Araña't Baluarte Festival 2016: Cultural Adventure

The month of May is the best month to visit the province of Quezon. Not only are its seas calm and its farms green but because some of its towns are also celebrating their annual festivals. 

One such festival is the Araña't Baluarte Festival of Gumaca. It is a harvest festival held in honor of San Isidro Labrador who is the patron saint of farmers. The festival is held every 15th of May which coincides with the Pahiyas Festival of Lucban and the Mayohan Festival of Tayabas, both of which are also harvest festivals.
Those hanging veggies and fruits are the aranas 
...and this is a baluate
So what does Araña and Baluarte mean? The word araña is a Spanish word for chandelier while baluarte on the other hand is the Spanish word for stronghold or a strongly fortified defensive structure. In case you're wondering what is the interrelationship of a chandelier and a stronghold with a harvest festival, the answer is simple... it's all in the props and presentations.
#1 baluarte- Brgy Rosario 
#2 baluarte- District 6 
#3 baluarte- Barangay Panikihan 
#4 baluarte 
To elaborate more of this props and presentation, several barangays of Gumaca are given specific locations in the town proper to build an arch. They would then decorate these arches with their harvested products and make them distinct and attractive. Now these arches symbolizes the baluartes of strongholds while the decorative harvested products, particularly the ones hanging from the arches are the arañas or chandeliers.
#5 baluate- Barangay Mabini 
#6 baluarte- Barangay Bagong Buhay 
#7 baluarte- District 5 

During the festival proper, the image of San Isidro Labrador would be paraded in the town following the established route for the year's festival. This route would pass all the baluartes, symbolically blessing the barangays of Gumaca with another year of good harvest.

#8 baluarte- District 8
#9 baluarte- Barangay Rizal
#10 baluarte -Barangay Maunlad
#11 baluarte -District 1
The arañas on the other hand would be released for visitors to grab and take home. (free fruits and veggies for everyone!) While waiting for this to happen, visitors could go around town to visit the different baluartes. Each has a small booth where locals give out free tastes of several of their products while some have instagram ready areas for visitors to snap away and post selfies with colorful and beautiful backgrounds. 
#12 baluarte- Barangay Bagong Buhay
#13 baluarte- District 7
#14 baluarte 
#15 baluarte -Barangay Tabing Dagat
Before I talk about my experience in the festival, let me first thank the Quezon Tourism Office for giving me the chance to participate in the 2016 Araña't Baluarte Festival as part of their Experience Quezon 2016 Media Tour. Aside from that I would also like to thank the men and women of the local government of Gumaca for their hospitality (the breakfast and lunch was yummy!)
some teachers of Gumaca performing for us
and also sharing with us their beautiful smile
Lunch in the mayor's meeting room (VIP feels).
Now as for my experience, the most memorable of it was when the local teachers of Gumaca performed their cultural dance for us wearing beautiful costumes complete with a smoking volcano background props. We also got to experience how to make our own araña using only eggplants.  
Remembrance photo
However, with great experiences comes not so good ones too... I would just like to point out the heavy traffic going in and out of Gumaca during the festival. I think it is caused by the lack of alternate routes or diversion roads that would let passers by skip the town. This traffic made us miss the bancarera event and also the start of the parade. 
arana making
the women of our group showed us their skills in making aranas

Then we had fun grabbing those banana chips
the media team...
Overall, one should experience Araña't Baluarte Festival of Gumaca at least once in their lives. It is safe to say that it is one of the best festivals in Southern Luzon.

If you're planning to attend next year's festival, please do keep these in mind:

  1. Leave Manila early, if possible a day before the festival.
  2. Book for a place to stay. There are plenty of resorts lined up in the shores of Lamon Bay.
  3. Bring an umbrella or sunscreen.
  4. Enjoy!


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