The Higantes Festival is a local festival held annually In Angono

The Higantes Festival is a local festival held annually In Angono, Philippines. It is celebrated every 4th week of November in honor of the Feast of Pope St. Clement I. Higantes Festival is celebrated every 22 and 23 November in the city of Angono, Province of Rizal. The festival features a parade of hundreds of higantes, papier-mâché giants. Higantes are puppets rendered as man or woman in various costumes; their face gives a commanding look, their hands on the waist. The festival’s origin can be traced back to the period of Spanish colonial rule when, as Angono was a ruled hacienda, celebrations were prohibited, except for one festival per year. The Angonos (people of Angono) used the festival as an opportunity to mock hacienda owners by making papier-mâché caricatures—an art they learned from Spanish friars.

The Higantes Festival is said to have originated during the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines at the time when Angono town was administered as a hacienda where only one festival was only allowed to be held annually. The local residents of Angono came up of with a festival, which later became known as the Higantes Festival, which centers around the mocking of hacienda owners through making papier-mâché caricatures. The craft was learned by the Angono residents from Spanish friars. Another tradition observed during the festival is The Fluvial Procession of Saint Clement, where participants, Called “Parehadoras” from each baranggay wear colorful dresses and celebrates as they proceed with the procession in the streets of the town going to the lakeside where they take the Holy Images of Saint Isidore, Saint Clement and the Virgin Mary into a Float and the Fluvial Procession takes place where they pray the Rosario Cantada. The float, Locally known as “Bangka ni San Clemente” will take port at the end of the Angono River. From there, the participants will do the “Prusisyon ng Pag-ahon” where everyone sprinkles water at each other.They believe that this practice is a gesture of wishing for blessing for others and the water is believed to symbolize Saint Clement, the patron saint of Angono, Mariners and Fishermen. In the present time, the Angonos build higantes to represent each barangay (smallest administrative division in the Philippines; village) for the festival’s parade. Accordingly a higante with a duck-shaped heard, for example, represents a barangay famous for fried duck and balut (boiled duck embryo eaten from its shell). The number of higantes has increased to hundreds over time, with more and more artists making higantes in various sizes and shapes. Seminars or workshops on higante-making thru government support have also contributed to keeping the festival alive.

Going back to the “higantes”, the head of the giants is shaped from a mold made of clay, then dried under the scourging heat of the sun. As modern technology set in, the mold made of clay is now made of plaster of Paris and resin. The mold is then glued with newspapers, split in the middle, sun-dried and later on put together by pasting a brown paper to cover the split. Afterwards, it will be sun-dried again and hand painted. The body of the “higantes” is made of bamboo or yantok (rattan). Thin iron bar can also be used to shape the body of the giants. To complete the masterpiece, the “higantes” will be glam-up with colorful costumes and accessories to finish the look. A festival that shows the fun-spirited Filipinos, the ability to make the best of any bad situation given. Indeed, Higantes Festival is a celebration of BIG stories. The Municipality of Angono likewise considers the ‘higante’ as the symbol of the people’s aspiration to be great in their respective field and contribute to the development and pride of this town which is home to two National Artists namely ‘Botong’ Francisco (Painting) and Maestro Lucio San Pedro (Music).

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