Panagbenga 2009 Photos and Videos

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Check this out. I'm seeing photos and videos of the street dancing competitions for Baguio City's Panagbenga 2009 Festival in the VDO webpage. More than 20 schools participated in the parade, and Baguio played host to 300,000 visitors during the week. The float competition starts March 1. The first float to roll down Session Road will be that of the Baguio Country Club (BCC). The cost for this massive float alone is a staggering P320,000 - add this to the P170,000 bill for the accompanying dancers and their costumes and you have the BCC spending almost half a million pesos for this year's celebration!


Sagada Fiesta - Sports, Cheering, and School Rivalries

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sagada Fiesta(Above photo is a collage of icons from the Paul Villegas' Sagada Fiesta Galleries.)

During my elementary years (and that was in the mid to late 80s) and I believe until now, Sagada fiestas were filled up with sport competitions. The fiesta program shows the schedule of volleyball, baseball, softball, and basketball games and watching or participating in these can be enough to fill up a day. There were also the sprinting races generally held at the last day of the fiesta. I only knew of 100-meter dash at the baseball ground; Sagada doesn't have a track for the longer events. If one is near the town center, the PA system is heard broadcasting matches that will soon be starting or about to start. The calls would go like this - "First call for boys baseball. Sagada Central School vs Antadao Elementary School." or this - "Last call for women's volleyball. Sagada ECW vs Besao ECW". I don't recall if they ever broadcast the results over the PA system.

I probably am included in the less than 1% of Philippine males that do not play basketball. (This is a noteworthy blog post in the future if someone is interested.) But I was fast enough to finish fourth in the 100m dash against taller opponents. I probably would have won had I not started school 2 years earlier and had to compete with boys a year or two older than me. (Now that's a good excuse, hehe.) I also had good hand-eye coordination enough to make the volleyball team as a regular player when I was in 5th grade. That means I beat out some 6th graders for the team. That would have been enough to make me proud if I didn't have a teammate who was in the 3rd grade. This boy, who goes by the initials FK, is probably the youngest ever volleyball player from our school. He was short for the team but had very good anticipation and placed the ball well. His mother was the high school principal and I saw him practicing with high school students before he even entered elementary school. Not fair.

CHEERING. Sagada didn't have the drum-beating-boosters-and-pompom-type-squads that constituted the cheering I learned as a student in Manila. What was there were normally a group of mostly women and girls, normally led by a teacher or so, and they would sit outside the playing area and sing some jingles. The opposing team, if they're fortunate to have a cheering group too, would sit in the opposite side. So if you're watching a softball game, you'd hear the following being sung while a player would walk up to bat:

"Bat that ball, bat that ball,
Name of School would bat that ball,
Name of School would bat that ball,
And we will win, the game today."

Gee, that sounded lame having to hum it while writing it down, hahaha. Still, I remember it sounding just right at that time. It probably is not that bad if delivered as a chant, as opposed to a jingle, and accompanied by drums. Anyway, that particular cheer would be cut off had the player actually hit the ball and was running towards the 1st base. Or, the 3rd line would just be muted had the player struck out. That cheer applied also to volleyball to basketball. Just change the lines to "Serve that ball" or "Shoot that ball" as needed.

One of the funnier cheers though, especially if a player hit a clean ball and the opposing team is scrambling to get that ball is this:

"The ball went over the mountain, the ball went over the mountain,
The ball went over the mountain, (high note being held here...)
To see the carabao. To see the carabao, to see the carabao.
The ball went over the mountain, the ball went over the mountain,
The ball went over the mountain, To see the carabao."

Ah! That was fun. I've also actually heard it sang as a taunt when a volleyball player overhit a serve or a return and it went way beyond wide.As a student of Sagada Central School, a.k.a. Bomabanga, and since we lived in the central barangays of Sagada, it was natural for me to cheer for my sisters' teams from St. Mary's School. With the creation of the Sagada National High School, there are now 2 high schools in the central barangays. It would be interesting to know which high school someone from Bomabanga would cheer on.Of my 3 sisters, only one was a varsity in high school. St. Mary's had dominating teams while I was growing up, but there were years where I'd wish we lived somewhere else. The softball team of our oldest sister during their senior high school year was really terrible. They'd lose by more than 10 runs to teams that they used to dominate in previous years.

School Rivalries. I remember a couple of interesting rivalries. In volleyball - it was Tetep-an versus the central schools, for both boys and girls volleyball in elementary and high school. St. Mary's High was virtually untouchable in high school male volleyball thanks largely to the Balanon-trained Guinaang imports. Female volleybelles from St. Mary's, also trained by the same coach, also won 99.99% of the time, but Tetep-an always gave a worthy challenge. In provincial meets, Sagada would most of the time be represented by St. Mary's teams, with one or two players from Tetep-an.

The girls from Bomabanga were also as formidable as their high school counterparts, but the talent was somehow missing for the team during my 6th grade. I will not identify the team. That year, the Tetep-an girls team was vastly superior in all aspects that it was an achievement for Bomabanga to get a third of their total points. As for the boys team, our Bomabanga team beat everyone, including Tetep-an, handily. Eherm!

Another interesting rivalry was between the All Saints Mission school, Bontoc's Anglican elementary school, and Bomabanga. These schools are rivals in Mountain Province in a lot of competitions, both sports and academic. The All Saints team were very strong in softball girls. They've beaten the Bomabanga team several years in a row. On my first Sagada fiesta when I was in 2nd grade, they visited Sagada to play against the Bomabanga team that included my second eldest sister. Somehow that year, the Bomabanga team beat them. If I remember right, it was an ill-tempered game where the losers failed to acknowledge the winning team and just left for Bontoc.

