La Castellana pushes for cultural tourism development from sitios

NEGROS. Some of the young performers of the 10th Ati-Fabricanus Festival Dance Competition in Sitio Old Fabrica, Barangay Cabagna-an, La Castellana town on Thursday, January 17. (Erwin Nicavera)

THE Municipal Government of La Castellana is banking on festivities among its sitios amid the push to boost cultural tourism from the grassroots level.

Mayor Rhumyla Nicor-Manguilimutan, at the sidelines of the 10th Ati-Fabricanus Festival in Sitio Old Fabrica, Barangay Cabagna-an on Thursday, January 17, said the locals should participate in further developing the town's tourism industry.

Nicor-Manguilimutan said the residents must have knowledge and awareness on the culture and tradition of their respective sitios.

“You cannot know the place if not through its people, thus, they should be encouraged and taught on how to become a promoter of their sitios,” she said.

The mayor added that tourism development from the grassroots level is already included in the municipal government's promotion initiatives.

One of the sustainable tourism activities of La Castellana in the sitio level is the annual Ati-Fabricanus Festival held every January.

First celebrated in 2010, the festivity immortalizes the rich history, culture, and tradition of the Sitio Old Fabrica.

Comparable to Ati-Atihan Festival of Aklan, Dinagyang Festival of Iloilo, and Sinulog Festival of Cebu, the sitio's Ati-Fabricanus Festival also celebrates the people's strong devotion to Señor Sto. Niño.

Ati-Fabricanus is a coined term which means “Ati nga taga Old Fabrica” or people from Old Fabrica.

Saliently, the festival features dancers dressed in “ati” costumes dancing along with giant figures called the “higantes.”

The presence of “higantes” points back to the history of Old Fabrica which was visited by a tall man from Australia named Bell Brodhert in 1978.

Brodhert took part in the sitio's religious activities like procession which, for the residents, have made those gatherings more memorable.

Barangay chairman Arbie Sacapaño said the success of the annual festivity is a result of unity among the people of Sitio Old Fabrica.

For 10 years, the Old Fabricanons' desire to make this festival a success has been consistent, Sacapaño said.

“The number of people witnessing our presentation is increasing every year, we are starting to be known as that of Bailes de Luces Festival of La Castellana,” he added.

For this year, five tribes participated in the Festival Street and Arena Dance Competition.

Tribu Fabricanus is this year's champion. It also won the best in street dancing award.

Tribu Elementarya and Tribu Bacong bagged the second and third places, respectively.

The former also won as best in headdress, tribe and choreography while the latter bagged the best in costume and muse awards.

Recognizing the importance of tourism in sustaining economic growth, the local government considered Ati-Fabricanus Festival as a major cultural tourism event of the barangay along with its other offerings.

In terms of eco-tourism, Barangay Cabagna-an is home to areas for trekking as it is situated at the foot of Mt. Kanlaon.

Nicor-Manguilimutan said they are making the Old Fabrica as model sitio in terms of cultural tourism promotion.

She urged other sitios in the town to also come up with their own festival to complement the town's major tourism activities.

“We really admire the people behind the Ati-Fabrucanus Festival as they were able to create a wonderful festivity despite the limited fund,” Nicor-Manguilimutan added. (EPN)


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