This is one unique (or better yet, peculiar) festival in the Philippines. Instead of having a colorful and festive mood as what we expect when we hear the "festival" or "fiesta" words, the festival feature creatures that are associated with Halloween. Such creatures are zombies, skeletons, coffins, ghouls and other so called "aswangs". But no fret, these creatures are in the streets to entertain and not to scare people away during the carefully choreographed street dance.
Tigkalalag Festival is celebrated every 2nd da
y of November in the Municipality of Isabela, Negros Occidental.
The festival is the townspeople way of giving respect to the souls of their departed loved-ones in a form of merrymaking. It is also a way of giving recognition to the supernatural spirits in the other world which most of our Filipino forefathers believed in.
Tigkalalag Festival does not depict pagan rituals but merry-making activity, unlike in the mid 40's that children were threatened by their forefathers to be at home during the Angelus because they might be made as "daga' or offering to the sugar mills to appease the spirits living in the "mariit" site. With the advent of modern technology and science, this festival is considered to be the past culture and is only reminisced to give recognition to the human and superhuman forces.
Get to visit Isabela's famous landmarks too!
• Glory Hill has a cross on top which was built by an American engineer of Binalbagan-Isabela Sugar Company (BISCOM). The hill is visited by penitents during the holy week.
• Ancestral House of the Miranda Family is a century-old house where bita is found. The tree bears flowers during the summer and scents permeate throughout the area.
• Century-old Bell is widely considered as the sweetest-sounding bell in all of Negros in the past.
• Lima Lima Falls is 13 kilometers away from the Poblacion. It is said to be the home of Papa Isio- the acknowledge "pope" of the Babaylanes who fought the Guardia Sibil during the Spanish period.
How to Get There
From Manila, you can fly to Bacolod (Php2500++, round trip, 45 minutes). From Bacolod-Silay Airport, you can take a shuttle (Php75-100 per head), or a cab and ask to be dropped off at the nearest bus station for Bacolod-Isabela.
Bus plying to Isabela is located at the South Terminal of Bacolod City. From Bacolod, it will take you around 2 hours using public utility vehicles.
photo by Enrico Dee (byahilo.com)