Monday, January 16, 2012

Getting Dirty. More fun in Kabankalan

The time of the year has finally arrived. Having only 3 hours of sleep from the previous night's videoke/despidida party for my two colleagues from work, I forced myself to get up early in the morning to prepare myself for a long day. A two-hour travel via bus down south of Bacolod City, it is one of the most anticipated events in Negros Occidental. This is a yearly celebration in Kabankalan City that we , together with friends, usually go to. The celebration in honor for the Santo Nino or the Baby Jesus for helping the people in driving away the Moro Pirates, is called SINULOG festival, but to differentiate from the more famous Cebu City festival of the same name, the festival offers an exciting twist to use soot (charcoal paste) to rub over everyone who is part of the festivities, not only the participants for the tribal competition.

It was my 4th year in a row to attend the festival. I woke up around 6:45AM and immediately went to Kabankalan via bus. I arrived around 10:30AM just outside the city and it was hell of a traffic so I opted to walk together with some other people who were impatient to wait, just like me. I was late for the dance parade, since I was only able to watch and take photos from tribes number 8-14. But the good thing was I saw my best friend Basho on the way, and had lunch at his friend's house. It was like a typical barrio fiesta, were almost everyone is invited in every house for a banquet, even those that the household have just meet during the festival. It was a dilemma on my part, since there were four invitations for me to attend lunch with, but I decided to join Basho instead.

The fun starts after lunch. While strolling around the public plaza, the same time the tribal dance competition is held, expect to be covered with soot as people you know (and whom you had not known of) will smother and wipe charcoal paste on any bare skin that you have, may it be your face, shoulders, hands or even legs for the girls. Don't fret, since this is part of the celebration. One word of advice though: DO NOT say no or get angry, for people will eventually be pushed to put some more charcoal paste on you. There are also raining beers, literally raining..from those you drink and those that were thrown away and spilled all over the place. And yes, we ourselves aren't exempted, we are all in greasy black.

Finally went home at around 7 in the evening. And the bus going back to Bacolod as expected was jammed pack. By the end of the day, there were no regrets. Tiring but it will always be one of the most exciting festivals to attend to here in Negros Occidental. Hoping for another great experience next year.

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