Every day in the Philippines is a day of vibrant color, new experiences, and a celebration. In this case, quite literally. The festival of Pulang Angui (the festival of the Red Lady) is a local tradition in the town of Polangui that happens in the month of June (all of June), and they had their traditional dance competition on Monday, June 26th (See my Facebook for pictures).
The dance told the story of a warrior who fell in love with a woman in red (the Red Lady). But, there was an evil witch who also loved the warrior, and she cursed the Red Lady (or killed her?) and bewitched the warrior. Then, a good fairy came and released the Red Lady from her curse and drove away the witch, and Red Lady and the warrior lived happily ever after.
It’s a classic tale, told through dance and pageantry. The local high schools choreographed their dances and made their props and costumes, which only serves to make the whole event more impressive and inspiring. The dances had the additional requirement of not only retelling the legend, but also demonstrating unity and “One Polangi”.
We were given positions of honor on the stage so we could see the whole of the festival, and (of course) asked to make the obligatory welcoming statement. Then, we watched the festival. It was… amazing. These students were volunteers, motivated by pride and genuine love of their community. They put in hours of work after school and during the weekends, at least 30 kids in each troupe, all for this day. They performed, smiling, in blistering heat, several times over to represent their schools.
Before we went to Polangi, we went to Kristina’s home for lunch and a brief swim in a local spring, and the Hoyop-Hoyopan cave.
Kristina’s family was so welcoming! They cooked a feast for Jenn, Greg, and me: steamed tilapia, fish in sweet potato leaves, sauteed vegetables, rice (of course), and lechon! We had sliced mangoes for desert! It was an amazing time to spend in fellowship on a Sunday (Jenn, Greg, Rosa, Kristina, Noemie, Orland, Me, and Kristina’s family). I felt truly honored and welcomed in this home! Of course, the food was amazing. I couldn’t eat enough, and I’m a little sorry we left so much of it uneaten. But, that’s OK, we were assured that the leftovers would be put to good use!
Before then, we visited Hoyop Hoyopan Cave. It’s series of caves with 4 openings to the outside near Camalig. During the Japanese occupation, the residents of Camalig hid in the caves and avoided capture. The opening they used to enter the caves was later “expanded” into the opening we used to enter the cave. Inside, we found fossilized bones of a human trapped in the cave formations, pillars, stalactites, stalagmites, curtains,, straws, pools, rivers, and crystal formations. As we walked, we followed a path that led us through all four openings, until we got to a large chamber (and the fourth opening) that had a DANCE FLOOR! Woo!
It was so much fun! The guide was so knowledgeable about the history and geology of the caves. He knew the minerals and the terminology for the different structures. It was so special to see these things first hand and in the Philippines! It reminded me how important it is take students on field trips so they can gain hands-on experience in science.