COLOR filled the streets bathed in the heat of the sun.

Their movement—fast, almost a blur—was ever in tune to the beat of the drums and the melodic sound of the bugle. “Viva, San Jose! Saulog Tagbilaran!” was their collective cry, giving thanks to their patron saint as well as proving their patronage to the city that they call home.

Saulog Tagbilaran is on its fourth year and it just gets even better. From the costumes to their street dances to the actual field performance, the contingents that hailed from 15 barangays in Tagbilaran City, Bohol, continued to wow the audience with surprise twists and tricks that make for a holistic kind of entertainment—one that’s founded in prayer through the city’s patron saint, St. Joseph the Worker, and love for one’s city.

This year’s festival was even grander than its previous years. Mayor John Geesnell “Baba” Yap made sure to incorporate today’s technology in the celebration through the use of large LED screens onstage that played well-produced videos that introduced each barangay’s uniqueness and unity right before each performance. Social media was also utilized to promote the event through live streaming.

“And also we were expecting more from the contingents because we gave more for their financial assistance this year (P350,000 per contingent). The friendly competition is there sa mga barangay,” he said.

And the 15 barangays certainly gave it their all through their colorful performances at the CPG Sports Complex that was a feast for the eyes itself.

Barangay Ubujan was exempted in this year’s competition for being the grand champion for the past three Saulog festivals in 2014, 2015 and 2016. They gave a wonderful special performance for the crowd during the competition.

This year’s champion was a sea of red as Barangay San Isidro performed a heartfelt and romantic piece about finding love and eventually marriage, all along centered in prayer for St. Joseph the Worker. It was a blast watching the five-minute performance that had well-oiled transitions that seemed to explode in beautiful colors.

Incorporating the four basic steps of the ritual dance—pangurus, pagsipilya and pagdukduk, paghalad and pagsaulog—that stem from carpentry, inspired by St. Joseph the Worker who was a carpenter, Barangay San Isidro told a story that captivated its onlookers through intricate props, costumes and fast-paced dancing and prop transitions.

Tagbilaran seems to hold the best fiestas in the country—houses filled with food and drink are open to everyone, a string of activities entertain and bring joy to the people, and the city is always friendly and welcoming to guests and locals alike.

This year, they had several small activities lined up during the course of the Saulog Festival week, among them, a motocross competition, dragon boat race, street party, barangay cook off and fluvial parade. “We have a lot of activities lined up because we want everyone to know that it’s fiesta time and it’s time for celebration,” Mayor Baba said.

Boholanos have always loved to celebrate their fiestas, what with a month-long fiesta all over the island of Bohol.

“If you have friends and relatives who are from Bohol who are working in other places, during the time of the fiesta in their place, they will always go home. If it’s fiesta, they really need to go home. That’s why our celebration is always at the heart of tradition,” Mayor Baba shared.

The festival, as well as the fiesta, are also proof that even if Bohol is beset with dire conditions, it will always stand up and face adversity head on as one. Nothing can break its spirit and love for celebration, piously praying to God and their patron saints for a better tomorrow.


Winners

▪ Grand champion – Barangay San Isidro

▪ 2nd place – Barangay Poblacion 3

▪ 3rd place – Barangay Tiptip

▪ 4th place – Barangay Taloto

▪ 5th place – Barangay Cogon

Minor Awards

▪ Best in Street Dancing - Barangay San Isidro

▪ Best in music - Barangay San Isidro

▪ Best in Choreography - Barangay San Isidro

▪ Best in Production Design- Barangay Poblacion 3

▪ Best in Costume - Barangay Poblacion 3

▪ Best in Field Performance - Barangay San Isidro