LEGAZPI CITY - The colorful Ibalong Festival was celebrated last October 25-31 in Legaspi City, Albay – Gateway City of Bicol Region. It is inspired by the 18th-century poem which tells about the land called "Ibalon" or the present-day Bicol region long before the Spanish colonizers came to our shores. The colorful celebration depicts the ancient life in Bicol as portrayed in the "Ibalong" epic that narrates of three mythical Aryan heroes in the name of Baltog, Bantong and Handyong who defeated several wild beasts and ferocious monsters and transformed the Bicol Peninsula into a bustling civilization.
One of the highlights of the exciting week-long Ibalong Festival is the Street Presentation where the Ibalong epic is relived in a joyous and colorful manner. Among the Legazpi city’s schools invited to join the said event is the Southern Luzon Technological College Foundation Inc. (SLTCFI) -- an educational institution in the city with technological services and facilities that offer degrees and short-term courses in computer technology, Arts & Sciences, manpower development and livelihood programs, and other technical courses.
SLTCFI immediately responded to the invitation in order to promote cultural awareness among its students. This is the first time that SLTCFI participated in the Street Presentation. Faculty members and students enthusiastically prepared for the said event headed by the institution’s marketing director, Mr. Jaime Nuñez, and marketing assistant, Mr. Johnsen Gonzales who is also the one in-charge of the choreography. There were 100 students from the school’s different departments that participated -- 60 female dancers, 30 males playing the instruments and 10 males as warriors.
This year’s Ibalong Street Presentation is composed of 15 contingents comprised mainly of youth participants coming from different schools in Legazpi City, and from other parts of the Bicol region.
The SLTCFI contingent is the first performer in this year’s Street Presentation and they impressed the spectators with their dazzling costumes and graceful performance of their dance routine and choreography. The costumes donned by the students were meticulously made using glittery materials as well as of locally found indigenous materials like abaca fabrics and jute sacks. The designs are green in motif complemented with red, black and green body paints. Their headdress is accentuated with painted chicken feathers and a snake design. The theme of their costume and their portrayal of the epic depicts the story of wily serpent who sometimes appear as a beautiful maiden. Their use of a live snake as part of their props brought additional excitement to the audience.
Truly, the city’s main streets were transformed into a huge theater for folk art with the majestic Mayon Volcano as a dramatic back drop while participants gracefully execute their choreographed dances in their colorful indigenous costumes and grotesque masks imitating the characters and events in the Ibalong epic. The contingents with the most colorful, most creative and most energetic presentation depicting the history of Ibalong took home hefty cash prizes.
City Mayor Noel E. Rosal, Ibalong Festival honorary chairman in his speech during the opening of the festival thanked all the stakeholders especially the private sectors and business community who sponsored the various activities of the Ibalong celebration.