Haw-as Festival: Sharing and Enjoying a Grand Feast in Dumangas

Text and photos by: Bombette G. Marin

Dumangas, Iloilo has one of the largest concentrations of production fishpond areas in the province.

Popularly cultured in brackish-water fishponds is bangus/bangrus or milkfish.

Dumangas is both a milkfish producing and consuming town, which is why it is known as the Bangus capital of the province. It is not surprising that Dumangas celebrates its amazing bangus industry and at the same time also showcase the abundance of other fresh seafood through Haw-as Festival.

Haw-as Festival, an off-shoot of Pahaw-as Festival launched in 2002, was conceptualized in 2008 during the first term of Mayor Ronaldo Golez. A municipal declaration designated every October 25-31 as Municipal Culture and History Week to give importance to Dumangas’ culture, including the Haw-as Festival and honoring local hero Col. Quintin Salas.

Nine district Gubans (which are made up of 4-6 barangays per each guban) will be competing in this year’s festival highlight on October 31 at 2 p.m.

Most of the performances are choreographed featuring episodes of abundant fishpond harvest as dancers, in their fishpond harvest traditional costumes, re-enact the harvest activities of these workers who are the backbone of the town’s economy.

Other performers wear bangus costumes embellished with customary bright silvery sequences.

The scenes feature families or neighbors gathering bangus using seine net. Haw-as is observed annually as an expression of gratitude to God for nature’s bounty. Guaranteed of a good harvest, dancers would gather together to pray. Lastly, scenes of a celebration are shown featuring dancing and singing.

The Haw-as Festival experience will not be complete without a plethora of specialty foods, live entertainment and lots more.

Come celebrate Dumangas’ culture in the week-long Haw-as Festival on October 26-31, 2019.  The Opening Day (Saturday) is set for a motorcade at 9 a.m., AVAC Exhibit, Haw-as Festival Grand Opening at 2 p.m., Street Dancing Competition at 3 p.m., Sugbahanay sa Plaza at 6:30 p.m., Awarding Ceremony of Street Dancing Competition at 8 p.m. and Nightly Band and Food Festival at 7:00 p.m.;

October 27 (Sunday) opens with a Farmers and Fisherfolks Forum and Opening Exhibit of OTOP with Bangus Extravaganza – Cooking Contest at 8 a.m., WAFACON (Writers, Artists, Filmmakers, Artisans Convention at 1 p.m., 4th Sikpanay-actual Haw-as sa Punong at 3 p.m. and Nightly Band and Food Festival at 7 p.m.

October 28 (Monday) Liberation of Dumangas – 119th Cry for Freedom and Liberty at 9 a.m., Col. Quintin Salas Composo and Binalaybay Contests at 10 a.m., Golez-Biron Autoshow at 7 p.m., Haw-as Festival Queen Pre Pageant Night at 6 p.m. and Nightly Live Band and Food Festival at 7 p.m.; October 29 (Tuesday) Jobs Fair at 9 a.m., Concert at 7 p.m., Nightly Live Band and Food Festival at 7 p.m.;

October 30 (Wednesday) features Laro Ng Lahi and Educator’s Day in the morning and Haw-as Festival Queen Pageant Night at 7 p.m. alongside Live Band and Food Festival; October 31 (Thursday) Run for Col. Quintin Salas Marathon at 5 a.m., Commemoration Program for the 149th Birth Anniversary of Col. Quintin Salas at 8 a.m., Haw-as Festival Guban Competition at 2 p.m., Awarding of Prizes and Closing Program with Live Band and Food Festival at 7 p.m.

The bangus or milkfish has a bright silvery sheen, small toothless mouth that can grow to over a meter long. The ones found in markets are generally small. It is an important aquaculture and commercial fish species vital in Dumangas’ economy as it provides food security and livelihood to many fisherfolks in the area.

Bring yourself to one of the most interesting celebrations in the Fourth Congressional District, Haw-as Festival, and make it one memorable experience.

Dumangas is a 1st class municipality of the province situated in the northeastern side, 30 kilometers or an hour land trip from Iloilo city. It has a total land area of 11,677 hectares politically subdivided into 45 barangays. The town is bounded in the north by Barotac Nuevo, in the south and east by Guimaras Strait; and in the west by Pototan and Zarraga.

To get to Dumangas, one can travel taking the Monfort Coastal Boulevard route via an air-conditioned van at Tikod Terminal in Barangay Baldoza, La Paz, Iloilo City or please contact, Municipal Tourism Officer Leonardo Quiatchon at telephone number (33) 3612400 or fax number (33) 3612884.