Negros Island is filled with beautiful festivals. One of them is the colorful Pintaflores Festival of San Carlos City (adjacent to my hometown of Canlaon City). This year's Pintaflores will take place on Monday, November 5, 2007.
“The Tale of Nabingkalan and her Dances of Flowers”
In the coastline of Negros Island, facing the island of Cebu, a lush and green valley is left uninhabited and untouched by human civilization until such time that a princess named Nabingka from a flourishing tribe somewhere in the neighboring island was destined to reach the plains as she fled away from the warring tribes of her place.
Aboard in a balsa (bamboo raft) with her warriors Princess Nabingka sailed across the deep trench of Tañon Strait and reached the plains now called San Carlos City. In her favor, the first inhabitants named the place Nabingkalan (coined from Nabingka, the name of the princess and lan, a suffix of Visayan origin which means “in honor”).
It was believed that after the princess landed her new abode, Nabingkalan, she was melancholic and afflicted with an incurable disease perhaps caused by her remorse due to loneliness being away from her family. Princess Nabingka, became weak and the tribesmen with their families wept for almost a year until such time that a babaylan implored the nature spirits and predicated that the Princess was saddened due to the absence of flowers in the place.
The babaylan then ordered that all tribesmen should plant flowering shrubs, vines and trees. But the humid weather of the plains, the flowers didn’t bloom and the babaylan this time summoned all tribesmen including women to have their bodies tattooed with flowers. In magnanimity all tribe members tattooed their bodies with flowers endemic to her hinterland to remind the Princess of her bountiful and glorious days with her family.
The news about the plight of the princess reached her family’s tribe and the chieftain who is his father decided to follow the journey of her daughter. The chieftain accompanied by a priest sailed to Nabingkalan bringing the image of San Carlos de Borromeo as a traditional Christian gesture of spirituality on journeys. As he reached the place of the princess he couldn’t believe what he saw as the princess was alive and now back in her vigorous health.
Due to the glee on what he saw, the chieftain then threw a bangaw (food party) to signify his happiness. He ordered a hudyaka-pahalipay (merrymaking – thanksgiving) in honor of San Carlos de Borromeo, the patron saint of his journey. The journey that led him to the discovery that indeed her beloved daughter has now a place and a people of her own.
Not everything is "swell" in paradise. Every rose has its thorn. And ours is the rampant destruction of Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park.
Illegal logging has been thriving despite constant warnings from the local government of Canlaon City and NGOs. Why? Because it is a profitable business and Philippine mahogany commands a good price in the black market. Also wood is needed for shelter for the highland farmers who cannot afford to buy gemelina or cocolumber to make their house.
I have done my best to be an advocate for the environment but it usually falls on deaf ears. Survival, whether it be legal or illegal has always been the main reason why people do this. And command votes during election has always interpreted the outcome.
I did not want to blog about this because it is a sensitive issue and also it will not give a good image to my hometown. This year a forest ranger was killed for reasons unknown. I have talked to officials of Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park and sad to say they do not have enough personnel to man every square meter of the 24,588 hectare park.
Another option for me is to talk to the Hari ng Negros organization in their next general meeting and to convince them to make this their battlecry - to save Mt. Kanlaon and paradise.
If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears.
According to Wikipedia:
The Masskara Festival is a week-long festival held each year in Bacolod City, the capital of Negros Occidental province in the Philippines every third week of October.
The festival first began in 1980 during a period of crisis. The province relied on sugar cane as its primary agriculture crop, and the price of sugar was at an all-time low. It was also a time of tragedy; in April of that year, the inter-island vessel Don Juan carrying many Negrenses, including those belonging to prominent families in Bacolod City, sank. There was a great loss of life.
In the midst of these tragic events, the city's artists, local government and civic groups decided to hold a festival of smiles, because the city at that time was also known as the City of Smiles.
They reasoned that a festival was also a good opportunity to pull the residents out of the pervasive gloomy atmosphere. The initial festival was therefore, a declaration by the people of the city that no matter how tough and bad the times were, Bacolod City is going to pull through, survive, and in the end, triumph.
Today, Masskara is no doubt the largest festival on Negros Island. It's also a great time for us "Haris" to get together once more and paint the town red (minus Reiven and Mark Xander).
