BALANGAY: The Ilonggo Culture's Journey Through Time

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The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on the arts, festivals, and cultural heritage sectors. The crisis affected organizations, as well as individuals in the live events industry.

Various arts and culture organizations try to uphold their mission, with some being indefinitely closed. Exhibitions, events, and performances are canceled or postponed.

The digital space now serves to maintain essential activities with minimal resources, to the safety of the public and cultural workers.

Rheno Mar Segura Soqueño, auditor of the Iloilo Artists Festival Association said, "We, artists, are facing different challenges in the festivals every day. Resiliency and adaptability had developed unconsciously within our system."

The Iloilo Artists Festival Association, in cooperation with the Iloilo City Government, Iloilo Provincial Government (Balita Halin sa Kapitolyo), Iloilo Live Events Alliance , Iloilo Convention Center, and Iloilo Festivals Foundation, Inc., will stream live the province's best festivals on Facebook on August 1, 2020, 6 p.m.

Virtual guided tours on festival costumes and visual arts exhibits are also available from June 30 to August 1, featuring Ilonggo artists such as PG Zoluaga, Boy Masculino, and Steve Magbanua, among many others.

The KABANHAWAN exhibit will commence at 4PM with RCP Represent Band and ECD Dance Company to open the ceremony.

Moreover, an AMLIG Donation Drive for displaced festival artists is slated on July 31, with performances from RCP PRAKATAKERAS, the first and only all-girl drumbeaters in Iloilo City and Panay.

On August 1, 5 p.m., special performances from Sidlangan Dance Company and RCP RITMO TAMBORES will kick-off the featured festival dances.

Festival Capital of the Philippines Cultural workers continue to look for possibilities of social media as museums, gig venues, and other cultural events are finding ways to open their doors to visitors through virtual tours and live-streamed performances.

"We are used to staging cultural presentation live. Digitalization of arts and culture is still in its experimentation stage," Soqueño said.

Social media is the new platform, cultural workers pointed and prompting Culture and Heritage online is a challenge.

"It was heartbreaking, but eventually being optimistic allowed me to plan different coping mechanism strategies to survive," he said.

Cultural festivals typically form a big role for many Ilonggos. But this year, concerts and other events are called off, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in large crowds. 

This upends traditions according to some local individuals. "Nami guid ya mag-dagyang sa ciudad upod as mga iban nga pamilya. Pero bal-an man namon nga para man ni sa kaayuhan sang aton mga kasinmanwa," Nang Pepit, a vendor, 48 years old, said.

While nothing replicates the merrymaking of Dingayang, Pintados de Passi, or Saad Festival of Leganes, Ilonggos will have to experience arts, culture, and heritage online at the comforts of their own home.

Safety first

Look! Our dancers will still have to practice social distancing and wearing of masks. The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) makes regular visits to instill COVID-19 prevention practices among the groups.

There are also representatives from different organizations to ensure the observation of COVID-19 prevention protocols.

Dancers take regular breaks and practice half a day to curb breathing restrictions and discomfort./Glory Moralidad


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