Wednesday, August 27, 2014

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!”