Hirinugyaw-Suguidanonay: A Festival with an Authentic Ilonggo Spirit

Story and photos by: Bombette G. Marin

CALINOG, Iloilo will celebrate its Hirinugyaw – Suguidanonay Festival, an ever-popular fixture in the local festival circuit of the province from Jan 26 to Feb 4, 2018. It is an event that attracts visitors from all over the province who are looking for an authentic festival experience.

Themed “Hugyaw Calinog: Pagtu-o kay Senor Sto. Nino Pagahimpiton, Turismo Pasanyugon agud Banwa Mainuswagon,” the festival will highlight the vibrant color, lively music and the town’s strong cultural ties with its Panay Bukidnon or Sulodnon indigenous group of almost 13 barangays.

The town plays a very important role in the culture of the Ilonggos, and while most of the population have adopted the traditions that were brought to the area by the Spanish conquistadors, an indigenous culture remains alive in the upland barangays. One of the interesting aspects is the annual Hirinugyaw – Suguidanonay Festival celebrated annually with a combination of Catholic Christian and indigenous religious beliefs.

Inspired from what is known to be one of the longest epics in the world, Hinilawod (translated in English as “Tales from the Mouth of the Halawod River”) is a folk epic poem written by the early inhabitants from the Panay Bukidnon tribe. This 8,340-verse epic is transferred orally from one generation to the next through chanting, locally known as Suguidanon. And when performed in its original form would take about three days, making it a literary masterpiece.

The epic poem is also a very good source of information about the Sulodnons’ culture, religion, and rituals and is depicted annually in chapters assigned during the Suguidanon presentation of the annual festival.

This year, tribes will perform Balankon, a two-headed monster, the guardian of the ridge where his beloved, Lubay-Lubyok Hanginon si Mahuyokhuyokan lives and is narrated in the epic under the Adventures of Dumalapdap.

The second part of the tribal dance presentation is the Hirinugyaw where, just like the city’s Dinagyang celebration performance, it anchors on the religious aspect – the Holy Child Jesus is honored in thunderous drumbeats and colorful costumes. Dancers move out in fast-paced, rhythmic steps, with voluble shouts of joy. Hirinugyaw is from the Hiligaynon word hugyaw which means to cheer.

The festival tribal dance competition takes place in the weekend after the city’s Dinagyang event, February 4 (Sunday) at 8 a.m. is considered without a doubt, the largest, most enjoyable and one of the more famous and authentic of all held in in the province.

The grand displays performed by each tribe in traditional dress have proved to be very popular among visitors, while there is also plenty of chance to share in local traditional food. Guests who will visit the scenic town of Calinog during the Hirinugyaw-Suguidanonay Festival would be privileged, and to share the celebration makes for a very special reason to be there.

Calinog is a first-class municipality situated in the central portion of the province, bounded in the north by the municipality of Tapaz, Capiz; northeast by the municipality of Bingawan, Iloilo; northeast by the municipality of San Remigio, Antique; south by the town of Lambunao, Iloilo; southeast by the municipality of Dueńas, Iloilo and; southwest by the town of Valderama, Antique. The town is 59.3 kilometers away or an hour and 20-minute drive from Iloilo City. Politically subdivided into 59 barangays, it has a land area of 3,280 hectares.

To get to the town, one can take a non-air-conditioned bus at the terminal beside Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines plant in Ungka, Pavia. For more information, please contact Municipal Tourism Officer Chester Larroder at 09159781887.

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