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Binirayan: Antiqueños' pride

The Binirayan festival in Antique will again be celebrated on April 27-29, 2005 . A brainchild of the late Governor Evelio B. Javier, it will show the history, or the legend, behind the First Malayan Settlement in Malandog, Hamtic, Antique long before the occupation of the Philippines by the Spaniards.

The celebration is not only anchored on historical facts. It has a far stronger and more binding foundation – the hearts and minds of the Antiqueños, who believed that Datu Sumakwel and the other Bornean datus once settled in the plains of Malandog.

During the first Binirayan Festival in 1974, Gov. Evelio B. Javier had thought of infusing pride in his people by recalling their past glory. He has sensed the reluctance of Antiqueños to figure competitively in endeavors of excellence in spite their potential for achievement.

Drawing a parallel from history, he had concluded that Israelis are progressive because they believed that they are the “chosen people”. In everything that that they do, they think that they could do better that the others. In the same manner, if Antiqueños are made aware of their great past, if they believe in their potential, coupled with an incorruptible work ethic, they could be capable of achieving greatness as a people.

Evelio also thought of tapping the concern of the Antiqueños in other lands, which he refer to as “Layas Antiqueños” as he believed that they are a potent force in the transformation of a community. And so, while other festivals are plain revelry and feasting, the Binirayan festival became a symbol and frame of reference for all Antiqueños. Others prefer to call it a journey to their past: their roots, their glory.

If past glory were to be the yardstick of greatness, Antique will be great, for the first organized settlement came to be in plains of Hamtic. Datu Sumakwel in his famous Code formulated the first semblance of law and order, which was later to be adopted by the Confederation of Madia-as, and other later civilizations in the archipelago.

The celebration began in 1974. Past accounts of the festival described it, thus: “Binirayan then was featuring the episodes and heroes in Philippine history. There was no definite structure then except for some loose improvisation to present something that could pass a street theater and historical pageant. And it was that way during the first four years with little addition here or subtraction there to tell the story of settlement of Panay and to provide varying forms of entertainment for the Antiqueños and their guests. In 1978, however, the Binirayan celebration graduated into a street theater scripted and written by Antiqueños themselves.

The Binirayan 2005 festival is something to remember as assured by the Binirayan Foundation, Inc. (BFI) headed by its Executive Director Alex C. Delos Santos. Mr. Delos Santos, is concurrently the Executive Director of Paranublion Antique, an NGO that trail-blazes cultural work in the province. With his exposure to culture and the arts, Antiqueños unique traditions and culture will be highlighted.

The festival theme this year is “Kultura kag katiringban: Pagpalayag sa kaaraydan kang Antique” (Culture and Society: Sailing towards a better quality of life in Antique), which jives with Gov. Salvacion Z. Perez' leadership approach of focusing on culture and governance. Gov. Perez has been known as a supporter of culture and the arts in the province. (With data from the previous Binirayan Souvenir Program)