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Local artist deplores Tinagba's mutation

TINAGBA Festival. The feast of harvest, offering, and thanksgiving is being celebrated in Iriga City every February 11 in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes. PHOTO BY PAULO DS. PAPA

IRIGA CITY --- Multi-awarded Bicolano writer and film maker Kristian Sendon Cordero has recently criticized the continuous transition of cultural and civic reputation of Tinagba festival here.

Lawyer Jose Calleja Reyes, according to Cordero, started the Tinagba festival in the 1980’s to attract people from outside of the city to visit his Ibalon Hotel.

Tinagba, a harvest festival, came from the word "tagba", used to identify the first crops harvested.

Long before the arrival of the Spaniards in the country, “Itum”, the indigenous people living on the shoulders of Mt. Asog, offer their tagbas to the spirits for good harvest.

They used to practice the ritual of offering, which was headed by a feminine priest named "asog" who was believed to reside in the Calvario Hill, where the Emerald Grotto of the Our Lady of Lourdes is situated today. Nowadays, the offerings are done at the parish of St. Anthony de Padua and they are given to the orphans, persons deprived of liberty (PDLs), and members of the religious orders.

Some groups of Itum people participate in the parade, dancing while wearing their traditional hunting attire, The festival has its spiritual, historical, and cultural significance, but Cordero said, some of the crops offering now in Tinagba are no longer real crops.

He said that when he was young, he saw real crops such as sinkamas decorating the floats in the parade and the crops were thrown together with candies to the spectators. Recently, the sinkamas has became synthetic, made of styrofoam.

"Dakulaon na sinkamas pero dae mo man makakan" (Its a huge sinkamas but you can't eat it) he said.

Cordero said the festival of harvest and offering has became a gathering for showbiz personalities, erasing in the process its spiritual aspect molded by the active role of the Catholic church.

Cordero also blamed the cultural confusion to the ati-atihan dance, where street dancers were painted in black and danced like the Itum.

"I think its a mockery of the indigenous people. We color ourselves to make fun of them", he said.

In addition to these changes in the festival, Cordero said that the Ortega family already owned the grotto.

The festival is celebrated every Feb. 11, the feast day of the Our Lady of Lourdes. Cordero said Reyes, the founder of the festival, became a devotee of the Our Lady of Lourdes after his wife was miraculously healed from a deadly disease. His devotion led to the building of the grotto.

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