Bagasumbul Festival
Bagasumbul Festival.

By Prof. Rolando O. Borrinaga
Published 2:04 PM, October 4, 2016
BiliranIsland.com

The millions of funds have been spent, the festive dates have passed, and the euphoria has died down. But a jarring outcome is that the local government of Naval has defaulted on its official mandate by scrapping the Bagasumbul Festival for 2016.

A basic problem in the organization of the 2016 Naval Town Fiesta events on the LGU side was that the implementation of the listed activities remained tentative virtually until the last minute. (No problem with the traditional novena and Pontifical Mass on the church’s side.) In the case of the Tsinelas Party, the debate over its venue spilled into the social media, and the final consensus match closely with the set-up for the past nine years. As for the Banda Hudyaka, its go-signal was not given until about one week before the competition.

Then came the surprise. The listed and supposedly non-negotiable Bagasumbul Festival street dancing competition and presentation was scrapped, although the competing schools had always looked forward to this event and the parents of the participants had already spent resources for their children’s costumes and props for this much-awaited spectacle.

We are not privy to the decision of the currently municipal leadership to scrap the Bagasumbul Festival. What we know is that this seems to be a serious mistake. The decision-makers deprived themselves of the only mandated and legal cover that will justify all the other ancillary activities (with funding from the municipal) that were thrown in – motocross, shooting event, Miss Bagasumbul, concert, and even the Banda Hudyaka and the Tsinelas Party.

We leave it to the judgment of the auditors from the Commission on Audit (COA) whether or not the expenses from the municipal coffers for the 2016 Pueblo Day and Town Fiesta activities are legitimate and acceptable without the actual conduct of the mandated annual Bagasumbul Festival.

A note posted on social media by the chairman of the 2016 Naval Fiesta Committee belittled the Bagasumbul Festival, apparently because of the attached phrase “Halad sa Birhen.” The premises and arguments provided were clearly based on lack of background information. What he has significantly ignored is the fact that the Bagasumbul Festival is already registered in the festival master-lists for our town with the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of Tourism and some other agencies, much like the Sinulog Festival of Cebu, the Dinagyang Festival of Iloilo, the Sangyaw Festival of Tacloban, and even the Borobiliran Festival of nearby Biliran town.

The DILG mandate since the late 1990s (the Centennial Decade) was for every town and city to formally established research-based dates and years of their founding (i.e., pueblo day) and to envision and introduce an annual festival that would memorialize the history, culture, and heritage of these places. In exchange for these baseline accomplishments, the LGU employees would be entitled to receive anniversary bonuses every five years.

The participating teams in the Bagasumbul Festival have been oriented about its theme and story line years ago, a plot that extends to and highlights the beginnings of Naval as a town, and they have improvised on this with a wide range of artistry and aesthetics since then. The theme and story line picked up from the collective memory of a smaller-scale Sinulog-type and moro-moro ritual performed in front of our patron saint, Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, during fiestas, a ritual that was aborted by an American Franciscan friar in 1959, allegedly because of its “bloody” language. Remnants of this ritual were retrieved and dramatized under the initiative of the late Msgr. Silas Florencio, former parish priest, for the parade during the first Naval Pueblo Day observance in the late 1990s.

Suffice to say that native Navalians do not tolerate the desecration of the name Bagasumbul (lit., like a symbol of a great victory or conquest). It is a name that they love and treasure, never mind if it confounds and confuses outsiders, or migrants for that matter. This single word represents and contextualizes the history, culture, and heritage of the town of Naval.

It is truly a disaster that the Bagasumbul Festival became the foremost victim during the 2016 Naval Town Fiesta. By design or by default, the municipal government bungled severely by scrapping its only officially mandated festival as counterpart of the church-related observances.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Please don’t blame the mayor. Investigate what really happened, fault ba sa chairman sa naval fiesta execom 2016? i heard may isa ka gay nga nag chair na wala pa ka liquidate.

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