WHAT started out as a religious Catholic celebration in honor of a patron saint, St. Augustine, since the beginning of Cagayan de Oro, it has become a diversified annual event for everyone, calling it “Higala-ay Festival” - a celebration of history, diversity, food, and bounty.
There were activities for the public to cherish, as well as long-held traditions of a fiesta are still observed by some. And like any other festivals in the country, it hoped that there will be influx of tourists to arrive and witness the festivities, as well as taste the local products awaiting discovery and financial success.
Being the gateway of Northern Mindanao region, it is expected for the city to cater different themes and delicacies of not only the city, but throughout the region; highlighting cultures not only for the recent Catholic settlers, but the indigenous roots coming from the Higaonon and Meranaw, infusing them to the modernity of the city’s vibrancy.
Thus, this is now the challenge: almost every city, town, and province has its own set of festivals. Higala-ay is almost not different to other festivals - street interpretative dancing, float parades, beauty contests, food fests, among others.
And like in any festivals, it is trying to stay relevant, hoping it can still create an impact to its locals and visitors every year. The pressure is real for organizers and the local government.
August is “Buwan ng Wika” or a national month of language. But unlike in the recent decade that it is only exclusive to one language, Tagalog-Filipino, it is now an opportunity to rekindle our mother tongue languages coming from different regions. It is also a time to explore other languages of the different provinces of the country.
May this month also be an opportunity to rekindle the old and forgotten writing system - the “baybayin,” formerly called as “alibata” (some scholars disputed its use).
A bill was filed in Congress to make baybayin official writing system of the Filipino and must be used in government agencies. It was also proposed in the said bill that it must be taught in schools.
There is a ray of hope into this move, prior to the bill, different language and cultural groups have been advocating the use of baybayin. Artists are doing it in their calligraphy graphic designs, and tattoos as well.
It is just a matter of time that sooner, getting back to writing the old Filipino texts will become mainstream again, a step closer to be redeemed of who we are as Filipinos.
You are not alone if you are confused in the recent events unfolding in the country and the world. We are at a limbo, always have been since civilizations fermented human behavior and mores.
Maybe there were times in our lives that we missed, when everything was carefree or fueled with passion and optimism.
There were also times of distress, and being trapped of problems we thought of not breaking free from them.
Have patience, and be calm.