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our Bana-ag Festival

BLAZING THROUGH THE DARK OF THE NIGHT

 

Every last week of October, the Anilaonons celebrate Banaag festival, the Festival of Lights. Streets are filled with blazing light from torches and neon ornaments worn by dancers as they frolic along with the jolly banging of the drums.

            Banaag Festival is a celebration of life, spirit, and creativity with the showcasing of different tribal performances taming, spinning, and shaping fire. It is a celebration of the Anilaonons’ bravery as they fought for freedom and independence.

            Banaag Festival literally means “Festival of Lights”. It is held in commemoration of the town’s wondrous history, which is take us on a journey to fiery battles for freedom and independence, the struggle to live in a nourishing community that strives to maintain its values while aiming progress, and keeping the fire of hope alive as it looks forward to a future of success for its people.

            Formerly called Hinugyaw Festival, the town’s 75th anniversary celebration was the first to depict the evolution of the town’s history, culture, and traditions from the pre-colonial period up to the present times. In fact, Banaag Festival is the only festival in Iloilo that combined local and national history in one event.

            This festivity means more than just a time for merrymaking for the Anilaonons. In fact, it can be traced way back to Moro piracy which began in 1779 and continued into 1780’s. To defend from further damage brought by the Moros, the Anilaonons built a watchtower made of stone at what is presently called Baluarte. Sentinels were put on this tower to serve as protection by day and night.

            Up to the present times, Anilaonons still render the symbolic torch as an emblem of hope, of glowing aspirations and glimmers of dreams that makes their hearts aflame with unity, peace, harmony, and hard work that are all set to liberate Anilao from the stagnations of a fourth class municipality. Their allegiance to achieve their highest of goals is manifested in the battle cry, “Pangibabaw Anilao!”

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