Laguna opens Anilag Festival

By Saul Pa-a

March 4, 2019, 8:50 am

STA. CRUZ, Laguna -- Laguna opened over the weekend the Anilag Festival, dubbed as the "mother of harvest festivals", to showcase the province's bountiful harvest, rich culture, and its people's talents and skills.

Laguna Governor Ramil Hernandez led the opening rites with Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food Security, at the sprawling festival site that was spruced up with artistic booths, and agricultural products and livelihood showcases of the six component cities and 24 towns of the province.

Hernandez told Lagunenses and visitors to the province to enjoy the week-long festival with the theme, “Sama-sama ang Pamilya sa Masayang Laguna (united as a family in a joyful Laguna)". Villar also hailed the provincial government and festival organizers for focusing on the agricultural harvest of the province.

The colorful and artistic arc entrance of “Anilag” or “Ani ng Laguna” (the harvests of Laguna) Festival at the Provincial Capitol Festival Site where booths, farm harvests, food specialties, crafts and products are showcased in the week-long festivities in Sta. Cruz, Laguna from March 2 to 9, 2019. (Photo by Saul E. Pa-a)


She said the festival brings about "consciousness and inspiration" to the farmers, fisherfolk and agricultural workers in their contribution to sustain food sufficiency and food security not only for Laguna but also the entire country.

She urged the local government to support the agriculture sector to ensure their development and sustainability and increase food productivity and sufficiency.

Aside from the booth competition, 12 local government units (LGUs) joined the float competition, while 10 street dance groups slugged it out in the streetdance showdown during the afternoon parade. Prizes included PHP1 million cash and trophies for the grand prize winners, PHP500,000 and PHP300,000 for the second and third place winners, respectively, in three categories.

Calamba City’s “Buhayani” booth depicting national hero Dr. Jose Rizal’s life and works with montages of his classics “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo”, and the iconic “kalan-banga” (clay stove and pot) bedecked with flowers erected at the “Anilag Festival” site in the Provincial Capitol complex, Sta. Cruz, Laguna for the festival run from March 2 to 9, 2019. (Photo by Saul E. Pa-a)

In an interview, Dr. Rosauro A. Sta. Maria Jr. said the overarching goal of “Rise High Laguna” is to promote the province’s tourist spots and natural wonders. The province, known for its hot and cold springs, made the province as "the country’s spring resort capital”, as it is surrounded by Mt. Makiling and Mt. Banahaw.

“Our province provides glimpses of nature at its best with the majestic Mt. Makiling and Mt. Banahaw, both tropical forest reserves that are filled with legends and folklore," Sta. Maria said, also citing the perennial tourism come-ons of the therapeutic and invigorating cold and hot spring resorts in Liliw, Nagcarlan, Majayjay, Los Baños, and Calamba City.

The artistic booths here also serve as tourist information centers and showrooms during the festival, with the famous Pagsanjan Falls sharing the limelight with the Magdapio Falls of adjacent Cavinti town.

He also noted the ongoing development of the  Panguil River Eco-Park with trekking to Ambon-Ambon Falls; mountain climbing, trekking and camping in Mt. Makiling; and wakeboarding in Canlubang, Calamba City.

The festival street dancers during the opening rites at the Provincial Capitol complex, Sta. Cruz, Laguna on March 2, 2019 (Photo by Saul E. Pa-a)

“We take pride in our rich heritage and culture and colorful history as we have the Rizal Shrine, home of our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal; various museums and art galleries; centuries-old churches among them in Pila, Majayjay; and the underground cemetery in Nagcarlan, which are now declared national heritage sites,” he added.

Sta. Maria said they are pursuing the cleanup of “Laguna de Bay”, Spanish for “lagoon of the beautiful” as the country’s largest and third largest living lake in Asia, with the lakeshore town of Bay, the first capital of Laguna.

He said they are sustaining protection and conservation through the respective LGUs of the unique “Seven Lakes” in San Pablo City and the pristine bodies of water in Caliraya’s man-made lake; Lumot lake in Cavinti; the natural lakes in Kalayaan and Cavinti; and the “dinosaur” volcanic lake in Los Baños.

A showcase of ingenuity and craftsmanship of the iconic sculptors and carvers of Paete, Laguna where melons could be “transformed” into a pineapple or a rose. Their “taka” Papier-mâché art and sculptures are displayed at the Paete booth during the week-long “Anilag Festival” at the Provincial Capitol Complex, Sta. Cruz, Laguna from March 2 to 9, 2019. (Photo by Saul E. Pa-a)  

The “Anilag Festival” also showcases the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the iconic wood sculptors and “taka” (papier maché) makers of Paete, the time-honored tradition of “barong" embroideries in Lumban, which add to the rich heritage and culture and colorful history of Laguna.

Sta. Maria added that Laguna is famous for the gastronomic delights and delectable dishes, such as the famous buko pie, tasty puto, espasol, uraro, salted eggs, kinulob na itik, bulalo, kesong puti, and the native makapuno bibingka, among other delicacies.

Sunday’s events included the “Anilag” Color Run and Foam Party, body-building competition, Mari Gray and LGBTQ Queens Parade, as well as medical services at the HIV treatment hub at the Laguna Medical Center, the “Little Mr. and Ms. Laguna”, and the Laguna Gay Queen and Lesbian King tilts. (PNA)