Banner photo source: Iking Dalusong
Every July, the province of Bohol comes alive with merry-making and riotous street dancing as they celebrate the blood compact between Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legaspi and Boholano Chieftain Datu Sikatuna featuring unique Boholano dance movements – a blend of “kuradang”, “nilambay” and “kuracha”.
The blood compact is an indigenous ritual of friendship and brotherhood in which two drops of blood extracted from two wounded breasts are mixed in a cup of wine. They then drink the wine simultaneously. In the vernacular, this is called Sandugo (isang dugo) or One Blood, One Compact.
The blood compact that took place in March 16, 1565 celebrates the kinship between two people of different nationalities, religious beliefs, and cultures and is considered as the Philippine’s first international treaty, reason enough to celebrate.
This year, the Sandugo Festival takes on a whole different meaning as the entire province looks heavenward in thanksgiving for being able to rise above the disaster brought on by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake which claimed some lives, destroyed some old heritage sites and set back Bohol’s tourism industry a year ago.
In an interview with national media on the morning of the festival, Bohol Governor Edgar M. Chatto, Chairperson of this year’s festivities, was both candid and hopeful that the “temporary” setback has given Bohol the breathing space it needed to re-assess its situation before reclaiming its position as a top tourist destination in the country.
Prior to the earthquake, an emergency response team aptly christened “T.A.R.S.I.E.R. 117” (Telephone and Radio System Integrated Emergency Response) similar to Emergency 911 was already in place, as trained by resource persons from the New York Police Department, this according to the governor.
“Just imagine if this was not the case, I would have been alone in assessing the damage as everyone, including provincial and city government personnel were busy attending to their own families. It would have been equally disastrous not to have the right information. We wouldn’t have known the extent of the damage but because TARSIER was already in place, everyone did their part, information started coming in and we knew by the afternoon that we had a disaster. We were able to send food to the municipalities that were greatly affected by the evening because we had timely information and were able to respond quickly.”
He said that for heritage sites (churches) that could no longer be retro-fitted, new churches will be built and the ruins converted as extant reminders of the earthquake.
Governor Chatto considers the earthquake as a temporary setback as it has given the province new geological and geo-science wonders to add on to Bohol’s tour packages. He cited as examples the 3 out of 1,268 chocolate hills spread over the municipalities of Carmen, Sagbayan and Batuan that were damaged and literally cut in half. This has given geologists and scientists a chance to study the inner structure of the hills. In another municipality, a section of land had been raised above sea level, the site now being considered as the ideal location to build a geological museum similar to the one constructed in Kobe, Japan which also experienced an earthquake of similar magnitude.
Unlike the previous years when the Sandugo Foundation, an NGO, oversaw the festivities, this year’s celebration brought together the Provincial Tourism Council, the Provincial Government of Bohol, and the City Government of Tagbilaran. This year also saw an increase in participating contingents in the street dancing, from only six in 2013 to a full dozen. Even the Governor was game enough to don a costume and ride on a float!
Photo sources: Mr. Bing Luspo and Mr. Reno Flores/Bohol Provincial Tourism Office
This year’s grand champion is the Bohol Island State University (BISU) contingent, 1st Runner Up being the Balilihan town contingent and 2nd Runner Up the Holy Name University (HNU) contingent.
This coverage was made possible as a part of USAID’s Advancing Philippine Competitiveness (COMPETE) project which seeks to increase competitiveness of economic growth areas including Bohol, in partnership with the Department of Tourism and the Province of Bohol.
Budget Accommodations in Bohol