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CULTURAL POTPOURRI | 32nd Naliyagan Festival of Agusan del Sur

Courtesy call (l-r): Gov. Santiago Cane, Jr., Michael E. Dakudao, Cong. Eddiebong Plaza, Lannie Merilo, Shy & Atty. JD Quinonez

Through the invitation of the Provincial Governor of Agusan del Sur Santiago Cane, Jr. coursed through the beautiful former Mutya ng Davao Sharon “Shy” Quinonez, Discovery Samal’s Lannie Merilo and I made our way to Agusan del Sur last Independence Day to take part as judges in the Naliyagan Festival’s Costume Competition of the Bae Naliyagan 2024. Naliyagan is a Manobo word which means “the chosen one” or “the most loved one.” The Naliyagan Festival is Agusan del Sur’s province-wide festivity which starts on June 12 and ends on the Foundation Anniversary on June 17. The week-long festival is a celebration of socio-cultural and the art exposition of tribes’ skills in crafts-making and sports. The Festival recognizes the Manobo people’s loyalty to the tribal leader Datu Lipus Makapandong after whom a cultural center is named.


Agusanon hospitality by Cong. Eddibong and Madam Maribel Plaza

The four hour comfortable ride from Davao to Agusan del Sur seemed like a breeze as we enjoyed listening and learning from the political views of Shy’s beloved husband, lawyer JD Quinonez. Atty. JD Quinonez works for the friendly Congressman Eddiebong Plaza, a member of the House of Representatives of the Philippines since 2019. Cong. Plaza is one passionate advocate of science-based solutions for soil in land suitability and fertilization program for increased productivity among small-scale farmers. He acknowledges and emphasizes the need for science-based strategies to expand the Upland Sustainable Agroforestry Development (USAD) Program to the other municipalities in Agusan del Sur due to land or crop suitability issues and concerns. The good Congressman Plaza would usually hold the USAD Farmers’ Day to tackle important issues on farming.

(l-r) Festival Costume Judges Exur Pastor Ranoa, Michael E. Dakudao, Lannie Merilo

The vast land of 33.40 hectares that comprises the Governor Democrito O. Plaza Government Center in Patin-ay, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur, is one amazing provincial government center planned to implement Agusan del Sur’s strategic development framework to ensure sustainable growth in the region. The precious property was donated by Gov. D. O. Plaza, the Manobo father of Congressman Eddiebong Plaza. An impressive architecture I came across in Agusan del Sur is the well-designed manse of Congresman Eddiebong and Madam Maribel Plaza. The friendly Congressman and his loving wife were so generous with their brand of hospitality which blessed us with comfortable accommodations and delicious fiesta food. Indeed, Lannie Merilo and I felt so pampered and we were truly grateful to have made the long trip.

Festival Costume Competition

According to Atty. JD Quinonez, it was Cong. Plaza’s decision to replace the talent portion to Bae Naliyagan 2024: Festival Costume Competition to make the pageant more interesting. This change was also to showcase the talents and creativity of fashion designers of the region. The Province of Agusan del Sur is divided into 13 municipalities and one city such that there were 14 beautiful candidates who vied for the title of Bae Naliyagan 2024. Besides Lannie Merilo, the Director for Sales and Marketing of Discovery Samal, and myself as judges, we were joined by beauty title holder of many pageants Exur Pastor Ranoa who runs a business that creates festival costumes and beauty pageant apparels.

Golden Harvest designed by Stephen Azarcon won Best in Festival Costume Award for Roselyn Ebero

14 fabulous costumes were presented to us both in close view and while paraded on stage from a distance from the judges. The criteria for judging included Craftsmanship, Creativity and Originality; Value and Relevance to Agusan del Sur; Visual Quality; Wearability and Functionality; and Overall Impact. By the end of the competition which was professionally directed by Dan Salvana, it was Roselyn Ebero from the municipality of Rosario who won the Best Festival Costume Award for her “Golden Harvest” inspired costume designed by Stephen Azarcon. During the Grand Coronation Night, Yvette Faye Castro from the municipality of Prosperidad was proclaimed Bae Naliyagan 2024.

What a memorable experience to be a part of Agusan del Sur’s Naliyagan Festival for the first time. I hope it’s not going to be the last. I am truly grateful to Gov. Santiago Cane, Jr., Cong. & Ms. Eddiebong Plaza, Atty. JD & Shy Quinonez, and Dan Salvana.

Bae Naliyagan 2024 Yvette Faye Castro


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