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Maskota Festival of Tuguegarao City
Source: Manila Bulletin
Author: Vic Albornoz-Lactaoen
Date: 2007-08-17
Of late, Tuguegarao City, located on the northeastern coast of Luzon, is getting to be known as a cultural and economic hub.

It is also known as the city that tobacco, garlic and rice built, the home of an extensive collection of fossils, iron age pottery, china from the Ming and Song dynasties, as well as liturgical collections said to be miraculous.

It was for the observance of the city’s patronal fiesta, dubbed as Pav-vurulun, and the revival of Maskota, a popular wedding dance, that a move to revive them was called for.

The Maskota, in its original style, is one Ybanag cultural heritage that should not be allowed to fade away, stressed Director Blesida Diwa of the Department of Tourism (DoT) regional office in Tuguegarao. Efforts are thus pooled together by the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao, city government, the DoT regional office, and the Cagayan North Convention and Visitors Bureau to recreate this time-honored cultural tradition.


Up to the late 1920’s, the town fiesta of Tuguegarao used to feature the Maskota na Gigantes (Mascota of the Giants), a brainchild of the late Calixto Allayban and the people of Cataggaman and Annafunan, narrated Diwa.

The giants were paraded around town to attract crowds to the town plaza, now an unfenced area fronting the Saint Peter and Paul Metropolitan Cathedral. The cathedral, built in 1761, is evidence of the province’s link with Spain as well as of the influence of various Spanish traditions.

The socio-cultural and political history of Cagayan traces the Maskota dance origin to a lovemaking dance. The movements are spontaneous, lively and extravagantly expressive.. When it was still very popular, it was performed by only one pair.

"On rare instances, other pairs may join the first couple, but each couple danced in their own spontaneous way," Diwa described.

The Maskota dance is not taught but is learned as early as puberty age, each individual developing his or her own style. The Maskota of old was danced to the music of the "verso" accompanied by a musical instrument called "sincosinco."

The male dancer may choose to portray the stance of an aggressive suitor, clicking and clapping his fingers noisily, while the woman plays the role of a hard-to-get beauty emoting feminine coyness. The acting prowess of the couple solicits raucous laughter and jesting from the audience of relatives and friends, making the event a gay and boisterous affair.

Maskota is a wedding dance also popular in the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela. The name "Maskota" was derived from the cut or style of the skirt with large flower prints worn by the lady when she dances the Maskota. It is performed by newlymarried couples or by other pairs attending a wedding party.

Recently, visitors got a glimpse of the city’s Old World charm in this well-preserved Maskota dance in its original style performed during the city’s fiesta.

The organizers of this year’s Maskota Dance, the Familia Maskota Cagayana aimed to highlight the Maskota cultural tradition. Some 50 couples from six parishes of Tuguegarao City participated in a mass wedding during the celebration of the city’s fiesta. A wedding reception was even held at the grounds of the cathedral where a Maskota dance served as the main highlight of the affair.

Of the city’s contemporary attraction, perhaps none is as popular, as colorful and as crazy as the Maskota. Organizers hope that this street party will soon become the largest festival in the region.


It is at the end of Bonifacio Street all the way to College Avenue in downtown Tuguegarao City, where the annual Pav-vurulun meets the Maskota festival.

The air heated up with anticipation as pedestrian crowded the sidewalks. Some clambered up the second floor of the public market where they perched with their umbrellas in full bloom. Those whose houses were on the parade route hovered lazily by their verandas, fanning themselves with abanico fans and sipping cold soda, extremely proud of their incredible luck and vantage view.

Elementary and high school students, as well as old folk - breathtaking in their bright green and orange costumes - raised their arms in simultaneous splendor to flaunt festive trinkets and accessories. After a dramatic flick of the hand to whip the beat, the contingent began to sway and sashay down the street, enthralling the crowd. Contingent after well-prepared contingent wowed one and all. It was a thrilling whirl and swirl of colors and choreography, motion and commotion.

At the Pav-vurulun festival, a lot of indigenous materials were used. Weeks before the festival, locals scoured fields and forests to gather coconut sprouts, colorful betel nuts, yellow-red-rust corn leaves, atchuetes to serve as natural colorings and canvass for the colors and the materials to be formed into moulds for the costume.

The people of Cagayan hope to share their festivals with the world by opening their doors and giving out keys to the city — all in celebration of the well-being, initiative and spirit of the Cagayanons.

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