Girls volleyball was also hotly contested between the two teams. I believe that the most talented volleyball's team that Bomabanga has produced was the 1986 team. My sister belonged to that team and in high school, they represented the Cordillera Region in the Palarong Pambansa. However, during the division competition earlier that schoolyear, the All Saints team initially lost to a Sagada team missing their tallest player because apparently, she was deemed overheight. (Yes, there was such a thing!) The match was held in Bontoc, and the losing team complained to their supervisors and wanted a rematch. Somehow, the Sagada coach agreed to a rematch late in the afternoon, and the visiting and fatigued Sagada team lost in 3 tight sets. (Ok, I wasn't there but I knew the players involved.) The second result stood so the All Saints team became the division champions. When they visited Sagada for the fiesta, the Sagada team beat them easily in two straight sets. The whole affair was so bizarre I remember all the details after 20+ years!


Sagada Fiesta - Batanguenos, Pabunot and Parade

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sagada Fiesta(Sagada street dancing during the 2008 Fiesta. Above photo is a screenshot from one of Paul Villegas' Sagada Fiesta galleries.)

The Sagada Fiesta, an annual celebration held every last week of January / first week of February is an event I always looked forward to as a child. I can't confirm it but I'm guessing that the fiesta is actually an Anglican celebration falling either on February 2, or on the Sunday between January 28 and February 3. This religious celebration is marked as the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, or more traditionally, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin. After all, Sagada's patron saint is Saint Mary the Virgin. (Just a disclaimer - I've learned about these occassions from research as an adult, I never knew about this as a child.) February 2 is a special date in our family. It is the birthday of my Grandma Andrea, my paternal grandmother. It also is the birthday of my oldest son.

On the days before the fiesta, the sidewalk from the townhall to the hospital would be marked with red paint spaced a few meters apart. These spaces would be rented by Batanguenos, a misnomer for merchants from the lowlands who are in town to showcase their wares for the Sagada folk to buy. (Nope, not all of them come from the province of Batangas - that's just how we, i-Sagada call them.) Anticipation would be building high the afternoon before the first day of the fiesta. Majority of these Batanguenos would have set-up their booths, and people would already be looking for good bargains.

The first fiesta I remembered was during my second grade. The first day of the fiesta was a parade from Dao-angan to the church. I marched with my classmates proudly to town. After the church service, I was given my very first allowance by my grandparents. My allowance that day didn't amount to P1. And, I wasn't even allowed to hold it. My older sister, then a 4th grader handled it for me. We were told to keep out from children who would snatch whatever we bought. I remember getting my first taste of cotton candy from that allowance.

My entrepeneuring sister used her allowance and I believe some of mine too, to buy a pabunot. Imagine a calendar sized paper that had around 100 tiny squares - each of these squares were covered. The idea is to let other children pay a small amount like 5 centavos or so, to get the chance to uncover a square, and see if that square has a prize attached to it. The prizes are also small amounts of money, like 25 centavos, or 50 centavos - some pabunot also had squares amounting to a peso or even 2 pesos. To us children, if you spend 5 centavos and get lucky enough to win 50 centavos, that would be like winning the jackpot. (Somehow, those were my naive days.)

I vividly remember that when my sister bought this pabunot, and after she was paid a few centavos to open just a few squares, a boy also with a pabunot approached her. He paid to open one square. I saw him count rows and columns before picking a particular square. The prize attached to that square was the whole pabunot itself. Waaah! There we were, our allowance was gone, and the boy left us and went about peddling his pabunot and ours too.

Not all my fiesta experiences were as bad as that one though. I remember cheering for Sagada Central School (or Bomabanga) and St. Mary's School teams and seeing them win. Years later, I would be tasked to lead the drum and bugle corp from our school when I was in 5th and 6th grade. My cousin has hinted to me that I should be the band leader since a lot of band leaders came from our neighborhood. Imagine that pressure on my young shoulders - what if I wasn't picked to lead the band? During a fifth grade drum practice, I think our teacher saw how clumsy I was at the drums and made a very smart move. He gave me the baton and whistle and told me to lead the band. I don't believe I deserved that one but heck, who was I to argue? I took to the baton and the whistle as if they were the brothers I never had. That made me really proud.

The parade normally kicked off the fiesta. My sisters and I would put on our freshly ironed school uniforms and make the 15minute hike to where the parade would start. During our time, the parade started from Dao-angan, went up to the municipal hall, followed the road to the main gate near the hospital, and ended at church. Compared to the bigger parades I've witnessed as an older person, the ones we had were simpler. But that didn't mean it was less fun. There were normally 2 marching bands. (1 from the our school, and the other from Saint Mary's School.) Majority of elementary and high school students from the different barangays would be present in the parade. Teachers and government officials would join as well.

The parade has evolved through the years. I left Sagada to attend high school in Manila. Pictures of the parade where my younger sisters participated in are very different from the parades during my time. My younger sisters were actually band majorettes, something not present when I was part of the parade. Nowadays, they're trying to spice up the Sagada Fiesta parade by showcasing the culture of the Igorots. Streetdancing and gong-playing as shown in the above photograph looks to be a common feature. And that's a good thing. The only bad thing about it is - I haven't attended a Sagada Fiesta in almost 20-gasp-years!

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