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Dalit Festival has a long history. According to Mrs. Narcisa A. Naron, General Commissioner of Tangub City Historical Commission and Vice Mayor Edemar S. Alota as far as memory can recall, Dalit Festival started during the leadership of late Mayor then Gov. Alfonso D. Tan. It used to be a field demonstration participated in by different schools in the city. Not only students participated, but teachers as well. It was a very much anticipated and well participated event in which the parents themselves shouldered the cost of costumes of their children. And the city plaza was full of people. Vice Mayor Alota further reminisced that the festival started with the offering of a goat or chicken.
How did the word Dalit Festival come to be used? Mrs. Naron remembered that she was sent by then Mayor Alfonso Tan to attend a seminar on tourism in Butuan City. The participants shard about their festivals and what the name was. When it was her turn, she could not give any name to the celebration held in Tangub. Upon her return to the city, she shared the experience with then Mayor Tan, who in turn asked the city councilors to give a name befitting the festival and be able to justify why. The festival was then held on February 28 as highlight of the city charter anniversary celebration. Among the names given, the late city councilor Crispin Alngohuro gave the name Dalit justifying that the festival was an offering for the abundance of harvest, peace and harmony that the city enjoyed the past year. The body found the name very appropriate, and the name stuck.
During the time of City Mayor Philip T. Tan, Dalit Festival celebration was transferred to September 29. It was made fitting as an offering to the city’s patron saint for the peace, harmony and abundance that the city experienced during the year. From then on, Dalit Festival evolved into a grand festivity. First there was Barangay Clusters category, and then came the Invitational Category. For four years now, the lead dancer of each contingent is given recognition in the Search for the Dalit Festival Queen.
Dalit Festival, held every September 29 is celebrated in honor of Tangub City’s patron saint, St. Michael the Archangel. Dalit means offering, the people’s offering of thanksgiving for the blessings the people received from the Almighty through the years.
As had become tradition, Dalit Festival is held with pageantry befitting a grand celebration. To make it more festive and widely participated in, the festival became a contest among the clustered barangays of the city (Barangay Category) and participants from neighboring cities and municipalities (Invitational Category). The Search for Dalit Festival Queen, a newly added attraction, is already four years old. It is a contest among the lead dancers as to dance grace and rhythm, beauty of the face and body proportion, focus and projection, and costume. She is the main attraction during the whole group presentation. In the first two years, the contest is held on the night of September 28. However, in the last two years, the contest is held right after the showdown or ritual presentation.
Over the years, presentations from both categories evolved into a finer art in terms of movement, costume, and overall presentation. Movements became more graceful and well executed, costumes and props became more elaborate and colorful. The festival is also gaining prestige and popularity, the reason why more out-of-town participants join the festival every year.
The festival kicks-off with street dancing in the morning of September 29. Contingents assemble at Barangay Mantic behind the Dona Maria D. Tan Memorial Hospital where the parade starts. A streamer carried by the group representatives and supporters announces the group’s identity and origin. Each contingent is accompanied by its city/municipality officials or any representative while a vehicle bearing logistical support goes with each contingent during the parade.
Sheds for judges are posted at specific areas along the parade route, where participants stop to perform their dance routine in front of the judges. The main thoroughfare of the city explodes with vivid colors and vibrant movements of the performers. Unmindful of the scorching heat of the sun, performers dance with gusto to the delight of the crowd along the way. The movement ceases until lunchtime.
This year, the showdown is held at the bigger and newly constructed sports complex at Gov. Alfonso D. Tan College campus. The bleachers were bursting to capacity, a crowd of more or less ten thousand to witness the grand celebration.