LILOAN, Southern Leyte-This town is setting the stage to entertain visitors through a presentation of Lilo-Wawa Festival later this month.

The festival is the highlight of this year’s town fiesta (feast day) on July 31 where thousands of visitors are expected to be entertained.

Town tourism officer Manuel Uy-Oco, Jr. said the local tourism committee agreed to change the annual cultural festival’s name to Lilo-Wawa Festival from Lilo-lilo Festival.

“Lilo” means whirlpool and “wawa” is the passage that connects the town to Panaon Island in Southern Leyte.

Various contests will be held as part of the festival including musical, costume, street dancing, choreography and festival queen pageant.

“The festival committee has allocated PHP25,000 for the first prize, PHP20,000 for the second prize and PHP15,000 for the third prize and PHP5,000 consolation prizes for this year’s festival,” Oco said.

With the festival’s evolution, the Lilo-Wawa Festival has become one of the most awaited events during the town feast in Liloan for eight years now and has become the most awaited part of Liloan feast.

It made the whole feast celebration more exhilarating because it does not only uplift the spirit of locals, but also helped in the growth of tourism in the town, according to Oco.

The local government launched the festival in 2008. It was a simple merry-making competition, depicting Filipino culture and tradition, which highlights the town fiesta celebration in a colorful way.

The main highlight of the festival is the grand street parade, which lasts for two hours and the seven-minute showdown presentation of contingents at the Liloan Central School oval.

It eventually made noise, making its name to become popular each year, not just to town folks, but also to the people of Southern Leyte.

More than 300 Lilo-Wawa dancers have joined each year. They are dressed in bright colored costumes with their glamorous props, dancing gracefully to the rhythm of drums, trumpets and native gongs.

Filipinos celebrate feast for various reasons. These include showing gratitude for good harvest, commemorating significant events in local history such as the acceptance of Christianity and celebrating the feast days of saints.

In Southern Leyte, the Liloan feast is characterized by overflowing food, joyous music and colorful games and contests.

The Liloan town feast is celebrated to honor Saint Ignatius. The feast of Saint Ignatius de Loyola is celebrated on July 31. Saint Ignatius is the patron saint of the soldiers, the founder of the Jesuits (Society of Jesus).

The feast day usually starts with a mass and a procession joined by more than 600 locals. After the main activities, people eat, drink and enjoy the rest of the feast day.

Aside from the festival, some activities of the town feast include the search for Miss Liloan Tourism, which showcases the talents of some 15 local young women.

In 2014, more than 2,000 residents and local tourists from different towns of Southern Leyte witnessed the feast events.

“I visit Liloan during its feast celebration because of the search for Miss Liloan Tourism and Lilo-Wawa Festival,” said Nilmar Tampus, a 17, resident of San Juan, Southern Leyte. PNA
Photo courtesy of Ronald Tagra/Wikipedia

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