The pandemic and natural disasters have put the island’s economy under strain. But that hasn’t halted Catandunganons from paying homage to the abacaleros.
After a two-year hiatus, celebrations are finally poised to take place in the streets. The Abaca Festival is an annual festival held in Virac, Catanduanes during the last week of May.
And finally, Catanduanes relaunched its Abaca festival. It is a celebration of the island’s indigenous fiber which brought pride and prosperity to the province.
Catanduanes is the Abaca Capital of the country
Catanduanes produce the most abaca in the Philippines.
On April 22, President Duterte declared Catanduanes as the Abaca Capital of the Philippines. The declaration acknowledges the province as the country’s top producer of abaca fiber or Manila hemp.
Gov. Joseph Cua stated that additional financing from the national government will be allocated for the development of the abaca industry. It will also add livelihood programs for more than 13,000 farmers in the province.
Happy Island Against the Odds
Philippine Motorcycle Tourism Ambassador, Jet Lee, attended the week-long festival celebration with over 130 motorcyclists in the country. The team rides a 360-degree adventure ride around the island which showcased the beauty of the province.
The festival has a lot of programs. It featured abaca stripping competitions, street-dancing competitions, and a variety of other competitions that showcased the wonders of abaca.
The event also offered agricultural, business, trade, and job fairs, which provided hundreds of work opportunities for the locals.
However, unlike the usual street dancing competition held in previous years, which was only performed in Virac. The street dancing competition was held separately in the 11 towns of the province. It represents each municipality’s talent while following health and safety protocols.
Despite the threat of the pandemic, the Abaca Festival remains remarkable.
The locals built colored and artistically crafted arches. It serves as a backdrop for festival dancers from each town. It flaunts the finest Arko Abaca creations that display the hometown’s culture and arts. The festival dancers danced gracefully with the rhythm of native original folk songs. Without minding the heat, all you can see is the brightest smile on their lips.
Meanwhile, several abaca strippers from various municipalities showcased their stripping skills in the modified abaca hand stripping competition. It was inspiring to witness the perseverance of the abaca strippers as they focus on every fiber they put their hands into. Not only that, but the competition also showed us the strength of women.
Abaca is Catanduanganons way of life. It is the primary and major source of livelihood in the province. It was a life-saving job that fed many tables, and it changed the lives of countless Bicolanos.
The 6th Abaca Festival ended with success.
And the beauty of Catanduanes does not only lie with the place but also within the welcoming hearts of its people.
Because it’s not only the place, it’s not only the food, but the people per se are the attractions of Catanduanes.
Christine loves writing prose and poetry. Her indecisiveness has led her to discover the media industry. She believed that it is only through learning the art of words that a person can truly understand the significance and value of life.