Argao town in Southern Cebu beamed the spotlight on its local talents; culture and heritage during its 407th fiesta celebration in honor of patron saint St. Michael the Archangel.
At the onset of the traditional 9-day novena leading to the fiesta day, the local government of Argao prepared daily and nightly activities for locals and tourists alike.
One of the highlight activities was the search for Dalagang Argaoanon 2015.
Unlike typical beauty pageants, Dalagang Argaoanon aims to further promote Argao’s old-age industry of making hand-woven cloths.
Since the 1900’s, hablon-weaving served as the main livelihood of many Argaoanon women.
“Daghan ang nakaskuyla ani. Mao ni naghatag ug garbo ug panginabuhian sa mga katigulangan (This industry has sent many children to school. This gave pride and income to our elders),” shared Argao Mayor Edsel Galeos.
But due to dwindling number of capable weavers as time passed, the industry slowed down, leaving only a few women to do the craft.
Last year, the local government of Argao in coordination with the Cebu Provincial Government, Department of Trade and Industry and Cebu Technological University Argao Campus re-introduced hablon to the public through the same pageant.
“We are very grateful to all agencies that readily helped in the revival of our heritage, especially to Governor (Hilario) Davide and Vice Governor (Agnes) Magpale for giving us their full support,” expressed Argao Vice Mayor Stanley Caminero.
Dalagang Argaoanon 2015 candidates wore long gowns, festival and casual attires made of hablon designed by local up-and-coming designers.
Hablon weavers that produced the cloth used for candidate’s gowns were recognized during the pageant.
Nelia Narca, a 61-year old hablon weaver in Barangay Tulic, expressed her gratitude to the government for reviving the town’s hablon industry.
Weaving hablon for 11 years, she said this industry has been her main source of income. But when it died down, she opted to collect and sell firewood instead.
To help in the revival of the industry, Narca has been teaching her daughters to weave hablon. She also added that she will teach her grandchildren as well as soon as they finish their studies.
For sports enthusiasts, Argao held Hunat Sugbo Triathlon and basketball tournament between celebrity basketball players and selected local players.
“This is the second year for Hunat Sugbo Triathlon in town. Organizers chose to hold the event again because they were satisfied with the outcome of last year’s Hunat Sugbo. Participants also doubled this year,” shared municipal administrator Vip Semilla.
For the young, a colorful fun run dubbed as Color Run Argao was organized by Southern Lights Creative Events (SLCE), a group composed of all Argaoanon individuals.
Participants, called Color Runners, came not just from Argao but also from Cebu City and other surrounding towns.
A two-day agro-trade fair was also organized for the various farmers’ and people’s organizations in Argao.
Around 12 organizations brought their produce in town for the trade fair. Semilla said all products were sold out.