My Talakudong…your Talakudong…our Talakudong (History of Talakudong Festival of Tacurong and its Transformation into a Multi-Awardee Celebration of Life)

My Talakudong…your Talakudong…our Talakudong

(History of  Talakudong Festival of Tacurong

and its Transformation into a Multi-awardee Celebration of Life)

By Felizardo “Ding” Lazado

The festival has a shade of art and voice of history- elements that echo the culture of Tacurongnons. To give substance to the concept of the festival, historic information were culled from different sources, such as: interviews of the late Mr. Fructuso Buenacosa (Tiyo Putoy), historian and “walking encyclopedia” of Tacurong City, and Mrs. Josefina Lechonsito, History professor of Notre Dame of Tacurong College; Master’s Thesis of Mr. Morito Parcon, History and Political Science professor of the Notre Dame of Tacurong College; and, Cotabato Guidebook of Mr. Simeon Millan of Cotabato City.

From the above-mentioned sources, stories gave form to the “story line”, enthusiastic members committees provided a strong foundation to the “organizational structure”, the painstakingly gathered materials by dint of resourcefulness became the “requisites” that comprised the substance, youthful creativity and design provided color and allure to the format and systems, and most of all, the verve of cohesive leadership, highlighted the merriment that surrounded the First Talakudong Festival, a fitting commemoration of the 25th Foundation Anniversary and Silver Jubilee Year of the city in August 3, 1976.

As early as 8:00 in the morning of that day, the town’s thoroughfares were already swarmed with people- both paraders and promenaders. In anticipation of the throng of people who would swell the streets, paraders were made to assemble only in front or along the street near their schools or origin. Only the barangay officials, municipal/provincial/national agencies in Tacurong, civic and religious organizations participants were allowed to assemble at the municipal plaza. When siren sounded at 8:30 AM, the plaza paraders led by the local police force moved towards Lapu-lapu Street. Reaching Lapu-apu, the Notre Dame contingents (College, High School, and Elementary) had their hundred boys let off the “tultugan” (bamboo drums) that rent the air – producing ear-splitting sound.

Donned in Visayan-Ilonggo outfits, women and girls wore “patadiong” and “kimona”. Everybody had either turban, “kalo”and “sadok” on their head, some girls on their hips were “nigo” or “kalalaw” laden with fruits and vegetables. They followed the end portion of plaza paraders. The parade started to swell up as it approached the “round ball” where the Muslim groups were crowding… hard-beating of gongs and “kulintang” prevailed. The QCSP contingents in glittering “malong” and “banggala” while the men in “kopia”, “salakot”, and “tubaw”, appeared more colorful with the dancing dragon.

The air seemed to have lost its lane as the beating of gongs and kulintang and the hard striking of tultugan were fused into unrecognizable communion or commotion of sound and music. The parade continued, inching toward along Alunan Highway and gained headway in front of the Tacurong Municipal High School and Tacurong Pilot Elementary School areas. Another thousand paraders were awaiting to find a space in the parade to occupy. Chanting children with flaglets inscribed with MABUHAY TACURONG SILVER JUBILEE YEAR were in Visayan-Ilonggo costume. From a distance, at the north, could be seen another crowd of people waiting. It was the all-Ilocano Magsaysay Memorial College contingent. All the women in ‘baro at saya” while men wore “kalogong”.

As the parade turned left passing Rizal Avenue, Agustin Carvajal led the dozen Ilocano “tangguyob” (Ilonggo: budyong) or shell trumpet blowers sending to the air a nostalgic loud cooing sound. The “tangguyob” blowing that infiltrated the cacophony of “kulitang”, gong and “tultugan” sounds, brought to the thousand ears a new kind of noise, though musical , the “TANGKULGONGTUL” – the festival’s own sound.

Moving along Bonifacio to Alunan, back to Lapu-lapu, then, to the National Highway, the parade moved past the “round ball” junction, as it proceeded to Burgos Street junction. The parade had to divert from its planned route so as not to make its head “overtake” its “tail”. A standstill of less than half an hour was made. The sun was getting high and the heat was scorching. The humid air under the searing sun was unpleasant…what of the sweat plus the evaporizing smell of pomade pasted on young boys’ heads.

All hassles, however, slipped off, as kaleidoscopic reflection of multi-colored, multi-sized and multi-fabric head coverings reigned supreme outsmarting the weariness of everybody. The parade ended at the Resort Area which was already overflowing with people where the “ritual” to commemorate the “recognition” of Tacurong as a separate town by her “mother town” was immediately held.

