DEPED OFFICIALS’ PARTICIPATION IN THE EVOLUTION OF AKLAN FESTIVALS
Who says that when the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) was re-christened as Department of Education (DepEd), its role in nation building had been drastically diminished?
No! In fact it is a reversed. Public schools all over the country are now more into sports, more into the promotion and enhancement of the local culture and traditions.
In Aklan, public school teachers are permanent fixtures of long existing and newly evolved town festivals of the province. Festival celebrations are successfully held in every town with the public schools system playing a major role to its color, gaiety and grandeur.
The Ati-atihan Festival of the capital town of Kalibo is heavily attended to by pupils, students and teachers of the public school system of the entire division of Aklan. Culminating every third Sunday of January, public school teachers and their students has a day of street dancing and cultural presentations. The grand participation of the public school teachers in the entire Aklan division to the Kalibo Ati-atihan festival requires several weeks if not months of practicing choreographed street dancing numbers and cultural presentations by district.
In my hometown of Balete, whose festival is dubbed as Enchanting Balete requires the full and unconditional participation of all schools in the district. Presentations depict the tradition, indigenous culture, superstitious beliefs and sources of livelihood of Balete residents in every barangay.
The grand cultural presentation takes a whole of the culminating day of the “Enchanting Balete” festival every October.
This,too,requires several weeks of preparation among teachers and students.
Elsewhere, in the province, staging of the town festivals and local history commemoration are next to impossible without the public schools’ participation. For this, the Division of Aklan has made it a policy for public schools to fully support the evolution and staging of festivals.
Not only Kalibo has its exclusive version of the Ati-atihan. Batan, Altavas, Makato, Ibajay and Malinao have their respective version of the Ati-atihan. Other towns had developed festivals unique to its place, Nabas has its Bariw Festival, Buruanga, its Panagat Festival, Bugna it Tanga-ean for Tangalan, Sagibin Festival of Banga, Lechon Parade of Numancia, Fiesta de Obreros of Malay, and the Paskwa sa Malinao Festival.
During the Kalibo Ati-atihan celebration, all these festivals are paraded and staged at the Kalibo Pastrana Park.
Local historical events commemorations, too, are staged with the full participation of the teachers like the Aklan Anniversary celebration in April, the Pacto de Sangre of New Washington, the XIX Martyrs of Aklan in Kalibo, the Juez de Cuchillo of Batan, the Pag aeaw-aeaw of Banga, Levantamiento de Lilo-an, of Malinao, and the Battle of Vivo of Tangalan. /MP