Kannawidan Ylocos Festival: A Showcase of Ilocano Culture

Ilocos Sur has a rich heritage and unique culture. However,  it is observed that many of these traditions, songs, dances and other Ilocano culture are no longer familiar with the younger generations. Children of today prefer the modern and novelty dances they see on television shows than the traditional ones.

There is a need to preserve our rich heritage and unique culture. With this in mind, the provincial government of Ilocos Sur has conceived a festival that highlights these culture and traditions and attract local and foreign tourists as well. Dubbed the Kannawidan Ylocos Festival, it is also a commemoration of the anniversary of Ilocos Sur as a province.

A royal decree dated February 2, 1818 separated Ylokos. The northern part became Ilocos Norte while the southern part became Ilocos Sur which then included the northern part of La Union and all of what is now the province of Abra. In 1854, the province of La Union was created out of the towns that had heretofore belonged to Ilocos Sur and Pangasinan. Soon thereafter, Abra likewise became independent.

On January 29, Kannawidan Ylocos opened with a celebrated mass held at the St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedral followed by a procession of the patron saints of the 40 parishes as well as images of Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary around the province’s capital city, a testament to the deep rooted religiosity of the Ilocanos.

In his homily, Rev. Fr. Roque Reyes, parish priest of Vigan City, said that this festivity is the time to thank the Almighty not only for the abundance He has showered for the province but also for the rich heritage of the province including the strong ties among the Ilocano families.

Residents and even the local and foreign tourists partook of a delicious dinner held at the Plaza Salcedo after the procession. The big crowd enjoyed the fireworks display after the meal.

The Bayanihan Dance Company regaled the Ilocanos with their world class performance showcasing the beauty of the Philippines through dances, music and sounds. The audience lapped up their graceful movements and excellent rendition of songs and dexterity in playing indigenous musical instruments.

The next day, January 30, Vice Gov. Deogracias Victor Savellano and the officials of the Department of  Education of Ilocos Sur formally started the festivities with a traditional opening ritual  performed by the students of the Ilocos Sur Special High School for Culture and the Arts. Afterwards, different contests which included traditional tribal rituals, choir and glee club competition, marching band contest, traditional music ensemble, dance drama, traditional and folk dances, contemporary dance competition and street dancing showdown were held for elementary and high school students were held .  According to the officials, this is their way of encouraging young Ilocanos to learn the indigenous songs and dances so as to preserve them for the young generations.

Partuat ken Patanor Trade and Agri Fair also opened on this day. Officials from the Department of Trade and Industry headed by Thelma Dumpit Murillo graced the occasion. All the municipalities in the province including the exhibitors from other provinces displayed their products in the trade and agri fair.

The annual Pinaka contest where farmers displayed their extraordinary farm and fishery products and livestock also drew the attention of numerous visitors.

Visitors and guests have a glimpse of the historic past of Ilocos Sur during a period party held at Vigan Plaza Hotel. Participants attended the party clad in their old Spanish dresses. Melancholic old songs reverberated in the air as the visitors recollected the memories of the old Ilocos.

On February 2, the illustrious sons and daughters of Ilocos Sur were recognized through the Fr. Jose Burgos Achievement Awards, the highest award given to Ilocos Surians who did extremely well in their chosen profession. Among this year’s awardees were Dr. Lauro Tacbas in the field of education, Dr. Alfredo Rabena for science and technology, former Congressmen Mariano Tajon and Salacnib Baterina for government service, Dr. Agustin Molina Jr., for science and academe, former San Emilio Mayor Leon Lais for community leadership and  Crisostomo Ilustre for literature. Rural Improvement Club of Balidbid, Salcedo received the Fr. Jose Burgos Special Award for being a National Gawad Saka Awardee last year.

(To be continued)