THE municipality of Villanueva celebrates its town fiesta, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, from December 9 to 13 this year with a series of activities.
Last December 11, 2015, the town held its first Bongloy Festival Street Dancing Competition which was participated by eleven barangays held at the town basketball court fronting the church.
“Gikalipay gyud nako ug dako na finally na change and name,” said Department of Tourism Regional Director, Catalino E. Chan III, who was espousing for an original-themed festival for Villanueva versus the Mardi Gras inspired festivities it had been doing in the previous years.
He went on to share the history of Villanueva which was once known as Bongloy because of the many bongloy trees found in the area. The place was renamed after a certain Mexican-American soldier, Captain Villanueva. He was asked by Father Gregorio Parache, S.J., the parish priest of Jasaan at that time, to assist him in the planning and development of potable water and irrigation system in Bongloy.
As the years passed, the Magahat natives started calling Bongloy as Villanueva in honor of the captain. The history of the municipality has been handed down from one generation to the next through word of mouth and, according to town old-timers, both Father Parache and Captain Villanueva had been instrumental in getting the warring tribes in the area to create peaceful relationships.
“We are so proud that in the whole region of Northern Mindanao, this is the only street festival na gi-held sa gabii,” said Chan.
He hopes that in the next two to three years, DOT will be able to include Bongloy Festival in the list of DOT accredited festivals in the Philippines.
“Next year, muhatag mi ug 10,000 pesos sa contingent na muhatag ug maayong storya sa presentation sa street dancing ug sa tableau para makita gyud kong gi-unsa ug interpret ang atong history. Ug hinaut unta na mangita ta ug real Villanueva beat,” he furthered.
Aside from Chan, the event was attended by Mayor Julio Uy, Misamis Oriental 2nd District Representative Juliette Uy, as well as the rest of the municipal officers and barangay captains.
The 11 barangay contingents, in their creative and colorful costumes, headgears, and props, gave their all during the competition. The dancers were all energetic and smiling, and were all enthusiastic in their interpretation of the Bongloy story.
In trying to outdo one another, they presented intricate formations with one barangay even bringing in an actual ‘bangka’ during the dance.
Small town camaraderie reigned supreme during the event with each barangay being composed of an eclectic 20 to 30 dancers, both young and old with parents and their kids participating. It was truly a night of Villanueva culture and history on display.
Teams were judged based on mastery and execution, creativity and uniqueness of chorography, adaptation of the Bongloy story, the costumes and props, and musicality.
The night’s big winners were Barangay Balacanas, 3rd place; Barangay Imelda placing 2nd, and the Grand Champion, Barangay Poblacion 1. They were also the winners in last year’s Mardi Gras competition.
Poblacion 1 won a cash prize of 50,000 pesos and a trophy. After the winners were announced, the Villanueva night sky was peppered with bright lights from a spectacular fireworks display.
“It’s overwhelming,” said Odi Parataman, from Poblacion 1, “We didn’t expect na mahitabo ni sa amo. Actually, wala mi nag-expect na kami ang makadaog. Nawala ang kakapoy. Three weeks, four weeks na practice, worth it kaayo.”
He added, “Very proud ko na from Villanueva ko. Nindot puy-an, life is here, kung baga.”
“Sa Villanueva, makita nimo na happy ang mga tao. Then in terms sa kalingawan, naay unity, panaghini-usa,” said Erlon Casiño adding that the event was fun, “Bibo kaayo. Sa ingon ani na pamaagi, malingaw ang mga tao ug usa pod siya sa highlights sa among fiesta.”
“Atong gipalawom ang atong tema nga ang panaghi-usa moy dalan sa kalambo-an,” said Mayor Uy.
“Para atong ipakita sa tanan barangay, ang mga lumulopyo sa tanan barangay nagkahi-usa. Kay kung dili sila magkahi-usa, maslisod nato makab-ot ang development or kalambo-an,” said the mayor adding that since he started serving Villanueva in the ‘90s, there has been a lot of development and changes in the community.
“Sa paningkamot sa mga lungsoranon, possible sa sunod tuig, mahimo na kami na 1st class municipality. Tungod kini sa kapaspas sa pag-uswag sa lungsod.”
Mayor Uy furthered that his plans for the succeeding years will include focusing on the youth sector, road concreting of provincial roads, an improvement on the water systems for the barangays, and health care and social services for the town folks.
The activities lined up for the town fiesta included Pinoy Broadway which was the Villanueva Teachers’ Night last December 9th; the drum and bugle presentation, the Youth Night featuring the Bongloy Performance Arts Guild and Purok Youth Organization, and the Night Café on the 10th; a boxing at the park event and a live drama presentation on the 12th; and, the Fluvial Mass and Sayaw Ta Uy! Party on the 13th.