By Erwin M. Mascariñas
Surigao City — Around 70,000 thousand people trooped to this city, dubbed as the gateway to Mindanao, as hundreds of performers from different parts of Caraga Region and Misamis Oriental province showcased their interpretation of the annual Bonok-Bonok Festival in honor of the patron saint Nicolas de Tolentino in thanksgiving for sparing the city from natural disasters.
“This year as we celebrate our 34th Bonok-Bonok Maradjaw Karadjaw Festival, we honor it to our patron saint Nicolas de Tolentino as Surigao City has been spared from several typhoons and earthquakes that came our way,” Roselyn Armida Merlin, supervising tourism operations officer of the Surigao City tourism office.
“Amid the 6.7 magnitude earthquake of February 2017 and then the magnitude 5.1 earthquake in July and several typhoons that threatened our city like Tropical Storm Basyang this February, we are thankful that the city was spared from massive fatality and devastation.”
Bonok-Bonok Maradjaw Karadjaw Festival street dancing celebration culminated on Sept. 9, with 19 competing teams from different parts of Surigao City.
Pouring of blessings
“Literally the meaning of Bonok is a heavy pour of rain, the pouring of rain signifies for us the blessing from the sky. Repeating the word twice as to Bonok-Bonok signifies pouring of blessings,” said Merlin.
According to local historians, “the festivity traces its tradition back to the early indigenous settlers of Surigao City as they dance their prayers and offerings to ask for rain as the month of September back then is part of the dry months.”
Merlin added, “the climate and the dry and wet season might have changed but the tradition remains. This tradition was further embraced as part of the Christian tradition linking to the feast of the city’s patron saint Nicolas de Tolentino.”
“As we celebrate our 34th year, Throughout Caraga Region, none is as old as Bonok-Bonok Maradjaw Karadjaw and for us, it is a great pride for the people of Surigao City,” she said.
Biggest street celebration in Caraga Region
Surigao City Mayor Ernesto T. Matugas expressed that this year’s street dancing celebration is the biggest with 19 different teams from different parts of Surigao City, the provinces of Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, and Misamis Oriental.
“We are aiming high, we hope to have our Bonok-Bonok festival known not only throughout the country but globally. In terms of prize for the participating teams, around P3.2 million was prepared, over-all together with the preparations and logistics, we budgeted around 5 million for the event,” said Matugas.
Ma. Ana T. Nuguid, regional director of the Department of Tourism in Caraga Region stated that she is optimistic that the festival will grow more in the years to come.
“I first participated in this festival last year, and it has grown bigger and grander. I’ve seen all the other street dancing competitions here in Caraga and other parts of Northern Mindanao and Bonok-Bonok has made a name for itself as the biggest in the region,” said Nuguid.
According to the event organizer, this year’s competition will showcase the largest number of participants per team.
As each team will have about 100 to 160 members that will include dancers, instrumentalists, props and logistical support.
Gingoog City tourism office revealed that they have a delegation of around 250 to 300 people.
The Bonok-Bonok Maradjaw Karadjaw Festival Street dancing competition had two categories, the Bonok-Bonok Festival of Festivals category and Bonok-Bonok Based category.
For the Bonok-Bonok Festival of Festivals, the contingent from the town of Placer in Surigao del Norte won the grand prize of P500,000; then the Mt. Sioan Academy from Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental took the second spot with P350,000 and the third went to Kulturang Capalaynon with P200,000.
For the Bonok-Bonok Based category Mat-i National High School from Surigao City with P250,000; followed by C.V. Diez Memorial Central Elementary School with P200,000 and third to Surigao City National High School with P150,000.
A consolation prize of P100,000 was given to all the teams.