Sibonga celebrates bounty, blessings in annual festival

The municipality of Sibonga stages the Bonga Festival every Aug. 9 as one of the major highlights of the town’s fiesta celebration in honor of their patron saints, Our Lady of Pilar and Santa Filomena.

The Sibonga residents celebrated the bounty of the land through a spectacular performance by secondary school students in vibrant costumes showing intricate and creative dance steps with chants that highlight their colorful past while winding along the streets of the town in time with the thunderous rhythm of drums and other instruments.

Agriculture is the main source of income among Sibonganons. In fact, the town is one of the major suppliers of different fruits in the province of Cebu. Mango, banana and grapes are some of its major products.

In this year’s Bonga Festival, the local government unit decided to only have a presentation instead of the usual competition. The parade finale was staged at the Sibonga Central School Ground with five contingents participating in the ritual showdown.

Governor Hilario P. Davide III, together with his wife Jobel, 1st district Representative Sam-Sam Gullas and Provincial Board Member Julian Daan, graced the event.

“We’re very thankful to our patron saint Santa Filomina and to our Almighy God for the blessings that we received, despite the earthquake last year. The Cebu Provincial Government is always here to support you,” said Governor Davide.

Sibonga is proud of its achievement in preserving its culture and traditions. The town is located at the southern part of Cebu, about 50.7 kilometers away from the Queen City of the South.

’Bonga’ is a Cebuano word which means “fruit” in English, and is also the local name of betel nut tree or Areca nut. In the legend, betel fruits were traded in the rural community. When the Spaniards came and asked the natives what the name of the place was, the natives who thought they were asked for the name of the item they were selling, answered ‘bonga’. As the foreigners didn’t understand the native language, they thought that the natives’ answer was the name of the place. Later on the place came to be known as Sibonga.