LA CASTELLANA'S Bailes de Luces Festival has again brought honor to Negros Occidental, as it took winning spots at the just concluded Sinulog Grand Parade 2020 in Cebu City Sunday, January 19.
Being the only performing group with "dancing lights" element, Bailes de Luces was adjudged third place winner in the free interpretation category (ritual showdown), receiving P500,000 in cash prize.
It also took home P20,000 after bagging the fourth best musicality award.
Mayor Rhumyla Nicor-Manguilimutan, who received the award Monday, January 20, said having just nine days of preparation to join a "very big and worldwide-known festival" was hard.
But Nicor-Manguilimutan said because of the support, prayers and concerted efforts from all members of the team, everything turned easy.
"I am happy and proud because for a short period of time, we have proven that we can make it," she said, adding that competing with some of the most well-known cities is already a big honor.
Known as the "Festival of Lights," Bailes de Luces is a celebration of thanksgiving. It has been compared to the Rio De Janeiro Carnival of Brazil.
From its humble beginning in 2000, Bailes de Luces, Spanish for Dances of Lights, is now one of the most known festivals in the country.
For the people of La Castellana, the dances and transitions of lights also symbolize hope for them and a guide for the town in its aspiration for a better future.
Also, the dances trace back the history of the festival, which was first popularized by using "sulo" or fire torch as the main source of lights.
Nicor-Manguilimutan said joining in Cebu's Sinulog Festival is one way of promoting not only Bailes de Luces itself but also the town and province, as well the local tourism sector.
She expressed optimism that their participation spurred the interests of more local and international tourists to visit La Castellana and Negros Occidental.
For the mayor, the recent feat of Bailes de Luces shows that the festival can really compete in other areas, in and outside the country.
In 2012, it has conquered the national stage when it competed for the inter-town finals of ABS-CBN's "It's Showtime."
In September 2019, the town's Bailes de Luces won first place in the foreign category of the Wonju Dynamic Dancing Carnival in Wonju City, South Korea.
Nicor-Manguilimutan said they are now preparing for the Intercontinental Dance Contest small group category happening in Rome, Italy in April this year.
The event is an international dance contest gathering at least 100 performing groups all over the world.
Of the P500,000 cash prize they received from joining the Sinulog, P200,000 will be given to the dancers.
Nicor-Manguilimutan said the remaining P300,000 will be intended as an added fund for their upcoming participation in Italy.
"Bailes de Luces has become a major tourism offering of the town, it has boosted the tourism industry of Negros Occidental," she said, reiterating that the Municipal Government is really working on bringing the festival in the global scene.
Meanwhile, the Pintaflores Festival of San Carlos City, also in Negros Occidental, also won as fourth place in the free interpretation category (ritual showdown).
Contingents from Tangub City and Barangay Basak San Nicolas, Cebu City were named champions in this year's Sinulog Grand Parade.
The Sinanduloy Cultural Troupe of Tangub City, Misamis Occidental bagged the first prize in the Sinulog-based category, while Lumad Basakanon of Barangay Basak San Nicolas won the Free Interpretation category.
There were a total of 105 participants in this year's grand parade, 31 of which are contingents for the Sinulog-based and Free Interpretation categories.
Of the 31 contingents, seven came from Cebu province, 16 from Cebu City, and eight out-of-town groups. Each showcased their Sinulog performances in colorful costumes.
Aside from the ritual showdown, 43 floats, 12 puppeteers and 19 higantes joined this year's grand parade. (With reports from SunStar Cebu)