ARAQUIO FESTIVAL IN PEÑARANDA
Arakyo Performers in Sto.Tomas Penaranda Nueva Ecija
The Araquio festival is a celebration traditionally held every May in Nueva Ecija. The festival dates back to the Spanish colonial period and is celebrated with a theatrical/religious presentation similar to Spanish zaruelas, dramatizing the spread of Christianity in the country and the war between Christians and Muslims.
The name Araquio is said to have come from Heraclio, the name of a bishop during the time of Constantine the Great. The first Araquio presentation took place in the town of Penaranda, Nueva Ecija over 120 years ago. Before modern musical instruments were available, the bands used instruments made from indigenous materials like bamboo. According to Francisco Vergara Padilla, director of the Araquio group in the barangay of Sto. Tomas in Penaranda, during his grandfather’s time they used basins and utensils as substitutes.
Araquio is usually presented in May, during the feast of the Cross. The date of the feast varies from one town to another. This festival starts with a mass and ends with the elaborate Flores de mayo celebration. Each performing group is given a day or two to perform in the town plaza, making it a week long presentation. Local wealthy families usually make it their spiritual duty to sponsor the festival, sometimes giving no less than fifty thousand pesos.
A weeklong festival recreating the expansion of Christianity and the war between Christians and Muslims, Araquio dates back from the Spanish colonial period. The festival features vivacious beats of brass bands, spirited choreography and moving voices embraced with a daunting literary piece. Written in ancient Tagalog, the script tells about the feud of the Muslims and Christians that started over territories. It shows how Christians used the power of the cross symbolizing their faith in defeating the Muslims, who later retaliated by way of stealing the cross from them. Many battles preceded the retrieval of the cross, which in the end led to the Christening of the Muslims.
PENARANDA NUEVA ECIJA : The older devotees among the faithful in this Nueva Ecija town remember fondly the almost-forgotten-that is by the young people- Araquio-until recent celebrations of the Budang Fesival put the cherished tradition back in the limelight.
The Budang Festival, which is celebrated from May 22-27, celebrates Penarandas 167th founding anniversary. The Araquio, which is a revival of an old Catholic tradition, has become part of the festival from the time Ferdinand Abesamis became town mayor in 2013.
BUDANG is shortened Tagalog for UBOD NANG, which means EXTREME as in budang ganda for ubod nang ganda or extremely beautiful. In the weeklong festival, Abesamis leads the residents in showcasing the fruits of their labor and the products the town is known for – among them the poultry and livestock as well as products derived from them.
The Araquio reenacts Saint Helenas quest for the cross on which Jesus Christ was nailed. It is not simply a procession in the way of the more popularly known Santacruzan. The Araquio tells the story of the quest in poetic dialogue among the actors garbed in colorful costumes. The Araquio dates back to the Spanish colonial period and is celebrated with a theatrical/religious presentation similar to the Spanish zaruelas, dramatizing the spread of Christianity in the country and the war between Christians and Muslims.
The name Araquio is said to have come from HERACLIO, the name of a bishop during the time of Constantine the Great. The first Araquio presentation took place in the town of Penaranda over 120 years ago. Before modern musical instruments were available, the bands used instruments made from indigenous materials such as bamboo. According to Francisco Vergara Padilla, director of the Araquio group in Barangay Santo Tomas, during his grandfather’s time they used basins and utensils as substitutes for musical instruments they didnt have.
Devotee Mary Divina Gracia, 78, said Abesamis revived the long-forgotten cultural presentation when he assumed office and the Department of Tourism (DoT) acknowledges that it as among Nueva Ecijas major tourist attractions in summer. The National Commission on Culture and the Arts also lauded the revival of the Araquio.
Penaranda town was founded in 1801 and is one of the oldest towns in Central Luzon.
Aside from their livestock and poultry industry, Penaranda is also famous for a delicacy. Folk also take pride in their handicrafts and pottery.
Visitors never leave Penaranda without bringing home espasol, the sticky sweet made of flour from glutinuous rice, grated young coconut, sugar, butter and condensed milk.
A highlight of the festival is Budang Habang Espasol, a kilometer-long version of the delicacy that residents prepare. It stretches from Barangay San Josef to Barangay Santo Tomas. Aside from this, the community also took part in preparing the largest rice cake – 6.5 meters or 22 feet – or putonghua puti.
Penaranda folk also take pride in their handicrafts made of rattan and pottery. The towns pottery is distributed nationwide and in other Asian countries.
During the festival, a huge rocking chair made of rattan was a major attraction as rattan is abundant in the towns forest.
The other activities that highlighted the opening of the Budang Festival – with the theme PENARANDA, Ubod ng Ganda. Smart na, Green Pa. – were an inter-barangay (village) basketball tournament, a medical mission organized by Penaranda USA, the 5th river cross race, Siakol live bands, palarong pambata, harana, 4th karera ng balsa, Mapag-kalingang Ina ng DepEd, karera ng kinaban, exhibition of 15 brass bands, a seranata and street dancing. The Budang Galing Awards were also held as well as a grand parade and Mutya ng Penaranda pageant, the winners of which were named on Sunday and was Reyna Elena and major sagala at the Flores De Mayo.
PLACE TO VISIT
• The SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISSI Church Located Poblacion Ii Peñaranda Nueva Ecija.
• The PEÑARANDA IRRIGATION SYSTEM at Brgy. San Josef.
PEÑARANDA RIVER IRRIGATION SYSTEM 1925-1930 Peñaranda, Bayan Kong Sinta, ang bayang hinubog ng mayamang kasaysayan at kultura. Sa patuloy na pagdaloy ng panahon, maraming matatamis na karanasan at mabubuting alalaala ang nabuo sa lugar na ito., na kailanman ay hindi malilimutan ng bawat isa na naging bahagi nito.