FOR the first time in the 11 years of the Bonga Festival, its organizers included other sectors in the ritual showdown this year, held recently in Sibonga town.
This year, the town’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) group, BAHKLAH or Bahagi Ka sa Lahat, won the street dancing competition of the non-school-based category.
The Sibonga National High School (NHS) topped the school-based category. Winning groups took home P10,000 each.
Fourteen contingents, including 10 elementary and secondary public schools, competed in the festival last Aug. 9.
Mangyan NHS and Sabang Elementary School ruled the high school and elementary category, respectively, in the ritual showdown.
Both schools earned P20,000 each.
Fast and fluid
Their fast-paced and well-coordinated dancing made the Mangyan NHS win the top prize in the ritual showdown category.
But Sabang Elementary School drew high praise from the judges who were pleased by the team’s Chinese-inspired costumes and props.
Both the Sibonga Central Elementary School and Sibonga NHS won first runner-up in the same category.
Other elementary schools that participated were Tubod Elementary School and Manatad Elementary School.
Participants in the high school category were the Teodoro Dela Vega Memorial High School in Barangay Papan; Don Julian Enad Memorial High School in Barangay Lamacan; and Simala National High School in Barangays Simala and Lindogon.
Aside from BAHKLAH, other groups that joined the competition were the senior citizens, a women’s organization and beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
Sibonga Mayor Lionel Bacaltos told Sun.Star Cebu he included members of the town’s various sectors because he wants everyone to be part of the festival. He said that it was the first time that other groups were taken in.
Bonga means fruit in Cebuano. Bacaltos said that the festival is a form of prayer to the town’s patron saints for progress and a bountiful harvest in terms of fruits, vegetables and fish.
Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, who was a guest of the festival, urged the participants to continue to raise the bar and improve the Bonga Festival.
The festival, which shows Sibonga’s pride as a fruit-planting town, is often done during the town’s feast in honor of St. Philomena and the Lady of the Pillar.