Since early June, tensions were brewing between the City Government (headed by the Romualdezes) and the Provincial government (headed by the Petillas). The word on the streets were: the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival had been canceled. Let me give a brief history- when the Marcoses were still in power, Imelda started a festival for Tacloban named Sangyaw. After they were removed from Malacanang, the Pintados Foundation took over and held the Pintados festival the day before the city fiesta. Since we moved to Tacloban in 1988, I can remember the Pintados festival being one of the highlights of the celebration- I myself took part in the parade during our high school days in Leyte High.
Just recently, Mayor Alfred Romualdez tried to revive the Sangyaw- but understandably Pintados had become much, much bigger in scale and relevance, and Leyte had been known nationwide for the latter. This year, the date for the Pintados parade had been moved several times- rumors even spread that the city government refused to give permit for the parade (all roads within the city are pedestrianized, and only official vehicles and ambulances are allowed), and that if the Petillas insist on holding the festival on the 29th, a court battle would ensue.
It was settled then that the Pintados would take place on the 27th, and the Sangyaw on the 29th, preceding the June 30 Sto.Nino of Tacloban Fiesta. The night before, my friends and I were still asking around if the festival was really pushing through, and decided we go downtown anyway next morning to find out.
By 8am of the 27th, I was stuck in horrible traffic because all roads were off limits from the old Sagkahan junction. Right then and there, I knew the Pintados festival was going to push through. I walked the length of Real St. and as the drumbeats and trumpets sounded- the colorful parade began.
It was not until the parade was done that I was able to find my friends in the crowd, we were off to Leyte Sports Development Center ("grandstand", where the Palarong Pambansa was held this year) for the performance of the contingents.
The Pasaka Festival of Tanauan, Leyte was declared the champion- combining a flawless routine, vivid storytelling through dance, stunts, props, confetti, and believe it or not, a live Sto. Nino being hoisted above the near-hundred dancers using hydraulics during the finale. They won half a million pesos, and will be joining the Buyugan Festival of Abuyog- the defending champions of the Aliwan festival.
In my opinion, no matter how flawless the other dancers are, no one can beat the "cute factor" of the Buyogan kids. Imagine, seven year old kids dressed as bumble bees dancing on a beehive (and the stunts!). They were the last to perform, and from start to finish all you hear are either shrieks (from the stunts), oohhs and aahhs from the dance routines, and of course coos from the cute kids.
We'll see this Monday, if the Sangyaw can outdo the Pintados. Seriously though, if the Mayor and Governor are reading this- peace! Work together instead of competing, after all Taclobanons are Leytenos and these festivals are both in honor of Sto. Nino. Proud to be Leyteno, proud to be waray!