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Ancient boats and majestic weaves at Pakaradyan Festival.

As an archipelago, ancient Philippines takes pride of a rich tradition of sailing and maritime trading even during the pre-Spanish period. A prominent boat which is a common sight in southern Mindanao is the guinakit, used by Moro royalty in navigating the coastal and inland waterways.

Such vessel is believed to be one used by Malay missionary Shariff Kabunsuan in preaching and spreading the Islamic faith in the south.

But over the years, with the modernization of shipping, the colorful iconic boat has been relegated to oblivion and is only revived occasionally during special occasions to showcase the rich Islamic culture.

The town of Malapatan in Sarangani province is among the few localities which relive this rich seafaring heritage in the Guinakit sa Sugoda Malapatan as part of the annual Pakaradyan Festival. Now on its 14th edition, the event's highlight is the maritime parade and competition of modern renditions of guinakit boats by entries from the town's barangays.

The recent festivity was doubly special as marked the 50th town's founding anniversary when it was carved out from its mother town of Glan, which was part of then part of the Empire Province of Cotabato which covers present-day Soccsksargen region.

Other highlights during the festivity are the float parade, the 50 Icons of Malapatan photo exhibit, and the kuyog, a traditional march done by Islamic royals usually done during weddings, to commemorate the arrival of Moros during the pre-Spanish era.

The march was led by outgoing Municipal Mayor Alfredo Singcoy to symbolize the unity in diversity of the town's tri-people-the Moros, dominated by the Maguindanaon tribe, the Blaan indigenous people and the Visayan Christian settlers.

Adding glamor and cultural significance to this year's Pakaradyan is the inauguration by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts of the weaving center of Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan Bai Estelita Bantilan, a master weaver of the traditional Blaan igem or mat.

Also known as the National Living Treasure, Bantilan was given the accolade in early 2017 by President Duterte, and was officially honored at Malacanang early this year.

Located at Upper Lasang village, the indigenous hut will become a cultural hub and the newest tourist attraction in Sarangani.

Situated on the eastern coast of Sarangani Bay, the town is an agricultural and fisheries town, and is regarded as the cultural hub of the province. It was coined from the Blaan words mala and fatan which means a place that abounds in chilli. Malapatan is also known for the 'inaul' Maguindanaon handwoven fabric under the 'Fabli Guni' brand which forms part of the Moro exquisite regalia, as well as bags, purses, shawls and other fashion accessories.

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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jul 14, 2019
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