PILI, CAMARINES SUR (Oct 24, 2012) – In time for its 193rd annual fiesta, this capital town celebrates today the Cimarrones Festival in honor of tribesmen who were mentioned on record to have roamed the areas in the slope of Mount Isarog in the 17th century.
Cimarrones are members of a warrior tribe who tried to resist the invasion of Spanish colonizers and it is in honor of the bravery of the natives that the Cimarrones Fesival, now on its 8th year, is held every 3rd week of October.
Pili Mayor Tomas Bongalonta said on Wed. (Oct. 24) that 15 public elementary schools and high schools in the 26 villages here participated in the “Cimarrones” street dancing contest to get a piece of the Php. 200,000 worth of cash and government projects that were awarded by the local government to participating schools this year.
During the festival, Department of Tourism (DOT) Bicol director Maria “Nini” Ravanilla said that in 2003, the “Cimarrones festival” street dancers of Pili town composed of 150 youngsters represented the DOT in Bicol in the Philippine Travel Mart at the Mega-Mall in 2003 and they also represented the Camarines Sur province in the 2003 DOT “Wow Philippines” showdown of festivals in Intramuros Manila.
This year, the Cimarrones Festival was cited 2nd runner-up in the “Gayon Festival” held in Legazpi City, Albay in April and won the Grand-Champion in the street-dancing competition of the “Tig-ao festival” in Tigaon, Camarines Sur in August this year.
Bongalonta said the festival was created as a historical tribute by the people of Pili to their tribal ancestors whose warriors frequently fought the Spanish colonizers at the foot of Mt. Isarog in the 1600s in efforts to resist invasion.
The conversion of the natives to Christianity sometime in 1712 made them the first devotees of Our Lady of Peñafrancia and paved the way for their assimilation to the ways of the colonizers. Spanish missionary Don Miguel Robles de Covarrubias convinced the Cimarrones to build the first nipa chapel for the patroness of Bicolandia, which now stands as the Peñafrancia Shrine in Naga City.
Aside from the Cimarrones Festival, two other major festivals were held simultaneously - the Masskara Festival in Bacolod City and the Panaghiusa Festival in Tagum City, Davao del Norte, all for the purpose of preserving local cultures. (SONNY SALES)