While I carry the passion in shooting landscape as my top favorite genre in photography, I have also grown this fondness in shooting Philippine festivals for shy of a decade now. The colors, dances and the people that make up a festival, simple or grand, sate my cravings for a challenging yet fun genre in photography. Coming from a city where staging a festival, be it religious or cultural, was never on top priority by local chief executives in the past, it has become a penchant for me to travel and hunt festivals. When I learned that a new festival was brewing up right here in my own barangay, it got me so thrilled. The wheels are now turning for tourism on this side of my turf. Images started playing on my mind as to the wheres and the hows — and what’s in store for this festival. The Kolon Festival.
Celebrating Kolon Festival
The name comes so naturally. Kolon, a vernacular term for clay pot, plays a vital role in Barangay Bulua’s livelihood and identity since the beginning of time. Owing to the clay soil property of this once laid back rural barangay in the west of Cagayan de Oro, residents thrived in pottery making, agriculture and fishery as means of livelihood then. Barangay Bulua, I’m proud to say, is opulent in natural resources. Aside from clay soil, one notable landmark here is the spring, locally known as “Tuburan”, situated at lower Zone 2 area. The fresh water coming from the ground gives residents an alternative source of potable water in times of emergencies, such as when Tropical Storm Sendong hit the city, inundating villages in the vicinity of Cagayan de Oro river, destroying the city’s main water facility. People also utilise water coming from this Tuburan in tending to their laundry on a daily basis, to save on water bills. Back in the days, when water lines we’re not yet widely distributed across the city, folks either dig to make deep wells for their source of water, or the more laborious method, fetch water from the spring in several gallons and transport them in their wooden cart or kariton into their homes. Either way, that’s how pot makers used to make do with what they had in the olden days. Water from the spring and clay soil. Perfect combination. But that was back in the days. In the present time, Tuburan is still as healthy as before and fresh water still abundantly on flowing; thanks to the joint effort of the LGU of Barangay Bulua and the residents in keeping Tuburan clean and safe for use. Unfortunately though, pottery industry in Barangay Bulua is slowly declining. Expansive conversion of “lukahan” or the source of clay soil into residential area causes a decrease in production of clay and its by-products over time. From a rural barangay, Bulua has turned into a sub-urban barangay home to big commercial establishments and government regional offices. As Cagayan de Oro progressed and became a first class highly-urbanised city, residents now have various options for livelihood and employment as source of income. Former pottery owners and stores have converted their properties into banks and other commercial spaces along Bulua Highway. Thus, sad to say, pottery is gradually disappearing on the face of Barangay Bulua. An identity that this barangay has so been proud of over the decades, as manifested in that giant clay pot or “banga” that we see on the island intersection.
The LGU of Barangay Bulua under the leadership of Barangay Chairman, Al P. Legaspi Jr., addressed this disheartening reality by conceptualising a fiesta activity that would stir interest and recall of Barangay Bulua’s core identity, especially among the new generation of Buluanons. A festival that would showcase and celebrate one of the oldest known industry in Bulua, the Kolon or the clay. It is with high hopes that in the years to come, and this festival will have been institutionalised as a tourism event, Kolon Festival will rekindle Barangay Bulua’s identity as Cagayan de Oro’s only “Clay Country”.
Kolon Festival 2018
Joining the first ever Kolon Festival were Barangay Dansolihon, Barangay Lumbia, Cagayan de Oro City High School and Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School (MOGCHS). Contingents carrying clay pots donning colourful festival costumes, with respective festival queens carrying the Immaculate Conception icon, paraded from Apovel Subdivision to Bulua Central School, with street dancing performances at Zone 4 and Zone 5. Ritual showdown was held at Bulua Central School open field. Spectators composed mainly of elementary pupils and teachers inside the campus. Barangay Captain Al P. Legaspi Jr. formally opened the program, he recounted in his speech the goal of the local government unit of Barangay Bulua in holding the first Kolon Festival. And that is, to remind Buluanons about the rich history of Bulua and to pay homage and celebrate the identity that our forefathers has created for us.
Grand Winner: MOGCHS First Runner-Up: CDO City High School Second Runner-up: Barangay Lumbia / Tribu Higalaay Consolation Prize: Barangay Dansolihon
Kolon Festival in Photos
Hail Holy Queen! Viva Imaculada Concepcion! Happy Fiesta, Barangay Bulua! More photos from Tom Udasco Photography Facebook Page: Kolon Festival 2018