Colorful scarves painted in blooming flowers sailed through the scorching air of Capiz Province as contingents of the annual Sinadya sa Halaran showed their flair to the throngs of Capiznons eagerly watching the festivities. Gals dressed in traditional Filipiniana and guys garbed in barongs marched and danced at the avenues of Roxas City, totally unmindful of the sweltering heat of the midmorning sun.
I was taking photographs inside the Roxas City Cathedral when drum beats boomed and horns suddenly blared from bands accompanying the Sinadya sa Halaran Festival. I immediately went out, swam through the gathering crowd and looked for a good vantage for the festival.
I was supposed to eat breakfast first and join my companions, but all plans were thrown out the window as the contingents of the Capiz Festival started to mobilize.
I scrambled for a place to shoot as kids dressed as fiery ants scuttled their way through, dancing and swinging to the festive music.
Sinadya sa Halaran is a merging of two Capiznon festivals. It used to be that Roxas City, the capital of Capiz, has its own festival besides that of its mother province.
But since it was too expensive to hold two major festivals in a single year, they decided to merge the two festivals; Roxas City’s Sinadaya (Celebration) and Capiz’s Halaran (Offering) into one huge festivity.
The Sinadya sa Halaran was born.
The Capiznon festival is usually held from the 3rd to the 8th of December. It celebrates among other things the Prosesyon sa Suba (Fluvial Procession) where the image of the Immaculate Conception is sailed through the evening waters of Panay River before being led to the city cathedral.
Most municipalities of Capiz join the Sinadya sa Halaran, each sending colorful contingents to compete at the last day of the festival. Currently, the province consists of sixteen municipalities and one city.
No wonder the festival seemed unending!
I love how unique the Sinadya sa Halaran Festival is compared to a few other festivals I’ve attended. I can’t help but feel that sometimes, a festival is celebrated just so a town can have one to call its own.
It maybe to lure tourists into their place or put their town in the map; not a bad thing really, but what I don’t like is that sometimes these festivals doesn’t even have a local flavor. It’s just a cacophony of fancy costumes and glittering ornaments.
That’s what so refreshing about Capiz’s Sinadya sa Halaran. Here one can see the spirit and traditions of Filipinos through the costumes and dances performed by each contingent. Wearing traditional baro’t saya, some were planting rice, playing Filipino games like palasebo and doing traditional wedding dances.
And there is of course the seafood-themed groups, we are after all at the Seafood Capital of the Philippines.
There were some groups that tried to imitate other festivals; Bacolod’s Masskara, Iloilo’s Dinagyang, but they were few and far between. Most of the contingents I saw were performing rites that looked very local and native. Its simplicity is really quite charming.
I read that this year’s Sinadya sa Halaran has been toned down to give way to the Yolanda typhoon victims. The festival was still honored but the expenses for a grand one was diverted and instead donated to the people devastated by the calamity. Capiz itself is one the places hit by the typhoon.
But I worry not. I’m sure the strong unbreakable spirit of Capiznons can get through these trying times. With a bit of a helping hand, these people will shake the dust off, rise, and show their flair of colors at the next Sinadya sa Halaran once again.
Sinadya sa Halaran Festival
Location: Roxas City, Capiz
Schedule: Celebrated every first week of December
Provincial Tourism Office of Capiz and Roxas City:
(036) 6210-042 local 221 | (036) 6210-500
GPS Coordinates: +11° 34' 59.43", +122° 45' 11.03"
View Location on Google Maps