Tacloban City shines with a parade of lightsBy Gay B. Gaspay
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The three-year-old first Highly Urbanized City (HUC) in Eastern Visayas shines again, as Tacloban showcased its first Sangyaw Parade of Lights last June 29 in honor of Señor Sto. Nino de Tacloban.
Thousands of spectators lined the main thoroughfares, all eager to watch the 20 colorful floats brightly illuminated by 3D LED lights, and each depicting the sociocultural and religious heritage of the city. Col orful, flamboyant costumes were worn by various performers who danced and paraded, enlivening the fiesta.
Many consider the Sangyaw Parade of Lights the first ever event held in the country. It represents Tacloban as the light of the region.
The Galleon, the first float, carried the image of its patron saint Señor Sto. Niño de Tacloban, and recalls when the First Mass in the Philippines was held in Limasawa 500 years ago during the expedition of Ferdinand Magellan. The first baptism in the country marked the start of centuries of Catholic influence, making the Philippines the only predominantly Roman Catholic country in Asia.
The Chinese influences were depicted through the popular dragon dance, and the Chinese artifact and pagoda float, with performers in Chinese costumes dancing behind it.
The World War II tank “I Shall Return” Float represented the landing of Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
The San Juanico Bridge float depicted the landmark of development in the ’70s, while the “I Love Tacloban” motto and the Seal of Tacloban illustrated the conversion of Tacloban into a Highly Urbanized City, the first in Region 8.
Other floats carried the Sangyaw Ms Tacloban 2012 and her entourage. The Parade of Lights showcased the dreams and aspirations of Taclobanons, working toward a common goal in the “Working for a Brighter Future” float. Succeeding floats depicted the city’s natural and marine riches.
Merrymakers and performers in creative, colorful attire added spice to the event as onlookers, visitors, balikbayans, and tourists savored the much- awaited affair.
The event was planned by the first couple, Mayor Alfred S. Romualdez and City Tourism Council Committee chair and First Lady councilor Cristina G. Romualdez, with the participation of the Taclobanons themselves, barangay contingents, city officials and city department heads and employees. The Sangyaw Parade of Lights entertained thousands of bystanders who came to witness the event.
Mayor Alfred S. Romualdez, overwhelmed by the turnout, thanked everybody for being there. “Para ha iyo ini mga igkasi ko Taclobanon, I love Tacloban” (It’s for you to enjoy, fellow Taclobanons, I loveTacloban).
Councilor Romualdez also expressed her gratitude to the people. “This is just the beginning of more lights for our city, coming from our creator. Thank you so much Tacloban.”
The Sangyaw Parade of Lights has come a long way since the early ’80s, when the festival was conceived by the country’s then First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos. Sangyaw 2012 represented the region’s rich sociocultural and religious heritage through the colorful floats, joined by 18 contingents with 50 participants per group, each wearing uniquely and elaborately designed costumes.
Each group was positioned behind every lighted float, dancing to the Sangyaw Samba beat heard all over the cit .
The Sangyaw Festival was patterned after the Kasaysayan ng Lahi, from the lore of Malakas and Maganda to the colonial eras, up to the Philippine Independence.
Discontinued for years, it was revived when Mayor Alfred S. Romualdez, a nephew of Mrs. Marcos, became the city’s chief executive.
“Sangyaw” means to proclaim or announce, in this case referring to Tacloban’s forthcoming fiesta in honor of its patron, Sto. Niño de Tacloban. The fiesta celebrates the people’s devotion to the Sto. Niño de Tacloban. The Sangyaw Festival is observed every 29th of June.
Such festivals hope to attract domestic and international tourists to Tacloban City.