A Walk with Kory and Naldy: Hinugyaw Festival Story Part 1

"This town used to be vast grassland - almost empty and barren. But that was more than half a century ago”, the twenty-something local lad Naldy narrated to his guest Kory, a lady traveler from Metro Manila.  

“It’s amazing how time has turned Koronadal from a barren land into the progressive city that it is today. It’s an opportunity, even for my part, to be here with these thousands of people reveling in the grace blessed by this land.” He led her further into the city in a walking tour.

“You seem so proud of your place”, said Kory, a petite woman with a wavy hair and sun-kissed skin. Naldy just smiled. 

 They walk around the tall structure in the middle of the city’s main highway where yellow tricycles whiz in straight lines past them. That tall structure is popularly called here as the roundball, he said. Kory’s eyebrows rose. “What?” she asked, puzzled. "Why, is there such thing as a “square ball” that you have to name it that?” They kept walking, both laughing.

“The city center was flooded with festive colors of red, gold and violet, the colors of celebration of the three cultures that peacefully coexist in the former plains (datal) of cogon grass (kolon). Christmas could be over but the colors remain in this city until the 10th of January. It’s a month long merriment from pre-Christmas to the culmination of the Fiesta,” he continued.

What’s with the colors? “The symbol of coexistence amidst differences”, Naldy said. “Red, the strongest of the colors, represents the B’laan people as the first inhabitants of this plain land surrounded by the Roxas and Quezon mountain ranges. Gold represents the Maguindanaoan tribe and Violet is for the first settlers mostly from the Visayas,” he continued as if reading from a multi-paged script.

“This diversity is celebrated as Hinugyaw Festival. You’re lucky to be staying here for the week”, he said. Kory’s eyes wandered around the colorful street festival ornamentations as they walk in leisurely pace. She put down the heavy camera hanging on her neck. “Hugagayaw, what?”

“Hinugyaw! From the Hiligaynon term hugyaw, meaning "celebration or merrymaking". You can see some decorations are made with cogon grass, it's the symbol of the festival. The people here, children of the children of the settlers and the indigenous peoples pay respect to the past and celebrate the progress of today.”

“Okay, I’m impressed. How did you learn all of these? You seem to be really attached to this city!” He remained silent. They walked for a few more minutes and reached one corner in Abad Santos Street where an antique house stands and looks un-weathered.

In an old rattan rocking chair an old man sips a cup of hot cocoa. “I want you to meet Lolo Paulino. He’s been telling me stories about this humble city since I was young”, Naldy said. Kory held the hand of the old man and raised it to her forehead to mano, a Filipino custom as gesture of respect. The next two hours were filled with stories of exodus from the Visayas and Luzon, of division of lands, of 17 martyrs, of being reborn in a new land and of witnessing the milestones of a small town. Lolo Paulino was still so engrossed with his telltales and sipping the already-cold cocoa.

After meeting Lolo Paulino they both felt the fresh air entering the balcony of the old house and touching their faces. The sky was getting dark and the drum beats can already be heard from where they were standing.


“After this let me walk you further into the city where people like Lolo Paulino learned how to live and love, Naldy said to Kory. []

This is the first part of the story series of Naldy’s journey with Kory through Koronadal City and the Hinugyaw Festival. Follow their story by Liking this blog's FACEBOOK PAGE. Click HERE.

This is my official entry to the Hinugyaw Festival 2014 Blog Writing Contest.” 


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