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Sorsogon’s Kasanggayahan Festival 2013 highlights re-enactment of 1st Mass in Luzon

Community Based Theater Group (CBTG) performs the re-enactment of the first mass in Luzon Island during the opening of Kasanggayahan Festival, Oct. 17, 2013. BICOLTODAY.COM PHOTO - See more at: http://bicoltoday.com/2013/10/20/sorsogons-kasanggayahan-festival-2013-highlights-re-enactment-of-1st-mass-in-luzon/#sthash.yzkeWkHV.dpuf

Community Based Theater Group (CBTG) performs the re-enactment of the first mass in Luzon Island during the opening of Kasanggayahan Festival, Oct. 17, 2013. BICOLTODAY.COM PHOTO

By Azer N. Parrocha

SORSOGON, 20Oct2013 – Sorsogon is not only celebrating its independence from Albay in this year’s Kasanggayahan Festival, it is also rebranding itself as the province which played a huge role in Christianizing the rest of Luzon.

The Kasanggayahan (meaning prosperity in happiness) Festival commemorates the foundation of Sorsogon as a province separate from Albay in 1894. It was first staged in 1974 and revived in 1994.

This year, the festival is staged a week-long (Oct. 17 to Oct 23) and highlights the re-enactment of the first mass in Luzon on a street display of dance and drama featuring paper-mache higantes on its first day (Oct 17).

Like a tableau depicting scenes from the 16th Century, the Community-Based Theater Group, one of Bicol’s finest performers, took control of the streets of Rizal to Magsaysay in Sorsogon in spite of unceasing rains.

Aside from the first mass re-enactment, the Kasanggayahan is also known for Pantomina sa Tinampo which is a courtship dance usually danced in fiestas and weddings, which Sorsogon Mayor Sally Lee participated in herself.

The festival also opened its Kasanggayahan Village and Capitol Park where it presents a museum, culinaria or food fairs and carabao rides.

Tourism boost

Mayor Lee said that this year, the Sorsogon government was really looking into making the Kasanggayahan as recognized as other Filipino festivals like the Sinulog in Cebu or the Ati-Atihan in Aklan.

“It’s only now that we’re discovering what we really have. Before, we really just enjoyed it amongst ourselves (people of Sorsogon),” Lee said during a recent press conference held at the Sorsogon City Hall.

Lee explained that to be able to further highlight Sorsogon’s tourism aspect, the province needed a selling point to capitalize on.

“What do we own in the province (which not any other province has)? The first mass was held here in the province so we capitalize on that,” she said.

“(Aside from the) re-enactment of first mass, Sorsogon is also known for Pantomina sa Tinampo, the food that we have here in the province like the shellfish, Baluko which can be found only in Sorsogon,” she added.

She noted that provincial government of Sorsogon will also be improving tourist attractions such as the Rompeolas, Sorsogon’s very own baywalk, St. Joseph Parish Church or the Barcelona Church and surf-spot beach, Gubat Bay.

Formal recognition

Sorsogon may claim to be the province wherein the first mass in Luzon was celebrated but it has yet to be formally recognized by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).

Lee said that going through all the paper work of formally being recognized will follow but for now, the provincial government will concentrate on its venture to generate more tourists both domestic and foreign.

“We are at the initial stage of promoting the city of Sorsogon,” Lee said. “We have a vision of what we really want to do. All we need to do is learn how to strengthen it.”

Kasanggayahan director and tourism consultant, Milo Naval said that the focus of the provincial government is to draw emphasis on Sorsogon’s tourism potential.

“This is a significant event not only for the province but also to Luzon as a whole,” he said, in a statement.

Through photo and street art displays, Sorsogon folk will also be showcasing its creative talents to further promote art, culture, history and religion in tourism. (PNA)

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