“Ang Batangas ay hindi lamang ang Calaca, Tuy, San Juan, Bauan, Tanauan, Lipa at lahat ng mga bayan sa ating lalawigan. Higit sa lahat, ang Batangas ay kayo, tayong mga Batangueñong kumikilos para sa lalo pang ikabubuti at ikagaganda ng ating lalawigan.” – Governor Vilma Santos-Recto
Much has been said about how festive our very own Ala Eh! Festival is. But for the past years of documenting the what we dubbed as “the mother of all Batangas Festivals”, we say it could only get better and better.
If you were there to witness the festival yourself, you would understand why a lot of spectators got teary-eyed. For a positive reason, that is. The festival which showcased extremely talented young Batangueños was more than just an event typified with drum beats, gaudy costumes, and numbered dance steps. This festival is a representation of everything that Batangas is. And the Batangueño spirit lingered all throughout the venue on that jovial day of December 8th.
Ala Eh! Festival 2011, the competition per se, was divided into four contests: Street Dance, 5-Minute Court Dance, Festival Float, and Festival Costume competitions. Sixteen contingents competed in the Street Dance Competition while there were 17 groups who contended for the 5-Minute Court Dance Exhibition.
The Street Dance competition is far different from the 5-Minute Dance Exhibition as the latter was characterized by stunts, more arduous dance routines, and full-size backdrops, rolling stages, and props.
The dancers of the Tawilis Festival of Agoncillo were the best ones in the Street Dance Competition, seconded by San Juan’s Lambayok Festival dancers and then followed by Tuy’s Kambingan Festival on the third spot. Although they were the third best in street dancing, Tuy’s group bested the rest in the 5-Minute Court Dance Exhibition. Dancers of San Juan’s Lambayok Festival and Lemery’s Sigpawan Festival came in at second and third places respectively.
Meanwhile, 18 towns and the City of Lipa, overwhelmed the streets of Calaca (the host municipality) with their festival floats. The Float Competition is a battle of both mechanical and aesthetic geniuses in which the towns’ festivals or significant trademarks were depicted. Agoncillo’s giant-looking maiden following a smaller float amazed the audience and apparently the judges as well because they won the Best Festival Float. Lambayok Festival was also a big winner this year as they placed second again in the float competition which was once more followed by Kambingan Festival.
What make a festival more appealing are the vibrant, inventive costumes the contingents are wearing. Can you imagine what a huge effort were spent (plus the money invested) in creating such costumes? The Best Festival Costume went to Lambayok Festival of San Juan followed by Tawilis Festival of Agoncillo and then Coco Festival of Mataasnakahoy.
A Collaborative Effort
Ala Eh! Festival 2011 would not be a grand feat if not for the efforts put forward by the Executive Committe headed by the Over-All Chairman, Mr. Pedrito Martin Dijan, Jr. and the man who welcomed the entire Ala Eh! Festival participants, Mayor Sofronio “Nas” Ona of Calaca.
Of course, all these were supported by the HEARTS and SOUL of Batangas Province – Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto and Vice Gov. Mark Leviste. Each year, Ala Eh! Festival ignites solidarity among the locals. It’s hard not to feel the spirit of oneness when people from all walks of life – pure-blooded Batangueños or not – move together to one beat of the drum, sway to one rhythm of Batangas pride.