Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Higalaay Kagay-an Festival 2014: Religious Procession (Street and Fluvial)

The feast day of Saint Augustine on August 28, 2014 started with a mass at Saint Augustine Cathedral at about 4:00 am. It was followed by a street procession which passed through the city’s urban villages or barangays . Later in the morning at about 10:00 a.m. a fluvial parade of decorated boats and rafts from the different barangays went upstream from Macabalan to the Duaw Park at the back of the city hall buildings. The fluvial parade is a part of the religious procession of the fiesta. In addition to the boats that carried the icons of Saint Augustine and his mother Saint Monica, participating barangays had with them the icons of their respective patron saints. Also in the parade was the boat boarding Miss Beatrice Alvarez Pohl, the newly crowned Miss Cagayan de Oro and the other young ladies that participated in this year’s beauty pageant. The procession is a way of seeking divine providence and of promoting endeavors that protect and preserve the environment. 

Higala-ay Kagay-an Festival 2014 (the Fiesta)

Every year, August 28 is a holiday for the people of Cagayan de Oro. It is the feast day of Saint Augustine, the patron saint of the city. The date is an official public holiday in the city and public and private employees are given a day off from work to observe the occasion.

Local residents call this occasion simply as the fiesta. The celebration is inherited from the Spanish colonizers who introduced Christianity in the Philippines. The fiesta used to be a purely religious occasion. But through the years Filipinos infused or added some Innovations of its practices making the fiesta not only a religious but also a cultural occasion. Since non religious practices are introduced or added to the celebration which involves people of diverse faith, the fiesta is also a secular holiday. Most of all, the local government and the people of the city view the fiesta and its related activities as a way to promote tourism and economic growth to the city and its adjacent places.

The present administration of the city dubbed the fiesta as “Higala-ay Kagay-an Festival”. “Higala-ay” is a word that is fitting to the occasion. It is a local word which means friendship in English. The word also aptly describes the admirable traits of a typical “Kagay-anon” or a native resident of the city. The locals of the city are generally known for their hospitality and friendliness- the traits which they believe are responsible for making the city a prosperous and peaceful place as it is today. And indeed “the City of Golden Friendship” is the nickname of the Cagayan de Oro.

In connection with the fiesta, local residents as well as visitors are treated with beautiful and enjoyable events and show such as “kumbira”, garden show, “kahimunan”, cowboy festival, beauty pageant, street dancing, fireworks display, fluvial and street parade among others. Those events precede the most important one- the fiesta.

Like Christmas, August 28, the fiesta, is also the day when family members, relatives and friends gather to see one another and enjoy the day together. The fiesta starts with a mass at the Saint Augustine Cathedral, and it is followed with a procession in the streets and a fluvial parade. In that day local residents prepare or cook sumptuous foods which are then serve on the table for friends, relatives or even total strangers to partake. Drinks such as wine, beer and others are also served. Some “Kagay-anons” serve foods to their guests on the eve of the fiesta. Others do it at lunch on august 28 and still others prefer to entertain their guests during supper. Most often the show of live band in public places and fireworks displays in the evening accompanies the celebration. Aside from the eating of foods people also entertain themselves with singing and dancing. In their homes, in the streets and other places people greet others with the words “Viva SeƱor San Agustin!”

Higalas Parade of Floats and Icons (Civic-Military Parade) 2014

It is a usual sight in the main thoroughfares of Cagayan de Oro a day before the feast day of Saint Augustine on August 28, 2014. A street parade is held every year in August 27. The street parade with its new label as the Higalas Parade of Floats and Icons is an inseparable event that is conducted relative to the celebration of the fiesta. Over the years, the number of participants of this particular event along with the floats and other things has increased relative to the city’s growth in economy and population.                                             

This year's parade on August 27, 2014, started at the Rodelsa Circle or the rotunda at about 7:00 a.m. The participants consisted of contingents from the military, students, civic and business groups among others. Conveyances such as floats are also on the road. The most conspicuous of them are the icons of saints Augustine and his mother, Monica. Another highlight is the Miss Cagayan de Oro 2014 and other young beauties on their float. The parade ended at the Lim Ket Kai commercial complex at past 11 a.m.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Higalaay Kagay-an Festival 2014: P.E. Rhythmic Dance Competition

Another core event of the Higalaay Kagay-an Festival 20124, the P.E. Rhythmic Dance Competition, was held at the Pelaez Sports Center on August 25 2014. It was participated in by 4 elementary and 4 secondary schools with each of them sending at least 800 P.E. students. Parents, students, members of the local press, schools and government officials and other spectators witnessed the show performed by the student participants. In coordination with the city government, the Department of Education, the City Schools Division and the Department of Tourism have joined effort to organize and successfully carry out the activities of this specific event which is a prelude to the city’s feast day of Saint Augustine on August 28, 2014.