Lanzones: the sweetest gift to the Island Born of Fire

RESOLUTIONS are born and made each time there is a new year. Planning a trip to Camiguin might be a refreshing start to the coming year.

Aside from its rich culture, Camiguin is blessed with beautiful scenery to be discovered. What makes it more inviting is the allure of its laid back surroundings. Known as the Island Born of Fire, the province also became famous because of its lanzones fruit.

Legend says that a young boy came across a lanzones tree, which was believed to be poisonous. Without him knowing, the boy ate the fruit and died. With the diwatas’ (fairies) magical powers, the boy was brought back to life and the lanzones tree cleansed of poison, making its fruits the way it is known today. Locally known as buahan, Camiguin lanzones are considered as the sweetest in the Philippines and have become the province’s trademark.

According to provincial tourism officer Candice Naomi B. Dael, the fruits are sweet because of the sulfuric element in the soil enriched by the volcanoes on the island. The most well-known of which is Mt. Hibok-Hibok, the only active volcano that last erupted in 1951. Whether it is the volcanic elements in the soil or the powers of the diwatas, the fact remains that the lanzones of Camiguin are the sweetest of all.

What started as a simple display of local products and a showcase of native dances at the Provincial Plaza in Mambajao in 1979 has flourished into what is known today as the Lanzones Festival. Yves Dann Romualdo, vice-chairman of the promotions and marketing committee said the theme of the 36th Lanzones Festival was Kinaiyahan Atong Ampingan Kalamboan Alang Sa Tanan (Nature is for us to care for, progress is for all). Celebrations lasted a week, from Oct. 18-25, with an Inter-Agency Street Dancing Competition and tableau held on Oct. 24.

There were eight contingents. Each was able to depict their own version of a fight scene between a kabog (bat), and a diwata (fairy). Jackie Cutab, a local tourist, said that the street dancing this year was more fun and exciting compared to last year. Noticeable was how each contingent was united during the competition as officials and some residents served as human barricades while they performed.

In the afternoon, the Camiguin Sports Complex, where the tableau competition was held, was overflowing with people from different walks of life. Contingents were given three minutes to prepare before they started performing. The audience’s excitement filled the air. People cheered their own contingents. From the beating of drums, to costumes, choreography, jaw-dropping surprises at every execution and colorful presentation of props, the tableau became a tough competition for participants.

Mahinog National High School was proclaimed best in Street Dancing and was also awarded best in Festival Queen. Special awards were given to Fatima College of Camiguin for best in Costume, Mambajao National High School for best in Headdress, and Yumbing National High School as the Liveliest Contingent. Consolation prizes were given to non-winning contingents.

In the tableau or ground competition, last year’s winner, Yumbing National High School once again emerged as the grand champion of this year’s festival.

Prior to the street dancing, Cinderella Faye Obeñita was crowned as 2015 Miss Buahanan. Rey Home Flores bested other amateur and professional photographers as he was announced the winner of the newly-launched photo contest. Barangay Pandan of Mambajao was also adjudged the winner of Kalandrakas sa Kabataan, a street dancing and tableau competition among elementary students.

The Lanzones Festival was able to attract more tourists. The Department of Tourism -Region 10 awarded Camiguin for having the most number of tourist arrivals in Northern Mindanao in 2014. According to Gabriel Salon, in-charge of tourist arrivals, more than 50,000 tourists were able to visit during the start of the celebration. The influx of tourists resulted in the shortage of hotel accommodations. Ronilo Satulombon, marketing officer of Paras Beach Resort, said the resort where he was working was already full during the street dancing competition.

The festival is also a big contributing factor in generating income and employment for the local farmers. It is also a way of getting tourists to explore the entire island of Camiguin. One can visit diverse, scenic spots like the White Island, Mantigue Island, Ardent Hibok-Hibok Spring, Katibawasan Falls and embark on water and land adventures. The island is a perfect place to reconnect with nature and create wonderful moments with family and friends.

Not just a showcase of talents, the Lanzones Festival is a symbol of how united the Camiguinons are and how they preserve their environment and cultural heritage despite globalization. What started as a legend has become the sweetest gift to the Island Born of Fire. Julius D. Rañoa


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