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Why Ivatan Festival?

Why Ivatan Festival?

by Richard Hermogenes E. Cantero

Printed on the Souvenir Magazine, 2011 Batanes Day Celebration


WHY NOT MAINTAIN the previous PAYUHUAN FESTIVAL which was well accepted for years?


            …Since payuhuan is intangible and cannot be perceived by any of the five senses, it is difficult and takes much time to explain same to visitors what it is all about.  We cannot readily show the various payuhuan activities like kapayvahay, kapayatep, kapaymuha, kapangamung, kapay yaru, kayvayvanan, etc. because these are occasional and takes time to reach the venues.

            So let it be something tangible – something that may be easily seen, touched, or tasted.

            Agoo has Dinengdeng (vegetable dish) Festival; Daet – Pinya Festival; Davao del Norte – Caracoles (conch shell) Festival; Jordan, Guimaras – Mangga Festival; Alabel, Sarangani – Kasadyaan (corn husks) Festival; Baguio City – Panagbenga (flower) Festival; Cebu – Sto. Niño Festival; and Bacolod City – Maskara Festival. These, and many else are all tangible.

            Alright, so let it be something tangible.


            Why not Tatus Festival?

            …They have that already in Antique and in Calayan, Cagayan.

            Why not Akus Festival?

            …Though we have the strongest tasting organic garlic, they may not be so abundant in the other municipalities, only in Itbayat and in Ivana.

            Why not Arayu Festival?

                …That is only rightful to the locals of Diura, Mahatao where exacting kapayvanuvanua rituals are done.

            Why not Palek Festival?

The commercialized gin is more popular among the locals.  There are no more activities like kapangates. Besides, we do not want to give the impression that the Ivatans are madidiñaten!


          So what else is unique in Batanes that may become a good festival name?

            Why not those from the fields like Tamiduk Festival, Vunes Festival, Chayi, Vutalaw, Payin, or Bayakbak Festival?  Why not consider animals like Pagad Festival, or the birds like Kuyab Festival, Valichit, or Hapnit Festival? Or it may be the fish like Yuyuno Festival, Pawpaw, Manikal, or Uhah Festival!


            WHO LIKES THEM?

            Why not Dibang Festival?  The flying fish, although generally popular in the islands, is also international.  It was reported by multi-awarded TV magazine reporter Jessica Sojo that the flying fish, since they are migratory, go down from Batanes to Mindanao as the months go by and that makes them seasonal.  So by July when the dibang becomes scarce in the Batanes seas, the mainland have them already until they reach Mindanao in January so they have a Dibang Festival in Maitum, Sarangani during this month locally called Bangsi Festval when they have to roast at least 1,000 kgs. of flying fish.

Where else… there is also a Flying Fish Festival in Catalina Island coast of Southern California every June and another Flying Fish Festival in Lanyu, Taiwan.

            So why not the most popular of Batanes… AÑIN FESTIVAL?

            Who likes it either?

       Then maybe, we can have a beautiful Vuñitan Festival depicting the purity, humility, and religiosity of the Ivatans and the virginity of the province – far from the curse of urbanization. But these white wild flowers are only abundant during the Lent season.

            Then let it be… let it be Wakay Festival.  Oh, but the sweet potato is not distinct among the Ivatans – that is an international produce – even larger and sweeter in other parts of the country and that wherever palengke you go in the mainland, there are camotes sold while in the local markets here, more often there are no camotes available.  Besides, wakay spells poor performance or quality.  If they see an Ivatan in Manila, then they say or call him wakay! meaning promdi or somebody from the province.  When one gets zero or poor in the test, then they call him nangamote!


            So would you want to be called wakay?  Definitely not!

            But, on the other hand – if you review all of the above mentioned, they all spell, characterize, and refer to one word – IVATAN!  All those flora and fauna mentioned above distinctly identify the unique character, lifestyle, survival method, talent, and features of the Ivatans.

                While we do not contest with the Payuhuan Festival that perfectly showcases our unique practice of voluntarily working for others as one community of friends and which has carved us a name in the national scene, we find the Ivatan Festival as better avenue to know more of the beauty of Batanes and its people as it has always been…

                So let it be Ivatan Festival and we are surely very proud of it.

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