Travel and Tourism

Why you should go to Bohol’s Sandugo Festival 2016

Alixandra Caole Vila - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines - More than picturesque landscapes and pristine beaches, Philippines is well-known for vivacious festivals that are held across its 7,107 islands. And if you have ever attended a single festival in any part of the country, you know why they always say “It’s More Fun in the Philippines.”

Festivals have been a way of life of Filipinos. Each has paved way to reconnect with their rich culture, heritage and religious roots. Nestled in the heart of Central Visayas, Bohol, is just one of the Philippine islands with a remarkable history. Did you know that the first international peace treaty was made there?

More than the fascinating chocolate hills, the hundreds of adorable endemic tarsiers and numerous century-old churches, Bohol is home to rich culture and heritage.

Living up to the glorious heritage there is in the island, the historical event known as "Blood Compact" between the local Datu Sikatuna and Spanish conqueror Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, is commemorated each year through “Sandugo Festival.”

On March 16, 1565, Sikatuna and Legazpi engaged in blood compact to seal their friendship as part of the tribal tradition. Each year in July, the island holds a month-long celebration not only to highlight the major historical event but also the unique culture, traditions and artistry of the Boholanos.

“Heritage, culture and arts are embedded in our vision. Yung vision statement ng Bohol is shared by all. It’s not a government vision, but a vision by all Boholanos. Lahat ng Boholano, whether you are in the chamber of commerce, business or church sector, we share the same visions. Each one of us has a role to play in realizing the vision of Bohol. Kasama sa vision eh make Bohol a prime ‘ecocultural tourism destination,’ may culture talaga sa gitna,” shares Gov. Edgardo Chatto in a press interview held on July 14.

According to the governor, the people of  Bohol and their hospitality play a great role in marketing Bohol as a prime ecocultural tourism destination.

“To become a strong province, we must know who we are. If we are inviting people to see Bohol, we should be able to showcase who we are as a people. If people finds Bohol attractive that is because we have a rich culture. The tourism is just what we get for simply being the Boholanos that we are,” explains the governor.

We have listed some of the reasons you should participate in the Sandugo Festival:

1. Experience the all new Sandugo Festival.

Church visits are frequent in Bohol during festivals. The tradition is done to pay tribute to the patron saints.

For this year, the entire provincial and city government, together with the private sector and other partner organization have re-engineered the Sandugo Festival to enhance its tourism value and at the same time the cultural heritage. Instead of merely celebrating Sandugo through reenactment of the blood compact, the month-long celebration will comprise of activities that aim to reinforce cultural values of hospitality, friendship and patriotism.

2. Observe Boholanos’ traditional dance, Kuradang.

Lolo Miguel Igam and Lola Imelia dance the traditional Kuradang.

Many festivals in the country have their own street dance competition but it is only in Bohol where you can witness the “Kuradang Dance Competition.” Unlike any street dance which uses flashy costumes and humongous props, Kuradang, a courtship dance focuses on hand and feet movements. The use of “Kuradang Dance Competition” instead of the generic “Street Dancing Competition” aims to be more rooted on Boholano aesthetic in dance, music, design and put a premium on local culture, innate artistry and most importantly, originality.

3. Celebrate ancient artistry through “Sandugo Lalik Festival and Competition.”

Many of the male Boholanos are inclined to wood carving.

As mentioned by the governor, Boholanos are great artists and are very good in wood carving. To highlight the talents of the locals and to preserve the carving tradition of the province, the “Sandugo Lalik Festival and Competition” will be held for the first time.

4. Witness biggest gathering of Boholanos from all over the Philippines.

Boholanos come home during fiestas.

For the past years,  Boholanos  have been encouraging Filipinos and friends from the whole world to visit Bohol through the program called Visit Bohol - “Tigum Bolanon sa Tibook Kalibutan,” but this year they are targeting our own kababayan. “Tigum Bolanon sa Tibook Pilipinas” aims to draw out fellow Boholanos living outside the province to enjoy the fun, excitement and spirit of camaraderie of the Sandugo.

“Tigum is assembly and Tibook is home. Every three years, we have ‘Tigum Bolanon sa Tibook Kalibutan.’ Yung buong mundo yung umuuwi dito sa Bohol. Visit Bohol has been a practice here. The organizers are based in New York, New Jersey. Ang gusto namin ngayon, uwi ang mga Boholano na nasa ibang probinsya. ‘Tigum Bolanon sa Tibook Pilipinas’ - first time siya this July 22,” the government explains.

5. Experience hospitality like no other.

Carabao meat is a frequent dish during festivals in Bohol.

If there’s one race that is super obsessed with fiestas, call them Boholanos. The enthusiastic people of Bohol are always anxious to show hospitality by entertaining the visitors and serving them good food. You see, Tagbilaran is called “City of Friendship" for nothing.

Fiestas in Bohol are occasions of merry-making and lots of free food. “Kapag fiesta talagang nangungutang pa yung iba para lang may maihanda sa mga bisita. Kaligayahan ng mga Boholano na pagsilbihan ang mga bisita pag fiesta, kaya mabubusog ka talaga,” the governor said.

Visitors can enjoy Sandugo Festival by hopping from house to house so you better get that appetite ready. Literally everybody is welcome in any house of your choosing. And you do not even need to be invited to come. In fact, it is considered a good moral to drop by even if you cannot eat.


Editor's note: The tour to Bohol was hosted by AirAsia to promote tourism in the area. At no stage does the host organization have a say on the stories generated from the coverage, interviews conducted, publication date and story treatment. Content is produced solely by Philstar.com following editorial guidelines.

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