4-decade-old New Year tradition in Malabon postponed
Effigies on display during the New Year's eve in 2020.
Philstar.com/Jan Milo Severo

4-decade-old New Year tradition in Malabon postponed

Jan Milo Severo (Philstar.com) - December 31, 2020 - 1:48pm

MANILA, Philippines — The four-decade-old tradition of displaying effigies filled with firecrackers that was part of the New Year celebration in a barangay in Malabon City has been halted.

In an exclusive interview with Philstar.com, Sanguniang Kabataan Chairman Paolo Nicolas of Barangay Tañong said the event was suspended this year due to the pandemic. The local government unit of Malabon City has also issued an ordinance prohibiting the sales, distribution and possession of firecrackers.

“Due to pandemic po at alinsunod na din po sa social gathering ng IATF [COVID-19 task force]. Actually may bagong ordinance na rin ang Malabon regarding po sa paputok so hindi na po pwede magsagawa ng mga ganong kauugalian,” Nicolas said.

“Alam naman po natin na once na may effigy ay tradisyon na rin na paputikin ito at mas minabuti na din po na maglaaan na lang ng pondo para pangtulong po sa higit na kailangan ng mga tao,” he added.

Effigies are commonly used by various groups for protests. But in a small barangay in the northern part of Metro Manila, revelers visit the area to witness the colorful display.  

The effigies are filled with firecrackers to be burned at exactly 12 midnight as part of the New Year celebration. The colorful display ranged from cartoon characters to famous personalities. 

“Effigy-making became the unique distinction of Barangay Tañong among the other barangays of Malabon. Enabling the residents of barangay Tañong to flaunt their talents in crafts and creativity. Continuing this kind of tradition is a legacy to be called and be a gift for the next generation,” Nicolas said.

“It became a tradition of Barangay Tañong in behalf of celebrating the new year. Residents can exhibit their talents and a lot people appreciate the crafts itself. To Barangay Tañong, their new year celebration will not be completed without effigy,” he added.

The tradition started in 1979 when Ramon Igat, together with friends and relatives, decided to create a scarecrow effigy which they burned in New Year's eve. Residents of Malabon City continued the tradition, giving people a dose of joy during the revelry.

“Ang naunang gumawa niyan kaming magpipinsan, 1979. 'Yung iskinita kasi namin dati ang daming nag-iinuman so naisip naming gumawa noon, katuwaan lang. Ang gamit pa namin non mga gamit na luma, pantalon, polo, dayami parang scarecrow, 1979 to 80 tapos naging tradisyon na,” Ramon told Philstar.com

For Ramon, their effigy-making tradition during New Year is part of family bonding.

“Tumutulong sa amin non ang mga pamangkin, sama-sama ang buong pamilya. Gumagawa kami niyan kahit wala pang contest. King Kong ang pinakamalaki naming ginawa, 8th feet. Natakot nga yung mga kapitbahay dahil baka masunog yung kuryente,” he said.

Another pioneer in effigy-making in the barangay is Baltazar Aguilar who died years ago. Ireneo Aguilar, Baltazar’s nephew, told Philstar.com that his uncle started making effigy in the 1980s for fun.

“Ang natatandaan ko lang, adik yong una niyang ginawa. Sunod yung nauso na yung Voltes 5, dinosaur, kung ano-ano na. Naisip niya lang, kasi magaling siyang mag-drawing eh,” Ireneo said.

Choco Siochi, a two-time champion in the effigy-making contest, said he started creating effigies in 2009 with his friends. His effigies include cartoon characters, video game characters and dinosaurs.

“Malaking bagay kasi sa Tañong lang meron kung baga matatawag mo na sariling atin yun tradition tuwing new year,” he said.

The SK chairman hopes the tradition will be resumed in 2021 as New Year in his barangay is incomplete without the colorful display. 

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