HALLELUJAH, bulan!” shouted a group of artists to the full moon, while dancing at the Mambukal Resort in the summer of 1986.

Intoxicated, they would dab their faces and bodies with volcanic clay and dance and laugh to wild abandon.

This group of Negrense artists, led by theater director-actors Rudy Reveche and Louie Dormido, would turn out to be the originators and founders of the Mudpack Festival.

Reveche recalls that they had planned to hold a mid-summer festival at Mambukal Resort that Saturday of May 1986.

The festival would include a bathing beauty showcase, a cultural presentation by their theater group and circle of friends from the performing and visual arts, and a binayle.

On full-moon nights prior to the mid-summer festival, clad in colorful wrap-around patadyongs, they would hang out at the Ishiwata bath house grounds to rehearse their presentation and to brainstorm on the manpower and logistics needed for the event over bottles of beer and rum and fried frogs.

The brainstorming would become a free-wheeling banter and tribal-inspired music and dance jam.

“It was in those wild nights that the multi-colored clay of Mambukal would leave its indelible mark in our lives,” Reveche says.

“That one-day mid-summer festival was memorable not just for our group, but also to the residents of Murcia, who drove to the resort to support us, and for some Negros artists who had been a part of the Mudpack Festival until now,” he recalls.

The first organized Mudpack Festival was in 1996, when Reveche and Dormido were tapped by the Negros Integrated Development Corporation (Nidcorp) as consultants and event managers for the festival. (Nidcorp had leased the Mambukal Resort from the Provincial Capitol in the 1990s.)

The management decided to hold it annually every third weekend of June. It was an appropriate choice of date since June is declared as World Environment Month, and the Provincial Environment Week is also celebrated on the third week of June.

“Since then, we still dance, drink and dab our bodies with the invigorating clay of Mambukal during the festival,” Reveche says.

Indeed, 28 summers had passed by, but the activities at the 18th Mudpack Festival held over the weekend, June 21 and 22, had the same concept and vigor as that of the mid-summer festival in 1986.

Basically, the center of the celebration is Mambukal’s distinct multi-colored clay. It is the common ingredient that spices up all the activities of the festival.

The competitions for two days center on clay: installation/performance art, solo dance improvisation, clay boy painting, photo contest, poster-making contest for kids, mixed media art, tribal dance, and drumbeating.

On Saturday night, partygoers went “wet and wild” courtesy of the Mudpack rains and the bands at the Ishiwata bathouse.

This year, newbies had clinched the top slots in several categories, Reveche said.

Kim Plantillo and his team from Colegio San Agustin-Bacolod bested previous year’s winners Samuel Ira and Patrick Payumo in the installation-performance art competition.

Tribu Kagayon and Daryl Odango won the championship trophies in the tribal dance group and solo dance improvisations, respectively, beating perennial winner Tribu Poseidon which carried the name Tribu Pahanocoy this year.

Here is the complete list of winners:

Poster-making Competition for Kids: Kiara Ferrer—first, Kyla Gensolin—second, Alyx-Z Buenavista—third;

Mixed Media Art: Redmond Nazareno—first, Enrico Brual—second, Reginald Nazareno—third;

Tribal Dance Competition: Tribu Kagayon—first, Tribu Liso—second, Tribu Oca—third;

Drumbeating Competition—Tribu Norte—first, Tribu ni Utod Junior—second, Bacolod City Drum beaters—third;

Installation Art: Kim Peter Plantillo—first, Samuel Ira—second, Patrick Payumo—third;

Photo Contest (Mambukal Sceneries and Landscape): Elmer Gustilo—first, Ronnie Baldonado—second and third;

Solo Dance Improvisation: Daryll Odangco—first, Andro Agtoto—second, Joey Rufino—third;

Clay body-painting: Gerlad Miaga—first, Samuel Iral—second, Danilo Gatucao--third

This year’s theme, “Saving, Healing and Celebrating Mother Earth” had again emphasized the harmony of man and nature by stirring the people’s awareness on the importance of environment.

All in all, the 18th Mudpack Festival was another “muddy” gathering of artists and nature lovers who are “mad about mud.”