TIGKALALAG FESTIVAL 2013: A Unique Way of Celebrating Life and Death!

Mapee Singson
Mapee Singson | Oct 27, 2013

Aswang, manananggal, maligno, multo, kapre, dewende, tikbalang, zombies, skeletons and white lady are few of the creatures that Filipinos associate with when November comes or the Halloween Season. These are the creatures that give life to a festival celebrated in the town of Isabela, Negros Occidental. In some parts of the world Halloween has always been celebrated from the 31st of October to the 2nd of November. But when did this celebration started?  photo 32729131-fa85-4c9e-8773-0c5b740a683e_zpse475d3c7.jpg Many scholars would articulate that Halloween celebration is a Christianized feast influenced by Celtic harvest festival with pagan Gaelic Samhain roots. Today most countries starting the celebration at the eve of October 31 to the evening of November 2 called the All Hallows’ Day. This three-day celebration is collectively known as Hallowmas, the time of honoring the saints and the memories of recently departed souls who have not yet ascended to heaven. In 609 C.E. was the year All Saints Day was introduced, but it was originally celebrated on May 13. Pope Gregory IV decreed that it would be changed into November 1 following the date of Samhain celebration. In the United States, typical Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, attending costume parties, decorating, carving pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films. In Spain it is better known as El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead or All Souls Day) Spanish people celebrate it a kick off on October 31st called the Dia de las Brujas (Day of the Witches), continues with Dia de Todos los Santos (All Saints Day) on November 1st, and culminates with Dia de los Muertos on November 2nd. In the Philippines, especially in some provinces and local towns, Pangangaluluwa is still very active and alive. Group of old people may dress in dead people costumes or not portraying as souls roaming around during the night from house to house singing songs and asking alms as tribute and offering. This practice has been dominating the Halloween scene in far flung barrios and even in few barangays in Metro Manila. photo by Darlyn Navales photo a0325474-2d32-44ff-a3b7-ea4979e526a5_zps7da9086f.jpg Halloween is not all scary and mystical. For the town people of Isabela, Negros Occidental, it’s their way of celebrating the memories of the dead through a festival. TIGKALALAG FESTIVAL is on its 12th year of existence. Tigkalalag comes from the root word ‘kalag’ or soul. 12 years ago, as an initiative of the local government, the festival started with a simple dance competition and street dancing with the dancers dressed in all sorts of mystical creatures in Philippine myth. As the years have passed, the celebration has grown into a full five-day festival with kick off activities such as pop dance competition and trick or treating activities. At the highlight day of the festival, November 2, the street dancing would start around 6 in the evening and it will proceed to the showcase of group dancing at the public plaza. It is very unique because the street dancing and the showdown are held in the evening. There are also different activities held at the town center during the week of the festival.  photo c82d839b-eef1-4bbf-9ff4-e6ead9c40045_zps325a71f1.jpg For others, Halloween is the season where we visit and remember relatives who have departed with solemnity but for the people of Isabela, it is another way of celebrating life and death in general. It is their way of honoring the souls of their ancestors. TIGKALALAG Festival, a very unique celebration will continue to serve its purpose in the years to come. TIGKALALAG Festival is one proof that we Filipinos always find ways to celebrate the bounty of life in any season and in any form.  photo 9be8a281-d942-4b8d-bad6-1f0ae27e8371_zps253f6f77.jpg TIGKALALAG FESTIVAL 2013, 30 October – 3 November 2013. VAMOS ISABELA!

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