The drums beat, the sun flared, the crowd gathered and the dancers marched forward with their fancy, shiny festival dresses glinting in the hot afternoon light of Dipolog City. Zamboanga del Norte’s Hudyaka Festival commenced!
Hudyaka which means revelry in Bisaya is an annual festival that is attended by contingents from the whole Zamboanga del Norte province. The festival celebrates the founding of the province and the cities and municipalities of Zamboanga del Norte usually send in contingents to compete.
With prizes in six figures, there’s no reason for them not to. The festival is now on its 8th year and is hosted in rotation by the towns of Zamboanga del Norte. This year, it’s Dipolog City’s turn to host the Hudyaka Zanorte and we were lucky to be invited to witness the festivities.
I have a confession to make; this is only the second “real” festival that I have attended. Sure I’ve been to numerous Aliwan Fiestas, but for me, they really don’t count as real festivals since it’s hosted in Manila and isn’t really celebrating anything in particular. Being in Dipolog City for the 2012 Hudyaka Festival was quite exciting for me.
The festival queens bearing the statuette of the Sto. Nino strutted forward, eyes all gleaming, lips all smiling. Their elaborate headdresses swayed in unison with their hips and competed in beauty with their beaming faces. They swayed, the crowd swayed and my camera swayed.
The people gathered along the sidewalks stood mesmerized, unfazed by the blinding heat of the sun. The dancers followed carrying their props of choices; colorful rattan baskets, gigantic sardines, native bilao’s, spears, fans and other fancy colorful contraptions.
Their costumes glimmered in the light; blinding golds, deep purples, shiny silvers, reds, oranges, greens and all the colors of the rainbows. They ran and they hopped as their queens pranced and danced out front, arms outstretched, the Sto. Nino in hand.
They moved not unlike Dipolog City’s famed sardines. Like a giant graceful school of fishes, they swarm and circled in unison to the blaring horns, the tinkle of the xylophones and the heavy beat of the drums. They cheered, the crowd cheered. And although I’m not a cheer-type kind of guy, I cheered inside as well.
The contingents of Hudyaka Festival went past like a whirlwind of colors. It was exhilarating, it was magical. My shirt was drenched and my blood pounded with the echoes of the fading drums. I just experienced my first Hudyaka Zanorte and I absolutely loved it. Revelry indeed.
Hudyaka Zanorte Festival
Festival Date: May 30 to June 9 every year
Hudyaka Zanorte 2012 Winners:
1st Prize: La Libertad
2nd Prize: Dapitan City
3rd Prize: Liloy
Festival Queen, Best Musicality and Best in Costume: Dapitan City