Paul Brett Orozco (Hari ng Negros 2005)
taking a peak at some of our waterfalls
or be bewildered by our natural wonders
yes, Canlaon City will welcome you with a smile.
Soon after the pageant I went into deep contemplation and did some soul-searching. Intrigues started to spruce up regarding my victory because I was from Canlaon City and it was a hometown decision (even though none of the judges were from Canlaon). This only added to my insecurities.
I admit I do not have an Adonis body nor was I great on the catwalk like the other guys I competed with. Canlaon City at this time had no body-building gyms so I had to improvise. Having no barbels around was no excuse. I would secretly frequent places (junk shops, construction sites, river beds) where I could get a grasp of things and lift objects that would start building definition to my muscles. After a while I started noticing a difference.
My body started to get toned which helped me gain some self-esteem. Nevertheless, I felt the title needed a purpose.
Being the first winner, I had to work hard to set the standard for all future Haris to come. I did not want this event to be used as a venue for male exploitation, but rather an avenue for excellence and unity among Negrenses.
You see, Negros Island is divided. You have the Occidental side which speak Hiligaynon and the Oriental side which speak Cebuano. I guess I was lucky coming from Canlaon because I could speak both dialects. Canlaon City sits on the crossroads of the two very distinct cultures.
Realistically, I cannot solve society's problems like drug addiction, truancy, poverty, hunger etc. Which Negros has more than its fair share of.
The greatest power I have is to help influence my generation into reaching out for the greater good.
One thing I noticed with the Hari ng Negros - Ginoong Canlaon pageant is that there always has to be a major production number or two and a "more than the usual" set design. During my year, the organizers decided to depict Canlaon City with a nature background complete with waterfalls and exotic plants.
Mr. Garry Bascones became the first Director of the pageant. Every year the organizers change directors. It is to give opportunity to talents from all over Negros. It is also to keep the pageant from being too monotonous. According to the organizers, "to breath in new life into the production every year." So expect to see a different style if you decide to watch.
After the rehearsals I was really scared. Reality started to sink in. I couldn't believe in my wildest nightmares that I would be part of a male pageant. The worst part is that I had to walk in a bikini fronting my family, friends, classmates, neighbors and thousands of total strangers. I not only had butterflies in my stomach, but also bumblebees, dragonflies and killer wasps.
The Canlaon City Sports and Cultural Center was filled to the rim. I remember backstage praying for a miracle. Also this time, Mt. Kanlaon was very active and restless. Days before pageant night, the volcano alert level has gone up. You can see steam and smoke rising out of the its crater. "Please have a major eruption, so it will be an act of nature that will cancel the show, please, please please!!" I kept praying to no avail.
Well, here goes...
The first portion of the show was the Tribal wear where we introduced what place we were representing.
After the tribal introductions came the streetwear and what you have probably been waiting for - the swimwear.
Now come the formal wear competition. This is actually my favorite portion (no major steps or exposure) While modeling our barongs (Philppine men's formal attire), we were serenaded by Ms. Grace Mahinay (who happened to marry my elder brother a couple of years later). She sang a medley of OPM (Original Pilipino Music) from Regine Velasquez to Sharon Cuneta.
After Mystica brought the house done. The Top 5 finalists were announced. From left to right Grizaldy Gamboa of Bacolod City, Don Austria of Victorias City, yours truly of Canlaon City, Steve Serad of San Carlos City and Joeden Espinosa of La Carlota City.
The final question that was asked to all 5 finalists was. "What makes you cry?" Most of the guys answered when they see a family member get hurt. When it came for me to answer, I played with the audience a little (knowing there were lots of teeny bopper girls rooting for me) and answered, "When I miss someone so much, knowing I wouldn't find her no matter how hard I look (thunderous screams from girls), but seriously crying does not make me less of a man, it just shows that I am in touch with my emotions, thank you."
The 4th Runner up is La Carlota City, the 3rd Runner up is Victorias City, the 2nd Runner-up is San Carlos City, the 1st Runner-up is Bacolod City and yours truly became the 1st Hari ng Negros - Ginoong Canlaon.