By Gideon C. Corgue
The Pasalamat Festival is one of the most colorful and grandest celebrations in Pagadian City, dubbed as the “Little Hongkong of the South.”
The event is the annual cultural and religious festival held on the third Sunday of January, in honor of its patron Saint Santo Niño. It is fundamentally a dance ritual which remembers the Filipino people’s recognition of Christianity, showcasing dances and rituals of the people of Pagadian thanking God Almighty for all the blessings they received, giving them hope in spite of life’s struggles and complexities.
It features vibrant display of bright colored costumes and fluid movements of dancers moving to the rhythm of drums and gongs, as they woo the judges with their excellent performances. There were 15 dance troupes representing various public secondary schools in the city.
The participants danced their way from the wharf area to Plaza Luz, where the final showdown for the ritual dance competition was held. Thousands of spectators, locals and tourists went out the streets to witness the event.
Thanksgiving to Sto. Nino
The festival started way back in 1969 and was then called “Zambulawan,” then was changed later to “Pangadyian” and lately adopting “Pasalamat,” which means thanksgiving.
“Pasalamat festival” is a new term coined by the Fiesta Executive Council and the city government officials replacing “Pangadyian Festival.”
Two most important historical accounts were cited, namely the dreadful Malaria outbreak which claimed hundreds of lives of the residents, and the crossing over of early settlers on Illana Bay wherein they had experienced strong winds and huge waves every time they would attempt to cross the sea.
Strong faith, devotion
Because of their strong faith and devotion to Sr. Santo Niño, the spread of malaria was completely controlled and the infected malaria patients were miraculously healed. Also, the early settlers no longer experienced fear in crossing the sea because the raging storm and waves calmed down.
Church officials said there is a need for the faithful Catholics to know the evolution of “Pasalamat Festival” for them to fully understand that there was already a festival in Pagadian, which the faithful failed to appreciate and recognize in the past decades.
The church leadership did their best to preserve and promote “Pasalamat” dancing as a living example of a real and unique Cebuano culture.
Full support of LGU, schools
Mayor Romeo Pulmones was grateful to the Fiesta Executive Council for it provided the public, especially the students sufficient knowledge on what the festival is all about.
He expressed his profound thanks to the participating schools for their full support and cooperation that greatly contributed to the success of the Pasalamat Festival .
Among the participating schools were Co Tek Chun National High School, Lala National High School, Macasing National High School, Manga National High School, Napolan National High School, Norberta Guillar National High School, Pagadian City National High School, Pagadian City Comprehensive High School, Pagadian City Science High School, Sta. Lucia National High School, Tawagan Sur National High School, Tulawas Integrated School, Zamboanga del Sur School of Arts and Trade, Zamboanga del Sur National High School, and Zamboanga del Sur National High School. (ALT/GCC/PIA-Zamboanga del Sur)