MISAMIS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – Residents of Tangub City consider the Christmas Symbol Festival in their hometown more than just a show of lights, For them, it is a showcase of their rich culture and heritage.
This is why Rosemarie Nangahan is as excited as tourists about the festival every year. The street sweeper has witnessed how the Christmas symbol display has evolved since 1992 when it was first introduced.
"Dako kaayog kabag-uhan kay dagko naman, gi lahi man ang building na nila, dagko na kayo ilahang gipangbuhat nga symbol ba, sauna kay gagmay raman to sauna karon nindot na kayo, gwapo na kayo," Rosemarie Nangahan said.
(We look forward to new sites and symbols that change every year. They already made even bigger structures now unlike the little ones before which helped our city attract more tourists wanting to see the beautiful symbols.)
How it evolved
Christmas Symbol Festival is Tangub City's yearly showcase of displays that are mostly inspired by international landmarks around the world. All barangays in the city participate in the celebration starting December 1 each year, culminating a week after New Year.
The festivity started in 1992 as the city yearned for a little Christmas vibe. Mayor Phillip T. Tan and his wife, Jennifer Wee-Tan, erected a lighted Christmas tree at the city plaza.
This started the city-wide ritual of setting up vibrant indigenous Christmas symbols made by local residents every year. (READ: LOOK: Tangub City features Christmas around the world)
As time passed by, the city got the limelight it deserved through its showcase of beautiful decorations. In 2007, the Department of Tourism (DOT) named the city "Christmas Symbol Capital of the Philippines."
The continuous influx of tourists also boosted the city's small businesses, especially those of the food vendors'.
"Dakogyudogkatabang sa amongnegosyotungod samga festivalsdiri sa Tangub, kaymahurot pud amongmga sudan,masnakatabangsiya kaytungod samgatawong inganhidiri," Jonalyn Barimbao, a stall owner, said. (READ: WATCH: Extraordinary 'mani' in Pagadian City)
(The Christmas Festival here in Tangub boosts our business because tourists buy our food. It really helps that more and more people come to visit our Christmas Symbols every year.)
Tangub City is a 4th class city situated in the province of Misamis Occidental. It is surrounded by Mount Malindang and Panguil Bay. Its local inhabitants are usually known as Tangubanons; renowned for their immense hospitality and artistic abilities.
The best part of the festival is that it strengthened the unity and harmony of the community. Being the symbol that ties all Tangubanons together, the festivity brought about the voluntary participation of the residents in keeping the city clean and hospitable to tourists. (READ: IN PHOTOS: Christmas 2017 at Manila's hotels)
According to Moriel Canete of 25-50 Commission, Tangub City is a city of heritage, art, and culture.
"More than commercialization, the city is inclined to developing its residents to be more artsy and culture-focused," Canete said.
25-50 Commission is the lead organizer of Tangub's 25th year of Christmas Symbol Festival and 50th year of the city's charter come February 2018.
The city also boasts of its home-like feeling that other cities supposedly fail to deliver. In Tangub, residents boast that visitors would not feel like they are far away from home.
This 2017, Tangub City is celebrating its 25th year in providing a perfect holiday option for family and friends. Tourists traveling to Mindanao can still catch the Christmas display until early January 2018. – Rappler.com
EstudyanTRIP is a group of young campus journalists who are also Rappler's Movers in Pagadian City. Among its members are Carl Don S. Berwin, Jel Jerusalem, Prince Lloyd Besorio, Shanne Almazan, and Ernest Bryan Babano. Traveling and video blogging is their way of showcasing the beauty of Mindanao.