Fun activities, soul-stirring music and art installations that turned into giant campfires enlivened the famous Paoay Sand Dunes as the province of Ilocos Norte’s ‘Himala’ (Miracle) festival came back last May 10 in time for the summer vacation.
Dubbed as ‘Himala sa Buhangin’, this biggest offbeat outdoor arts and music festival in the north debutted last May 10 to an estimated 5,000 party-ready crowd up north with sand sports activities like 4×4 racing competitions, sand castle making, sand boarding, Zorb riding, sand castle and other entertainment like belly and fire dancing and comebacking unique art installations and Arabian-inspired parties.
The whole-day event also brought back together the hottest rock bands and artists in the country, headlined by the “Prince of Rock” Bamboo, the former front man of the band Rivermaya and one of the resident judges of the hit reality singing competition, The Voice of the Philippines.
Bamboo is best known for the phenomenal rock songs “Noypi”, “Much Has Been Said” and “Tatsulok”.
Up-and-coming local bands also shared the festival bill.
The venue for the first ‘Himala’ festival, Paoay Sand Dunes, is a 88-kilometer sand formation at the borders of Paoay town. With various local films and Hollywood films shot in the said site, it was chosen by the provincial government as the venue for the event to further strengthen its potential as an all-around venue for the arts.
Thousands of attendees to the fest’s debut were entertained through various sand and sports activities in the morning. Murals by Gerilya Artists Collective were also displayed featuring the famous Ilocano epic hero Lam-Ang and superstar Nora Aunor’s trademark pose in the renowned Filipino classic movie where she uttered “Walang Himala!” (There are no miracles!) which in turn became the inspiration for the festival’s name.
In the evening, visitors banquetted with various Asian dishes in Moroccan-inspired tents as they were entertained with a free concert by famous Filipino bands like Up Dharma Down and Wolfgang as well as other Manila-based acts Powerpuff Corn, Hidden Nikki, and Sleepwalk Circus.
Massive art installations headlined by “Chrysalis”, a massive art installation by the international Filipino visual artist, Leeroy New, was the highlight of the event.
Chrysalis, an alternative term for a hard-shelled pupa of a butterfly, was the name aptly given to the indigenous sculpture to symbolize Ilocos Norte’s budding tourism industry. In history however, it is an artistic representation of the toppled galleon that brought the 400-year-old image of the province’s patroness, La Virgen Milagrosa, to the shores of the town of Badoc.
All art installations in the venue, except for the Chrysalis were burned during the event to symbolize the provincial government’s call to gather everybody to celebrate on Ilocos Norte’s successes.
As divulged by Elaine Lubguban, the Media Incentives Desk officer and one of the organizers of the event, Leeroy New returned for another installation while Gerry Leonardo, a Philippine High School for the Arts art teacher and famous Filipino visual artist, crafted a fiber glass sculpture of Elsa, the iconic protagonist from the most celebrated classic Filipino film, “Himala” which was publicly unveiled during the event.
The 88-kilometer sand formation at the borders of Paoay town was chosen as the venue for the event as an opportunity to further strengthen its potential in tourism.
“Before, the folks in Paoay would cry over these sand dunes because they couldn’t farm there, but movie directors here and abroad love it. Tourists are fascinated by it and 4X4 rides and sand boarding started to provide income to the people. Indeed, this is the true ‘himala’,” Governor Imee Marcos said in an interview.
The Himala sa Buhangin Festival was one of the major events under La Milagrosa Provincial Fiesta which was launched last 2012 to honor the patroness of the province, La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc.—(Grazielle Mae A. Sales, PGIN-CMO)