Mayor Jose Q. Barroquillo, Jr., handed to Mayor Samad Mangelen of Buluan a brand-new Vargas plow. In turn, Mayor Samad Mangelen, placed the gold-colored “kopia” on the head of Mayor Barroquillo, and the following thunderous clapping of the audience reddened the “ritual of friendship, understanding, and cooperation”, as well as, the recognition of Tacurong as a separate town. The Notre Damians, Jorge Plasabas and Juliet Garces took center stage and danced the “binanog”. Magsaysasay Memorial Collegian dancers skillfully performed the “sayaw sa bangko”, and the colorful and exotic “singkil” , by the students of the QCSP students. Teachers from the Tacurong Pilot Elementary School followed, with Mrs.Teresita Carnaje and Mrs. Emma Bautista rendering the musical numbers from doxology, “Lupang Hinirang”.  That was Talakudong Festival in August 3, 1976….

For the initial conceptualization and planning that led to the development of the festival, about thirty (30) representatives from private and public schools, civic and religious organizations, municipal and national agencies were invited in September 10, 1975. I was then connected with the Department of Public Information during the time. As recalled, Mayor Jose Barroquillo explained the rationale of the Silver Jubilee celebration. Soonest as he was finished, Engr. Miguel T. Jacalan stood up and said, “I highly recommend (not nominate), that Mr. Ding Lazado of DPI be the one to conceptualize the plan”. Mr. Pedro Samson of Tacurong Pilot Elementary School supported the recommendation of Engr. Jacalan.

Couldn’t it be called a lightning strike?… but it happened that way, catching me by surprise! I didn’t know what happened next, but I found myself doing the task for three months. On the very first working day of New Year 1976, the same people were gathered at the Resort Area where we detailed the concept of the Talakudong Festival that would finally, highlight the town’s 25th Foundation Anniversary. The rest of the years that followed saw the full celebration that metamorphosed to include street dancing.

Still looking back, for 18 years, from 1976 to 1994, the Talakudong Festival was largely shown in street parade with intermittent Agro-Industrial Fair. The first search for “Mutya ng Tacurong” took place in 1978. But my passion to put Tacurong on the map of tourism, cultural enhancement and festivals of the Philippines pushed me to get things done as aspired. Thus in 1995, with full support of the Municipal Council and blessing of then, Mayor Geronimo Arzagon, when the Talakudong Festival was put back to the main thoroughfares, it has been enhanced with new format and style-  street dancing and “showdown” or competition among participating contingents, at the town plaza. As the festival refers to head covering or hat, added feature that enhanced the activities was the Talakudong-making Contest with the following categories: Most Attractive, Most Elegant, Most Original, Most Indigenous, Most Artistic, the Biggest, The Smallest. The Board of Judges picked out only three: The Most Elegant, won by Enrique Saulog; The Biggest, won by Gerardo Magno; The Smallest, won by Salvacion Cerbas.

In 1998, the “Talakudong Tribe”, upon invitation, joined the Kadayawan Festival of Davao and brought home the Third Prize in “Indak-indak sa Dalan”. For the subsequent Kadayawan Festival, the tribe won Second Place, and finally, brought home the grand trophy for the same category during the later year of the Davao’s festival.

This year, 2015, “My Talakudong, Your Talakudong, Our Talakudong” captured the heart of the Ilonggos when it showed its splendor in Iloilo during the Dinagyang Festival. This new face of Talakudong Festival would be without beauty, had it not been for the full support of the mayors of the  City of Tacurong – from the time of Roncal Montilla, Nono Arzagon, Lino Montilla and currently, Lina Montilla. Doubtlessly, all of them are one in bringing the name and fame of Talakudong Festival into greater heights of national recognition.

Lest we forget, responsible also for the consistent success of the festival, are the supportive hands of Hon. Rodrigo Jamorabon, the Talakudong Fest Committee Chairman; Hon. Cajandig, Hon. Fely Segura, Eduardo Nicolo, Allan Freno, Emelie Jamorabon and dozens more of local officials.

For the early choreography, kudos goes to Petok de la Peῆa, Pediong Fernandez, Gerry Magno, Juarien Javier, Richard Paclibar, G. Ochinang, Joseph Pilotos, Anthony Elvas, and many more. Original musicians were Joseph Glenn Lazado, Ryan Mosqueda, Val Gunay, and Rona Nava. Non-alumni of Notre Dame but also extended helping hands were, Enrique Saulog and Bong Gallego.

On September 18, 2003, on the Third Anniversary of Tacurong as a city, a Certificate of Recognition signed by then, Mayor Lino O. Montilla was presented to me, as the FATHER/FOUNDER OF THE TALAKUDONG FESTIVAL.