February 12, 2006

Paoay girds for 2006 Guling-guling festival

Paoay, Ilocos Norte—Local residents of this town have been known to observe their own traditional way of merrymaking. And this is what in store for the upcoming Guling-guling Festival set to start on February 28.

The Guling-guling Festival customarily ushers in the Lenten Season since it regularly starts on Ash Wednesday.

Known be a lively affair of the Roman Catholic faithful in this town, the term “Guling” is an Ilocano word which means to mark, smear or make a sign. It is a part of the belief that an imprinted sign of the cross on a person’s forehead using wet white flour during the old days signify purity. With this special mark, usually done by the village chieftain, a person was believed to have been cleansed of all his past sins.

Spanish friars introduced the Guling-guling during the 16th century and have been inherited and continued by Paoay townsfolk up to this day.

Among the highlights of the event include street dancing, dudol-making—dudol is a cake made from rice—and basi-drinking while showcasing their famous abel (woven) products by using it as their clothing.

Rod Sadian, a Paoay resident, related that their fiesta starts right at their respective homes.

He said that as soon as they wake up on the day of festivities, Paoayeños don their traditional clothing. Women dress up in their inabel (hand-woven) kimona (native blouse) and pandiling (native skirt), with matching heirloom, jewelry and other native accessories.

For the men, Sadian said they wear kamisa de chino and abel trousers. Husbands and wives usually have matching outfits, he added.

Traditionally, local residents dance their way to the place where dudol is made as it is here where the so-called anawang (a makeshift oven made from dried sugarcane pulp) is located. The townspeople are then met by the mayor who imprints the sign of the cross on their forehead.

According to them, the absence of guling may bring bad luck.

Following the ritual, the crowd—including visitors—then partakes of the dudol and basi. Afterwards, they would march towards the St. Augustine Church before heading to the town plaza where the merrymaking reaches its peak.

Anybody can dance with whomever they please.

Paoay was founded in 1593 but it was only formally established in 1701 by Don Martin Guiang by virtue of a Royal Decree.

Leilanie G. Adriano

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