Sagada beauty pageant coordinated by Bernard Makellay and Divine Sibayan. It was won by Marlene Odanga from Sagada Central Zoen, followed by 1st runner-up Monique Polon from South Central Zone and 2nd runner-up Jemalyn Lawiyan from Eastern Zone.
The main event on February 4 was a street-dancing parade participated by delegates from the four zones of the municipality, Central Sagada, Southern, Eastern, Northern and South-Central. It was followed by cultural presentations by the street dancers.
The Bendian Dance Troupe led by Mayor Faustino Aquisan of sister municipality Kabayan graced the event with their famous Bendian Dance.
The bikers downhill challenge which commenced on the same day was dominated by Baguio racers with Aky Nolasco winning the professional category. Around 80 bikers participated in the event which started from Danum Lake and on to Lazig Hill to Langsayan Ridge and finally to northern Bangaan barangay. The bike race was aimed to promote environmental protection. It was a private sector organized event led by event organizer Xez Zulueta. It was sponsored by Baguio Uni Ace, Explore Bike Shop and Aky’s Bike Shop with support from the government and concerned agencies.
The Miss Gay Sagada in the evening was won by Norman Bugtong. First runner-up was Fayel Lee Valenciano and second runner-up was Bryant Cuisan-i.
Indigenous games comprised the final part of the event on February 5 and February 6 at the community basketball court. Sanggol (arm wrestling), tulsi (finger wrestling), tinnampak si upu (leg spanking) among others were played by delegates from the four zones of Sagada. The Sagada all mountain challenge on February 6 was participated by 70 bikers.
Simultaneously with the above activities, basketball tournament and other sports fest were held sponsored by SMART Telecommunications.
The National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) sponsored most of the prizes in the cultural presentations and indigenous games.
On February 7, the “Obaya” (sacred day of rest) was performed in the barangays of Madongo, Poblacion, Demang, Dagdag, Ambasing and Balugan. The "obaya" is a sacred indigenous practice meant to cleanse the community of any untoward events which happened during the fiesta. By tradition, local folks declare obaya the day after the conduct of big community gatherings. During these events, no one is allowed to enter the community.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 16, 2012.