San Jose del Monte City strives to shine

Defying rains and strong wind brought by two typhoons — “Goring” and “Hanna” -— and the southwest monsoon, the local government of San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan kicked off the celebration of its Tanglawan Festival on 1 September with a flashy program and a fashion show.

This year, the city in the eastern portion of the Central Luzon province is holding its biggest festival yet, which lasts until 10 September.  Tanglawan is spearheaded by the city’s prominent political family, led by its mayor Arthur Robes and his wife, congresswoman Florida P. Robes. Meant as a celebration of the anniversary of San Jose del Monte’s achievement of cityhood on 10 September 2000, the festival aims to project the city as a beacon of progress in the province, thus the name, which derived from the Tagalog word tanglaw, meaning “light.” Launched in 2016, it is also, of course, an opportunity for San Joseños to gather together, enjoy and be entertained.

In the 2017 festival, the city made a bid to be included in the Guinness World Records for mounting the largest lantern parade on 19 September, involving 14,173 people. During the two years of lockdowns because of the coronavirus pandemic, the festival was held virtually. It made a comeback as an onsite event in 2022.

This year, Tanglawan Festival, which has the theme, “Tanglaw ko, Bukas Mo, Mananatiling Bulakenyo. Yes to HUC!,” is made grander to promote its bid to secure a highly urbanized city status,  according to the deputy festival director Glenn de Jesus.

The Pasiklab ng Tanglawan: Tanglawan Festival Grand Opening at the CSJDM Sports Complex featured celebrities, such as Robi Domingo, Darren Espanto, Paul Salas, AC Bonifacio and Jillian Ward. The show also featured the debut of the new signature moves created by dance group Douglas Nierras Powerdance, performed by about 400 dancers to the new festival theme song composed by Ato del Rosario. The moves and music would be used for their street-dancing parade and competition, the Arya-aryahan Street Dance Comp the first time that the festival featured a fashion show, a nod to the city’s garment industry. Organizers said that San Jose del Monte was once considered the fashion capital.

The “Tanglaw ng Kahapon” part of the fashion show showcased the collections of Viña Romero, who is from San Jose del Monte, with accessories by Arnel Papa. A collection took heavy inspiration from the Dumagat people, an indigenous people of the city, which can be problematic. Another collection was inspired by the piña fabric.

The second part of the show featured the luxurious pieces of Francis Libiran, who hails from the town of Balagtas.

Organizers hope that the fashion show would be a regular part of the lineup of events of the Tanglawan Festival, which includes events regularly seen in modern festivals in the country, such as trade fairs, sporting competitions, concerts and parades.