Walking under the Baluartes

May 16, 2011 Travel

Baluartes are defined as bastions or fortifications built to allow defensive fire. In Gumaca, one one of the country's oldest towns, baluartes are built not to defend but to bombard the people with the bounty from the land.

Welcome to Gumaca's "Araña at Baluarte," the town's celebration of the feast of St. Isidore the farmer, which is one of the grandest, colorful and most sincere fiesta I have seen so far.

Celebration starts Saturday evening with "Yupakan" and "Gimikan," a competition of the best yubak and street dance.

It was a mobile party and we hopped from one baluarte to the next to sample the best yupak and watch the youth perform.

Yubaks are local delicacies made of banana (saba) or cassava, mashed with peanut butter, milk, coconut and sugar. District 1 had the best.

Aside from the cooking competition, the barangay also their best "Showtime" moves under their baluartes. Barangay Rizal won the competition for their effort to remain faithful to the meaning of the celebration. Their dancers were dressed like scarecrows, but there was also a bit of a modern twist in their moves.

There were a lot of things happening but it was hard to ignore the cornucopia of colors hanging from the baluartes.

The arañas are chandeliers made of fruits and vegetables.

I was told that there would be more to see the following day, May 15. They sure had more ammunition in stored. 

That I saw when I took another round of the baluartes the morning after. There were ...

more decors

more colors

more gimmicks

more delicacies to sample

and more welcoming smiles.

First place went to District 2 for their very intricate design that pleased the judges.

Second place was awarded to consistent winner, Villa Nava, which surprised the crowd with their puppets, almost similar to what COD had and what Greenhills is showing every Christmas, except that this looks very Filipino.

Third was the baluarte of District 6 that was inspired by a town icon, the Fort San Diego, which was built in the 18th century to thwart sea pirates.

At 2:00 PM, the traditional "pamamasyal" were held where local officials and other townspeople walked the baluartes donning their turn of the century costumes.

They were accompanied by the candidates of Ms. Araña.

After that, a mass was held then the much awaited procession. After the image of St. Isidore passed, the arañas were cut loose to the revelers. People were ready with their sacks.

I really wanted to join the fun but I think I am no match to those men. Good thing the mayor decided to dedicate one baluarte for their guests from the media. It was our turn!

What was really memorable there was actually meeting the people who planted the products. I saw how much pride they have on their produce and I am proud of these farmers.

Thank you very much Gumaca LGU and Tito Randy Urlanda for inviting us to your celebration.

What I really appreciate here is the genuine effort to honor the saint and everything's not lost in the tarpaulines and ads that sometimes litter other celebrations.

Here's another walk under the baluartes with the rest of the 17 participants.

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  1. The last time I experience this myself was 35 years ago so I was so excited to read your blog and you narrated it so well ... brought back a lot of my childhood memories, I actually got emotional :) Thank you so much for sharing. Your pictures are so vivid ... love them all !!