Kawayan Festival is one of the mostly anticipated celebrations in the town of Alegria, Cebu.
The first fiesta celebration started in 2006 to respond to the call of the governor to help attract visitors to promote each town’s resources.
To make it not totally new, the festival is made to coincide with the town’s fiesta celebrations in honor of their patron saint. In this case, Alegria celebrates St Francis Xavier annually on December 2-3.
This interesting festival is celebrated through various events including the colorful and vibrant street dancing competition.
‘Kawayan’ is a transliteration for the word ‘bamboo’ of this Cebuano word. I think it is quite creative to promote the town through one of its sources of livelihood, that is, using bamboo as materials for creating products of various sorts. By the way, fishing and farming are other two major sources of income among Alegrianons.
Flexibility of bamboo
Bamboos are one of the most common tropical plants in the country and they are useful and handy in various ways and situations. They are not only flexible but quite adaptable to most types of weather and soil types.
In many countries, bamboos are used to build houses because they can be easily prepared and can fit or made into various shapes and sizes by only using knives and basic carpentry tools, unlike logs that need chainsaws and heavy cutting tools.
Bamboos can be readily transported, prepared to suit to any purpose. Compared to concrete and wooden materials, bamboos create a different aura and ambiance when used as a house material.
In particular, a tropical resort accommodation or anything that compose relaxation or vacation facilities bamboos are more appealing and attractive. It just looks different aside from the cool and refreshing atmosphere inside the room. Bamboos do not absorb heat unlike concrete and other materials, thus keeping a room cool during hot season or sunny days.
Among other events during these festive days, the street mardi gras is the most popular one attracting spectators from both local residents and foreign guests.
The contingents wear costumes that are bamboo inspired designs or motifs. The costumes portray aspects of the town’s culture, history as well as their livelihood that come from using bamboo materials.
Selected judges use criteria to pick various contingents of this street dancing competition. Such criteria could include the costumes designs, dance steps or routine, vibrancy, creativity involved and the overall impact of their presentation.
Parade & Showcase of Kawayan Products
During the parade, floats are loaded with bamboo products of all sorts aside from the pretty models being surrounded by the products.
While parading, the contingents dance with the lively beat of drums and music with their colorful and vibrant bamboo signature dance steps and costumes.
The products being paraded include: bamboo beds, furniture, home decors, accessories, kitchen tools, tables, and other tools and materials commonly used at homes.
Certainly, there are lots of uses that are not applied by people. Hopefully, these additions may help. So, here are some of the usages for those who don’t know yet…
Bamboo has bamboo shoots that can be used to prepare broths, veggies in sliced forms, fermented state, pickled bamboo, etc. I love it as boiled with coconut milk or cooked as fried and mixed with other veggies and food products such as prawns, etc.
The Chinese use bamboo as healing material for treating infections of various sorts. In India, the fermented bamboo paste can be used as remedy for impotence, infertility and menstrual related pangs (Wikipedia).
Like wood, bamboos can be used as a material with high strength useful for structures and in construction. In various cultures, bamboos are used as simple suspension bridges, nipa hut, split and woven as wall materials, fencing, fountains, grates and gutters, flooring, cabinetry, etc.
Since Cebu Province is considered the first Christian island in the country, most celebrations on the island have religious roots. Most of the time, festivals are celebrated to honor a particular patron saint, in this case, St Francis Xavier, Alegria’s patron saint.
In the town center, there stood an old church which is dedicated to this very saint called St Francis Xavier Church. The church is built right beside the town hall and is one of the oldest churches in the province (1857).
If you got interested to witness this Kawayan Festival in Alegria, please remember that feast day of St Francis Xavier – December 3. The good thing about fiestas in the Philippines is that you are always welcome to enjoy the food of somebody else’s house without proper invitations. Truly!