Bohol cultural hubs launched in towns showcase rich heritage

By Cooper Resabal

New cultural hubs soft-launched by the Bol-anongKabilinAtongGibahandi (BOKAG) showcased Bohol heritage in colourful, lively and educational trails that drew raves from both local and foreign visitors.

Antequera which had its soft launching on August 13,  presented what it called “nature and babaylanic tourism” in its “Tan-aw saKanhi-ay, LantawsaKinaiyahan” (Heritage of Tamblot) cultural hub.

First, the hub showed the various weaves used in basketry the town is famous for in dance and actual demo. It then led visitors to the Inambacan Cave and made them “feel” the cool environment through its greenery and the lively singing of the Antequera Cultural Collective.

Some visitors experienced natural healing and wellness practices, like the traditional massage bequeathed by the local hero Tamblot who was a medicine man (babaylan) adept with healing herbs.

The cultural hub intends “to highlight Tamblot society’s healing, wellness features, and in the process, share the way of life of the historic leader, and encourage descendants and visitors to adopt an environmentally sustainable, healthy, and calming lifestyle,” Antequera tourism officer Lorna CabrisanteJadulco maintained.

A bamboo arc greeted visitors to Maribojoc’s heritage based cultural hub “SandurotsaKaumahan” (Fellowship in the Farm) in barangay Busao on August 13.  A carabao pulled a balsa (cart) where a village woman was riding with a bokag on the side.

A benediction by parish priest Father Mahinay with the image of San Isidro Labrador, patron of farmers, opened the soft launching of the hub, followed with a toast of fresh morning tuba in bamboo “glasses” among Maribojoc Mayor MerArocha, Vice Mayor Veloso, NCCA Deputy Director, PROCESS Bohol head Emmie Roslinda, GardyLabad, FlorettaSevilla Simpson, Cooper Resabal, FructuosaHibaya, and an American Field Service representative.

Guests were then led to the demonstration area where they were shown some Maribojoc ancestral ways of processing rice before it is cooked and served on the table, from the pounding of rice (with three pounders), winnowing, and “alig-ig” (separation of the unpounded rice). Others patiently tried to learn the making of the “puso” (woven container), while some watched how nipa is attached to a bamboo for use as roofing.

The creative products area displayed banana and cassava chips, products from the Escuela Taller, like carved wood and stone, and other angel crafts made of corn leaves.

Guests feasted on Maribojoclechon, sarsiadongmanok, escabeche, fried native chicken, soup with butong (young coconut) and shellfish with rice in puso for lunch.

Various cultural groups from Maribojoc then presented numbers: Lincod Cultural Collective showed the life of fisherfolks and nipa thatchers along the Abatan River; the Busao National High School showed a series of heritage dances, while a trio sang “Rosas Pandan.”

Bol-anon Village Cultural Trails of Toril presented songs about a mother’s encouragement and warning on marrying a Boholano, KagahaponugKaron (Yesterday and Today), and a traditional BusaoCuracha Mayor dance by Ursesio Amon and Teresa Napinas which featured a cloth where people showed their appreciation by throwing or placing money into it while the couple was dancing.

A basaw beat with a tingko (a bamboo instrument), traditionally played with drum and gong as residents dance to thank answered prayers, and to seek favors from San Isidro Labrador, concluded the day’s activities.

On August 12, 2017, Balilihan’s heritage based cultural hub “AsoysaPagbangon,”  traced the origin of the town from a pre-Hispanic spring near the park where diwatas mingled with mortals, like lavanderas and farmers who engaged in barter trade, then to a place where residents experienced pain and healing– the “BalaysaIring.”

In 1900, the town, as was the whole province of Bohol, which had declared its own Republica de Bohol, was occupied by soldiers of then new world power United States. Despite a “welcome” banquet and other gestures of accommodation, the church, school and houses of the town were burned by the invaders.

After initial resistance, the Bohol Republic and its residents succumbed to the military supremacy of US military forces, and later, to the pacification policies of Thomasites (soldier educators), elections, sanitation and health initiatives, and other modernizing moves, that eventually led the Balilihanons to rise from the ashes.

The Balilihan youth gave a spirited re-enactment of the destruction of the town in 1900, and the march to development that followed, which was expressed through a dance interpretation of the Balilihan hymn. Guests were then brought inside the heritage church to view the famous trompe on the ceiling

Visitors then partook of local delicacies at the Hardin saBalilihan where local products, like squash noodles, cassava chips and various crafts in nito vine were displayed.

Baclayon’s”KaraangBalayugTabosaBaluarte” hub opened with a harana at the Malon ancestral house followed with a snack of sikwate (chocolate drink) and broas, and other delicacies the town is famous for.

A short performance of the “Rico-Rico” tradition of Baclayon started with a singing of the traditional daygon (carol) at the foot of the staircase of the well preserved karaangbalay (ancestral house), followed by the “angry” retort of the “tagbalayngapalaran.”

In this tradition, members of the chapel organization from a barangay would knock on the houses of their neighbors to sing and act as chorus for Joseph and Mary who are looking for a place to stay. A “comparsa” or rondalla accompanies the singers. A member from their group would act as the home owner and drive away the chorus through his metered and sometimes improvised lines.

During the Christmas season in Baclayon, one would often see groups of men, women and even children, singing in front of houses. In other towns, the tradition is called igue-igue and in some parts of luzon, panunuluyan.

Visitors were then led to the Baluarte where they were presented the livelihood of residents in a traditional market that ended in a culinary and audio-visual feast, and vigorous dancing of kuradang.

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