TACLOBAN CITY- In its comeback bid, Buyogan Festival of Abuyog, Leyte, captured anew the championship, besting six other contingents in the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival of Festivals held at Leyte Sports Development Center on June 27.

Buyogan bagged cash award of PH750,000 as grand winner and the Best in Costume Award. Lingganay Festival of Alang-alang, Leyte, was first runner-up, which got PH500,000 and second placer Sanggutan Festival of Barugo town, took home PH200,000.

Lingganay was also awarded as best in festival music. This is the first time Barugo town showcased its festival.

Buyogan Festival of Abuyog, Leyte. Photo courtesy of Elmer Eclipse
Buyogan Festival of Abuyog, Leyte. Photo courtesy of Elmer Eclipse

Both Buyogan and Lingganay Festivals were champions in Cebu’s Sinulog free-category competition and in the best of Philippine’s festivals at the Aliwan Festival on different years.

Due to the devastation wrought by super-typhoon Yolanda on November 8, 2013, Abuyog failed to join the festival last year for financial consideration and the damaged on their costumes and props.

Celebrate with the bees

In a phone interview, Abuyog Mayor Octavio Traya said he is happy the town’s festival took home the bacon. He said this is the collaborative efforts of the local government unit and the private sector.

He also thanked the youths in their aggressiveness to give the best of themselves in the festival and help promote the culture, and tourism activities of the town.

Buyogan Festival dancers. Photo courtesy of Elmer Eclipse
Buyogan Festival dancers. Photo courtesy of Elmer Eclipse

The Buyogan Festival boasts of its new colorful costumes patterned to the different shapes and colors of a bee and mimicking its bee life to the beat of distinct Buyogan music.

Legend has it that Abuyog has a mystical creature popularly known as Opayda. She is a good fairy who helped cure victims of bee stings and guides fishermen safely back to shore through her magical voice.

Frenil Palang and his team did the artistic choreography. The bee dance focused on the movement of the bees which is injected with the legendary concept of Opayda, thanksgiving of the town’s bountiful harvests and the religious concepts of the holy image of Sto. Niño and the town’s patron St. Francis Xavier.

The festival also showcased the rich cultural and distinct heritage of the town of Abuyog.

The secret of the success of the Buyogan Festival is the full support of Mayor Traya and the personal attention the mayor gives especially during competition outside the towns, said Department of Tourism Regional Director Karen Tiopes in an online interview. The official just arrived from a tourism event in Tokyo, Japan.

The kids undergo screening when they join the official Buyogan contingent when they are set to perform outside Abuyog. The exceptional support inspires the kids and so they give their best performance, Tiopes added.

The kids also take pride of being members of the contingent exhibited discipline and determination to give their best performance.

Buyogan Festival’s Beginnings

The Buyogan Festival is the brain child of the very artistic then Abuyog Vice Mayor Jun Katindoy who collaborated with Mayor Ofelia Traya in 1995 to create a festival for its town as encouraged by then Leyte Governor Remedios L. Petilla.

The Buyogan Festival takes pride in being the first champion in the first ever Kasadyaan Festival on June 29, 1996 at the Capitol grounds in Tacloban City. The festival is a Hall of Famer in the Kasadyaaan Festival having won for 5 straight years.

They took a hiatus, and made a comeback in the joint Kasadyaan-Pintados Festival and was declared as Hall of Famer again.

In 2009, Buyogan Festival created history when they swept by winning in Cebu City’s Sinulog Festival- Free Interpretation Category, Best in Street Dancing and the Aliwan Festival, a competition of the best festivals in the country at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila organized by the Manila Broadcasting Company and brought home PHP1 million cash prize.

The feast of Abuyog, Leyte on August 28-29 is in honor of patron saint St. Francis Javier.

Kasadyaan Festival (a Cebuano word that means merriment) was organized by the Eastern Visayas Regional Tourism Council led by then Governor Petilla in 1996.

In the mid 2000’s, the Kasadyaan Festival and the Pintados Festival, the longest festival in the region, merged and became Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival of Festivals held every vesper of Tacloban City fiesta, until Mayor Alfred Romualdez became mayor that he moved the festival parade to June 27 every year in favor of the Sangyaw Festival the city government revived.

Pintados-Kasadyaan is one of the highlights of the city fiesta. The holy child Sto. Niño is the patron of the city and the province of Leyte.
By Vicky Arnaiz/PNA
Photos courtesy of Elmer Eclipse