PALOMPON, LEYTE – Last year, officials here had to shelve holding the 3rd Lawig Festival on December 2, because the town was still reeling from Yolanda. But this year, despite the threat of “Ruby” last December 2, there was no stopping the festival as contingents tried to outdo each other in interpreting their festival of thanks to their patron saint, “Sr. San Iko” or St. Francis Xavier.
This year’s festival was made more significant and richer as contingents injected how their town and its people recovered despite being struck by Yolanda. In previous years, it was more of a festival to celebrate the town’s bounties. This year, adding flavor to it was the contingents’ show of gratitude to how the world embraced their town and help it out the rut.
Palompon takes pride in being one of the coastal towns that easily bounced back from Yolanda’s wrath. Silently, its officials led by Mayor Ramon Oñate and Vice Mayor Georgina L. Arevalo reached friends to help the town. Humanitarian agencies were in the town in no time and were helping residents rebuild their homes and their lives, and also the public infrastructure.
Mayor Oñate, on the other hand, said that the Palomponganons innate nature of being cooperative also helped in the town’s fast recovery. By the end of 2013, they were already ready to welcome a luxury cruise ship and hundreds of visitors, as they tried to restore its tourism industry that had began to blossom the year before.
They were not disappointed. This year, the town was cited as “Most Tourism Friendly LGU” in the whole country.
PIT takes the crown from Taberna NHS
This year’s festival showdown winner for the Major Caterory consisting of high schools, colleges and institutions, was the Palompon Institute of Technology (PIT). They wrested the crown from the Taberna National High School which held it for two years straight.
PIT’s keen interpretation of how thankful the town was to the humanitarian agencies, to include a “helicopter”, apparently caught the judges’ approval.
There were no “higantes” this year to portray the Spanish conquistadores and missionaries of old who “developed” the town. Instead, the higantes were supplanted with paraphernalia to portray global compassion and response.
Alfredo Parilla NHS got the second spot while the Taberna NHS was named third.
The contingents romped away with cash prizes of P 100,000, P 75,000 and P 50,000, respectively.
Festival Queen 2014
Meanwhile, hailed as 2014 Festival Queen was Ms Ella Butad of the DepEd North District. First runner up was PIT’s Ms Maria Diana C. Tabon and second runner up was Marlanne G. Hernandez of the Association of Barangay Chairmen (ABC).
The Festival Queen contest is something that Palomponganons look forward to. This year, despite the heat of the midday sun, the festival queens showed royal grace while dancing to the beat of the Lawig Festival beat, to pay homage to Sr. San Iko.
Present to give the various winners their prizes and trophies were Leyte Governor Dominic Petilla, Vice Governor Carlo P. Loreto, Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, 4th Leyte provincial board member Mesias “Indoy” Arevalo and Palompon Vice-Mayor Georgina Arevalo.
In their various speeches, the dignitaries lauded the Palomponganons for their quick recovery, hoping that such cooperation from the constituents is continued.
A brief background
Sr. San Iko, as Mayor Oñate once quipped, seems to like the Lawig Festival. The weather would always be at its finest, despite typhoon warnings.
In 2012, it was held at the time when Typhoon Pablo was coming to the country.
In a previous interview with Dr. John Kent Juanero, then chairman of the 1st festival committee, he said they decided to call the festival “Lawig” which means to “sail on” in English.
Palompon is a coastal town and its history will forever be tied to the seas and of sailing on. In fact, it is a town known to have many world-class sailors, being home to PIT.
St. Francis Xavier himself is a known sailor, hopping from one island to another in the East during his youth, spreading the faith and converting natives to Christianity.