Get All Patriotic at Iloilo's Kahilwayan Festival
Berniemack Arelláno | Nov 14, 2014
Conventional history textbooks will mention that when Aguinaldo declared Independence, all of the islands in the Philippine archipelago were also liberated from the Spanish colonizers. They're dead wrong.
After that mock battle between the Americans and the Spaniards in August 1898, the latter transferred their power to Iloilo to make last reforms. They were too late, though.
Given that the Ilonggos were loyal to the Spanish crown (as manifested by the city of Iloilo’s seal “La Muy Leal y Noble Ciudad”), the Spaniards stayed there, thinking that they will be secure in the company of one of the most loyal peoples to them.
They were dead wrong, too.
Sometime in late October, an event in Jelucuon (now part of New Lucena town) led to the spark of the Ilonggo Revolt against the colonizers. Later in November, they moved to the town of Santa Barbara in which Nazaria Lagos “smuggled” the Philippine flag beneath the haystack.
Santa Barbara became the first place outside Luzon to have hoisted the Philippine flag, and with that, the downfall of European power in the islands was inevitable.
The story of freedom and patriotism is being celebrated more than a century after the event with the annual Kahilwayan Festival which is held every November 17.
"Kahilwayan" is the Hiligaynon word for “freedom.” The town brings together its best dramatic interpretative dance tribes, manifesting through graceful moves the drama behind the townsfolk's ancestor’s fight for freedom.
Last 2008, the Santa Barbaranhons celebrated with a 3 band-contingent competition reliving the “Marcha Independencia,” which was played during the freedom march from Santa Barbara to Iloilo City a century ago.
As the largest flag in the VisMin area was hoisted, so were the spirits of every Ilonggo who looked back at what their ancestors did to attain the freedom that we enjoy now.
(These travel essay and photos were previously published on www.habagatcentral.com. For more features about Philippine travel destinations, food, delicacies, festivals and products, as well as hotels, resorts and restaurants, LIKE HabagatCentral.com.)