March 15, 2013

Festival Review – Sillag: The Poro Point Festival of Lights

Before anything else, I'd like to extend a big THANK YOU to Azalea Residences, a hotel in Baguio, for bringing me and seven other Cordillera-based bloggers to the Sillag Festival. 'Twas a smooth and comfortable ride. We can never thank you enough. A huge SHOUTOUT to Thunderbird Resorts as well for giving us the chance of covering the said festival. It was sweet (for lack of a better word) of you to invite us. Without these two institutions, us seeing Sillag wouldn't have been possible. So thanks and more power to you both.

It's also worth mentioning that we've only seen the second half of the festival as we were there on the second day. However, as the major and most-anticipated activities in the festival were scheduled during the second day, I think I wouldn't be overstating it if I say we saw 80% of the festival.

The Sillag Festival got its name from “sillag” which is the Ilocano term for moonbeam or illumination from the moon. How you should pronounce “sillag”, I honestly don't know. But with the double “i”, I guess you need to pronounce it with a harder tongue.

The festival was first held in April of 2012 so it's just on its sophomore year. This year's edition (and last year's) was organized by the Poro Point Management Corporation (PPMC) and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) in partnership with the province of La Union and Thunderbird Resorts.

The highlights of the festival included an air show (paragliding, ultralight show), a street dancing competition, a lantern fluvial parade, the lighting of hope lanterns, a drill performance by cadets from the Philippine Military Academy and a pyromusical show. Needless to say, that's a ton of really interesting events scheduled for a single day. The air show was supposed to also include a hot air balloon but this didn't push through because of the weather condition.

Majority of the events were held at the Thunderbird Resorts Open Space, Boardwalk and Amphitheater. By late afternoon, the thousands of people who went to see the festival were treated by Philippine Military Academy cadets with a crowd-pleasing drill performance. The crowd loved it and showed so by showering the cadets with rounds of applause during their performance. The future soldiers ended their drill with a rose-giving act wherein they gave red roses to people in the audience. I've never seen that before. Maybe a PMA thing.

Living up to its name of “Festival of Lights”, the street dancing competition segment of the event featured several teams with all sorts of light-emitting costumes. Great attires. Cool makeups. Well worked out choreographies. Humongous props. It's quite a sight to behold. Add to these the evident preparedness of the participants, and you're sure to have a crowd-winner. But alas, it didn't come to be. The participants had it all going for them except for the fact that they were left with too little space for their performances.

Don't get me wrong, the Thunderbird Resorts Open Space ground is wide enough. Its just that the spectators packed too close to the performing teams creating a choked space. The participating teams were left with limited space to strut their stuff. Because of this, only a handful of the audience were able to see the dances. There was a large video screen projecting the competition but the feed was just too dark and hazy that you really can't make out what's going on. 

Another highlight of the festival was the Lantern Fluvial Display. There were about a dozen boats adorned with all kinds of lights,lined up and facing the shore (Thunderbird Resorts Boardwalk). It was a beautiful sight. The sea came afire with the lights from the boats. I and probably everybody else would've loved the boats to inch closer to shore. But that may have been not possible because of the shallow shores.

And then there's the lighting of the hope lanterns. A lot of the people didn't follow the lighting schedule so it was more like “just do what you gotta do”. Nevertheless, the sight of flickering lanterns floating to meet the heavens was beautiful. And the experience of lighting one yourself and letting it float away was really something. You get a certain high out of it.

And then the fireworks came. For over ten minutes, fireworks lighted up the sky, the beach and the sea. A great way to cap off a fun-filled afternoon/evening. To everyone behind the creation and staging of the Sillag Festival, kudos to all of you. Until next year.

Now off to the Azalea van and back home to Baguio City. Happy. Fulfilled. See you again San Fernando in 2014. 

More pages on the Sillag Festival:

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