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Borongan is beautiful! |


Borongan is beautiful!


When people’s faith and their desire to create something festive out of their belief are merged, expect revelry and reverence to take center stage.

The sleepy Borongan City in Eastern Samar was recently roused by frenetic drumbeating as it celebrated the Padul-ong festival. As early as 5 in the morning, townspeople awoke to witness a vibrant festival characterized by men and women dancing on the streets to the beat of the merry sound of a brass band and lyre players. In frenzied anticipation of the parade revelers in colorful costumes, the spectators  both local and a few foreign tourists  lined up the streets. Many adventurous local residents had a good vantage point of the revelry on the streets as they were perched on the roofs of their houses or seated comfortably on windowsills.

Borongan City Mayor Fe Abunda and Eastern Samar vice governor Christopher Sheen Gonzales dance the ‘Curacha.’

Padul-ong, which literally means to deliver or to bring, essays on the streets of Borongan the legend of how the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary was mysteriously brought to the town from Portugal. With every step of the participants, from the time they alight the bancas that transport them to the port, the street dancers  as well as the whole community that awaits them  make a joyful petition to “the mysterious lady” who, according to the oral tradition in the locale, is a “regular visitor” at the Hamorawan spring located at the heart of the city. The spring is said to possess miraculous healing powers.

The Padul-ong festival was the culmination of the almost one-week celebration in Borongan that included a “Curacha” night, where the whole town, from the elected officials to the ordinary citizens, danced merrily in the town plaza. As they danced the “Curacha,” each dancer tossed money in mid-air or onto the dance floor. The money was gathered after each dance to be donated to chosen barangays for their livelihood projects. 

The Nativity of Our Lady, patron saint of Borongan City.

For this year’s celebration, the city also held its first ever Borongan lechon festival. A number of lechons (roasted pigs) were paraded in the city. “We hold the lechon festival also to push Borongan as a culinary destination,” shared Borongan City Mayor Fe Abunda. That Borongan has the best lechon in the country is not a baseless come-on pitch but a statement of fact, according to the mayor, as uttered by President Noynoy Aquino and his youngest sister Kris when they did campaign sorties in the province during the 2010 presidential elections. Aside from the lipsmacking lechon, Borongan’s seafood ought to be sampled.

The whole of Borongan was in frenzy for about a week but the town’s excitement became feverish on the day of the Padul-ong festival. If the festival were a loyalty check for Borongan residents, Padul-ong would be an accurate barometer of Boronganons’ love for their hometown. As early as the first week of September, said Abunda, “Borongan citizens” all over the world made an intrepid effort to come home to make it to the feast day (Sept. 8) of the Nativity of Our Lady, the patron saint of Borongan.

Padul-ong revelers from distant barangays take the banca to Borongan pier.

For the Boronganons, the Padul-ong is a celebration of faith. Those who come to celebrate the festival concomitantly renew their faith in God as well as rekindle their belief in the innate goodness of every resident of Borongan.


(E-mail me at You may also follow me on Twitter @bum_tenorio. Have a blessed Sunday!)

The famous Borongan lechon, perhaps the best in the Philippines.

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