Festivities in the Philippines are yearly events to commemorate traditions, a town’s colorful history or even its unthinkable religious beliefs. Aside from religion, sometimes a festival is vital during harvest time. Religious commemoration and thanksgiving are put together in that particular event. Angono, a first-class municipality in the province of Rizal, Philippines is known as the Arts Capital of the Philippines.

Angono Rizal's Higantes Festival is a fluvial festivity in honor of San Clemente.

Angono Rizal’s Higantes Festival is a fluvial festivity in honor of San Clemente.

Angono was a humble pueblo in 1766, and was only proclaimed as an independent municipality in 1935 by then President Manuel Quezon. One of their famous festivals that add color and joy to Angono’s town fiesta, is the Higantes Festival. It features giant paper maches that measure about four to five feet in diameter and ten to twelve feet in height. Angono, which is geographically found in Rizal, Philippines honors San Clemente with this joyous and major festival of Angono. San Clemente is the patron saint of fishermen. His sacred image wore a papal vest and is being carried by male devotees during a procession and is being accompanied by His devotees who are usually clad in their colorful and local costumes or in fishermen’s clothes. They are also wearing wooden shoes and even carry some boat paddles, fish nets and traps with the Higantes (giant paper mache images). The procession is being held in the streets and is culminated in a fluvial procession in Laguna de Bay. Then, the patron saint’s image is brought back to its most revered sanctuary.

How did it all began? The tradition of honoring the saints with the Higantes began last century when Angono was still a Spanish hacienda. In those years, hacienda owners were concerned about the primal costs which were prohibited in all celebrations except for their annual fiesta. The townspeople then, were concerned more about enjoyment and they even decided to make the best out of life’s bad circumstances. To date, they had used an art form which was brought from Mexico by Spanish priests and created an even larger than life cartoon-like figures of their Spanish landlords. In a traditional Filipino fashion, the fiesta is an elaborate celebration. There was a story of a French man, who happened to pass by the coastal town of Laguna de Bay, while he was travelling from Manila Bay. Enchanted by the town which was divided by a river, he foretold that someday giants would come out and become famous.

True to his words, Angono can now proudly show off two National Artists.- Carlos Botong Francisco in the field of Visual Arts and Professor Lucio D. San Pedro in the field of music. Hence, there are other Angono sons and daughters who are becoming famous or giants in their chosen field of endeavor. Apart from the Higantes Festival, paper mache is an art that dates us back during the Spanish Era. The head of the giant is fashioned from a mold made of clay and then dried under the sun. With the dawn of modernization and technology, clay has been changed to plaster of Paris and resin. The mold is passed with lots of newspapers. Then, it is splitted into the middle and then dried under the sun. After which, it is pasted with the brown paper then dried in the sun dried and painted afterwards. The giant’s body is made of bamboo, but other materials like rattan and thin iron bars can also be used. Also, yards of clothing materials and accessories finally complete the costume of the giants.

The town fiesta of Angono features a famous family. It is consists of three figures. A father, mother and a son. In 1987, Mr. Perdigon Vocalan visualized the idea of having a Higantes Festival wherein all the barangays in Angono are to be represented by two to four Higantes symbolizing the industry or the unique personality of the barangay. This idea has fruitfully materialized with the support given by the Department of Tourism and the Provincial Tourism Office. This kind of Higantes Festival features thirty-nine different giants. There is one giant with a duck on its head and another one with a basketful of duck eggs representing a barangay that is known for its fried itik and balut making. There goes the story of the Higantes Festival in Angono Rizal.

Category: Interesting

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