One of the things we Filipinos can be proud of are the festivals in the country. Each one is celebrated with colorful banderitas, street parades and sumptuous feasts. Recently, I was invited to witness the Lambayok Festival in San Juan, Batangas.
Lambayok Festival celebrates the founding anniversary of the municipality of San Juan. It also pays homage to the three growing industry in the area: lambanog (coconut wine), palayok (clay pot) and karagatan (ocean). The last refers not only to the abundant marine industry but also the beach resorts that San Juan is usually visited for.
The theme of 2019’s festival is Saing, Sisid, Barik. It featured a handful of activities, including pottery-making contest, lambanog expo, mural painting contest, cookfest, bartending competition and fun run. A recognition event called Gabi ng Parangal was also held to acknowledge the outstanding San Juanenos who are still active in making lambanog and palayok and in fishing.
Of course, the highlight of any festival is the streetdance. Different dance groups from high school and college performed their routines, wearing costumes and props that depict the said industries. It ended with a showdown held at the Batangas Eastern Colleges.
I’ve only attended a few festivals in the country (See Zamboanga Hermosa Festival in Zamboanga City and Tabak Festival in Tabaco City). The Lambayok Festival is relatively short (3-4 days), but I was surprised by the effort of performers in the streetdance. The dance routine is different in the streetdance and the showdown, and each is graded separately by the judges of the competition. The performances in the showdown are particularly impressive, and the time spent in practicing the moves and preparing the costumes really paid off.
That saying, I think there are still improvements which can be done. For instance, the showdown should have a time limit for every group so it wouldn’t go on for too long. The itinerary in the festival also included overlapping schedules, so some activities are overshadowed for the more appealing ones.
Overall, the Lambayok Festival is a fun celebration that I was glad to see. It also gave me an expanded sight of San Juan, which I’d previously only thought of as a beach destination.
P.S. A huge thanks to the Local Tourism Office of San Juan, Batangas, and Barako PH for inviting me to this event. 🙂
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