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Ten brilliant years of Tabaqueños pride: ingenuity, cultural wealth and agricultural bounty… ten days to stand for a decade of grand and painstaking efforts to bringing the world at the doorsteps of local citizens.

On June 16 to 25, 2012, Tabaco City is the biggest and the brightest city in the Philippines. The best of Tabaco… the best of Tabak is coming to life to celebrate a good ten years of resilience, steadfastness and growth of the community.

More than making a name in the arena of Philippine Festivals, Mayor Krisel Lagman-Luistro envisioned a vehicle for Tabaqueños to showcase their artistry and heritage. A decade ago, through the combined efforts of former Mayor Alex Burce, Albay Board Member Glenda Ong-Bongao (previous city councilor of Tabaco) and Mayor Krisel (then Albay First District Representative), a festival was born.

The past ten years of Tabak Festival mirrored the journey of the people of Tabaco from merely being an audience of television shows to being all part of the festivity—no longer spectators, but ‘actors’ on the local stage.

“Celebrating the Tabak Festival means that once a year, Tabaco City becomes the center of the world,” Mayor Lagman-Luistro said as she spoke of the shift from celebrating a simple Tabaco Fiesta to the grandeur of holding a festival.

The City of Tabaco revved through the 10th Tabak Festival opening ceremonies with a blast of merrymaking. The festival commenced at 5:30 o’clock in the morning with the celebration of a holy mass at St. John the Baptist Parish Church. It was followed by the parade of the City’s pillars, which included the City Mayor, the Vice Mayor and the City Council, the LGU personnel, the council of the 47 barangays in Tabaco, the officers and representatives from PNP, BFP and BJMP, and the DEPED. The beat and the colorful throng of the drum and bugle corps from different secondary and elementary schools enlivened the affair, which was further sparked by the vivacious finalists of Mutya and Ginoong Tabak who dazzled and electrified the crowd.
In her message during the program, Mayor Krisel spoke of the three major elements that symbolize the City: tabak (bolo), padyak (pedicab) and abaca (a local fiber). Tabak represents the people of Tabaco’s courage in spirit. Padyak reflects the people’s love for the environment; since the vehicle is pedalled by the driver’s strength and uses no gasoline. And the abaca, a commonly-used material for making ropes, ornaments and native bags, and now, exported globally to supply textile industries, which embodies the local pride of the Tabaqueños for hardwork.

The opening ceremonies ended with a ceremonial toast to formally declare the commencement of the festival.

The highlights of the festival were the following: Agri-Fair, TNHS Class ‘80 Fun Run Goes Green, Sibidan Race (Boat Race), Karawat Bikolnon (Laro ng Lahi Bicol version), Amazing Padyak Race, Ganda ng Lola Mo Fashion Show (Senior Citizen’s Day), Tabak Street Dance Competition, Biggest Loser LGU-Tabaco Edition, Baklakasan (Gay Basketball Exhibition) and the Luv Boat Maiden Voyage (a yacht cruise traversing the coastline of San Miguel Island).

In keeping with Tabaco’s tradition for beauty, wisdom, and charm, three pageant shows remained: Mutya ng Tabak, Ginoong Tabak and Mutya ng Tabakla.

A landmark affair also had its debut on the festival’s tenth anniversary — the Hiblang Bikol: An Abacà Fashion Show featuring the collections of Bon Gavino-Gautier, Edgar Madamba, Curitthy Manzanero, and Barge Ramos.

The finalists of Mutya ng Tabak paraded on the runway in hand-woven abaca fabrics from classic to intricate cuts. Personality models were also invited to experience the uniqueness of wearing abaca outfits from corporate ensemble to cocktail dresses, barong and Filipiniana gowns made with fabrics that come from locally-grown abaca.

The event was even more heightened when former Senator Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, former Surigao del Norte Governor Robert “Ace”Barbers and Valenzuela City Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian, who were former colleagues of Mayor Krisel at the House of Representatives, together with the Mayor herself and her fellow LGU officials, sported the handcrafted apparels that were especially made for them.

On Sunday, the 24th of June 2012 the frontpages of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Philippine Star were splashed with the lively and colorful photos of the beautiful Tabak Festival Street Dance Competition on 22 June, Friday which was graced by Las Piñas Representative Cynthia Villar who gamely participated in the activity as guest judge.

Culminating this ten-day event is a beach party at the pristine island of San Miguel with fire dancing, live bands, comedy shows and other surprise activities.

To top off the celebration of the decade, the city government and festival organizers have made sure that the Tabaqueños experienced all the entertainment for free. Television personalities, singers like Bugoy Drilon, boy bands such as Cueshe, Brownman Revival and Spongecola, and other local artists were present to rock and amuse the local crowd.

The Tabaco City has all the right to marvel at all its tangible beauty: natural and man-made. But the best achievement of them all, is its people — the city’s greatest treasure. For without their beautiful minds, this grand and major occasion only remains as an imagination, a show on television.

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