LEGAZPI CITY — City Mayor Noel Rosal formally opened today, Friday, the silver year anniversary of the Ibalong Festival, a yearly non-religious fiesta showcasing the city as a major tourist destination.
Rosal launched the festivities at the Ibalong Heroes Monument on Lapu-Lapu St., a major thoroughfare in this city tagged as a “city of fun and adventure” by the Department of Tourism.
Based on the “Ibalong epic” written by the late Bicolano scholar Merito Espinas, the festival depicts Bicol’s ancient period that tells of mythical superheroes, villains, monster and wild animals.
The festivities started with a Eucharistic celebration at St. Raphael Church.
It was followed by simple rites and the launch of the “Third Ibalong Weekend Market” at the “Boulevard,”an eight-kilometer seaside road near the city harbor that is a favorite venue for biking, jogging or walking.
In the afternoon, the “First Bicol Construction Expo” opened its exhibit to visitors.
During today’s opening, the “Beach Volleyball Republic Royals” kicked off the various national and international sports events slated for the month-long festival.
On Sunday, the Mayon Triathlon event will open, while the volleyball exhibition match between the Ateneo University’s Blue team and De La Salle University’s Green team will start on Monday.
There will also be national competitions in such events as dragon boat race, open autocross (alongside a car show), and mountain bike race.
A badminton tournament and a pigeon race will lend color to the festivities while Rain or Shine and Global Port will carry the banner of the Philippine Basketball Association during the festival.
On August 16-17, “Ibalong the Musical” will be presented at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation.
As the 25th edition of Ibalong Festival relives the tale of Bicol’s ancient heroes—-Baltog, Handyong and Bantong, their misadventures and tribulations will be depicted in a colorful street presentation on August 29.
On that date, groups from various schools in the city will be decked in indigenous gear and riotous color of fun and adventure as they present scenes from the Ibalong epic.
City Tourism Officer Antonio Reyes has said that since the festival is based on Bicol’s indigenous legend, it is probably the only such celebration of an epic in the country.
Legazpi City posted a 45 percent increase in tourist arrivals in 2015 compared to the previous year, up to 967,396 in 2015 from 666,210 in 2014.
Many of the city’s visitors came to see not just the majestic Mayon Volcano with the nearly perfect-shaped cone but also Legazpi City’s major tourist attractions, among them Lignon Hill, Embarcadero de Legazpi and the Boulevard near the city port. Connie Destura/PNA/northboundasia.com