Pasungko Festival | Misamis Occidental
Thanks to Pasungko Festival because we are not anymore stuck in imagining the Subanen culture from textbooks that are most likely to be outdated. And thanks to the Province of Misamis Occidental for keeping it all alive because it is truly an enriching experience.
Barely a decade old, Pasungko Festival takes the limelight every mid-November in Oroquieta City. It is at this time when all Misamisnon on the western side gather to celebrate the bounty of the passing year & their indigenous heritage.
In Focus: The Subanen in Pasungko Festival
Beneath the idyll panorama of Misamis Occidental flutters the cultural heart of the Subanen for whom the province has been home since the time of their ancestors.
They are the biggest ethnic community around Zamboanga Peninsula & Misamis Occidental — but ironically among the least known indigenous Filipinos.
The Subanen were river-dwelling people. But the force of human migration pushed them to the mountains where they thrive on upland agriculture.
They were animistic just like all our native communities. But colonialism changed it all. Most were converted into Christianity & those who embraced Islam are known as the Kolibugan.
While their cultural traditions such as the rituals were pagan & are massively eroded by modernity, some of these folk practices live to this day.
And this is one of the many reasons in staging Pasungko Festival. It is to safeguard their cultural treasures, promote awareness & to show pride of their unique heritage.
Dance to Your Own Beat
Be ready for a multi-sensory delight as feet-stomping dance troupes sweep the streets with unimaginable rhythm & colours. Prepare for infectious energies & smiles that easily win you to strut.
Contingents from various municipalities as well as schools battle it out on the streets in a dancing parade. But it isn’t just a so-so show because Misamis Occidental is home to many of the best festival dancers in the country. And they surely take this pageantry seriously.
Be awed at how a huge ensemble moves as one in fantastic precision. Then there’s the spectacle of gigantic props that change in a blink of an eye like magic. It is truly thrilling to watch everything unfold scene-after-scene of production acrobatics.
However, Pasungko Festival isn’t just an assemblage of stylistics. It is a dramatic narrative of their ethnic rituals told in dance & music.
The Subanen are full of folkloric ceremonies from birth to death, healing & protection to asking for appeasement & thanksgiving to Magbabaya or god.
Now hardly performed, these rites of passage & stories of love, life & death all come as one at the Pasungko Festival. And more than it being an entertainment, it is a way to showcase these time-honoured traditions that technology is sadly replacing.
One Destination, One Festival
Pas’ungko Sg MisOcc or thanksgiving in Subanen is the brainchild of the province’s tourism council. It was conceived through the efforts of Gov. Herminia Ramiro as the highlight of the province’s founding anniversary.
After all, it is always its Subanen heritage at the core of Misamis Occidental’s success.
The festival also brings together the best products from each town in an expo. From the heritage cookies of Aloran & the otap of Plaridel to the bottled milkfish of Baliangao & handicrafts from everywhere, everything is here.
Of course, there is the search for the loveliest queens & parties, because what is Philippine fiesta without it. Also dubbed as the festival of festivals in Misamis Occidental, surely there’s no better time to come than during Pasungko.
A far cry from its first celebration back in 2010, Pasungko Festival today is an amazing display of cultural pride & legacy. No wonder why it bagged the Pearl Award in DOT’s Best Tourism Practices during the 19th convention of the Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines.
Mapiya piya Gandaw!