Higalaay: Parade of icons-A A +A
By Bobby Lagsa
Sunday, August 25, 2013
IT IS a race against time as Errol Balcos and his ragtag team of artists, sewers and sculptures moved in an incoherent ways to finish and deliver before Tuesday’s the 18 Higalas (friends) of Cagayan de Oro in time for the Higalaay (Friendship) Parade of Icons Festival.
Glue guns, knives, paints brush and large sizes of styrofoam cluttered on the ground and in the corner at the back of the city tourism office.
Errol is orchestrating the buzzing and goings of his team, checking on the wires that act as bust frames for the giant higalas.
Two master sewers cut and sew the “get-up” of Higala aided by period photographs of the giant paper and fiber glass machè.
On a steel post, the names of the Higalas are posted. Two of them would not make it to the street parade on Tuesday. “There is not enough time,” Errol said as he moved to another bust form, in his hand was a mixture of paint and water, he was about to paint the face of another Higala.
The commissioning to sculpt 20 Higala for the city fiesta only started on August 4, just three weeks before the parade.
The tasks at hand is bigger than the 20 feet Higala – materials needed to construct arrived only on August 4, “It’s supposed to start in July, but there was some problem with the release of funds,” Errol shared.
Nonetheless, his team moved with an efficiency that could match at well-oiled machine.
Errol is confident that he can deliver on time all that was necessary for the successful staging of the annual street parade, this time – the Higalas that has replaced the street dancing festival.
According to Eileen San Juan, chair of the city fiesta celebration, the concept of the Higala parade is in line to give due recognition to the people that made Cagayan de Oro what it is today – the regional capital of culture, trade and commerce and industry.
“This year's fiesta celebration highlights: HIGALAAY: The Kagay-an Festival 2013. The celebration aims at taking time to seek out friends, making new friends and going beyond self-interests to be friends for others. The festive comprises of different core events,” San Juan added.
“They are not just names of streets in the city, they are men and women who shared their talents and time to the city and dedicated their lives to the protection of our city,” San Juan said during a press briefing at the city tourism office last week.
“Do we know who the Tiano brothers are? There are three of them, we named a street in honor of their sacrifices for the city,” San Juan added.
Errol also shared that a group of city historians named the influential people that is included in the list of the first 20.
Eighteen of the original 20 giant higala will troop the streets of the city on Tuesday, August 27.
A man and woman Higaonon will represent the peace loving origin of the city’s original inhabitants.
The Higaonon people are spread from the mountains of Bukidon and the coastal areas of Misamis Oriental.
Datu Salangsang, a Higanonon Datu who ruled the river communities of Kagayha-an to which the city is built upon.
Fray Agustin de San Pedro, the first priest to establish the current site of the city proper.
San Agustin, the city’s patron and the first doctor of the church.
San Agustin’s mother, Santa Monica and the Birhen sa Cota, the defender in times of disaster and calamity will also grace the city parade.
The city’s first mayor, Tirso Neri and Colonel Apolinar Velez, the only Filipino military commander who successfully routed an entire battalion of American soldiers during the Philippine-American war at the battle of Macahambus.
The Jesuit Archbishop Santiago Hayes who led in the reconstruction of the city in its current shape.
The three Tiano Brothers –- Ronaldo, Nestor and Apollo –- Three World War II veterans hero defended the city against the Japanese. Apoo Tiano also saw action in the Korea war 60 years ago.
The last municipal mayor and first city mayor of Cagayan de Oro City Max Suniel will also join the parade.
Emmanuel Pelaez, former vice president of the country.
The farmer and fisher folk of Cagayan de Oro who continually provide ample supply of food will also be represented.
And the only modern time figure that is included in the parade are the white water rafters which have become the city’s tourism trademark.
Cagayanons are excited for the Higalaay Parade of Icons which bears resemblance of Angono Rizal’s joyous fiesta in honor of San Clemente whose image, resplendent in papal investment, is borne by male devotees in a procession accompanied by parehadoras devotees dressed in colorful local costumes, wooden shoes and carrying boat paddles and higantes, giant paper mache effigies. The street event culminates in fluvial procession at the Laguna de Bay amidst revelry that continues until the image is brought back to its sanctuary.
With the new city administration, things have been made different, but the essence has remained.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 25, 2013.