Photos from the We Love Gumaca Facebook Page - 2023 Araña't Baluarte Festival opening and ribbon cutting ceremony.

GUMACA, QUEZON — It has been three years since COVID-19 started. The festivities were halted, and mass gatherings were forbidden. Entertainment and traditions were only remembered through documented photos and videos. But since then, many activities that were put on hold during the COVID-19 epidemic are slowly returning as vaccination rates continue to rise and restrictions are lifted, thus representing a ray of hope and a return to routines.

Gumaca, a municipality in the province of Quezon, Philippines, has celebrated the ceremonial opening of the Araña’t Baluarte. In spite of the weather, both locals and tourists were excitedly anticipating the cultural dances, songs, and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Hence, believing that the rain was a blessing from San Isidro Labrador the Araña’t Baluarte 2023 was officially opened by Hon. Mayor Webster D. Letargo, Hon. Vice-Mayor Rico Bañal, Hon. Sangguniang Bayan Members, Mr. Russel Ner (Tourism Designate Officer), Mr. Zuelo Uy and Ms. Eva Uy (Chairman, Gumaca Tourism Council), the 2023 Baluarte Panel of Judges, and Hon. Kgwd Beboy (Chairman, Gumaca Federation of Brgy. Tourism).

Right after the grand and colorful ribbon cutting, a joyful parade of participants (people and lyre bands) moved through the streets of Gumaca. During the parade, the NC, BC – Atimonan, who were accompanied by the NC, BC – Gumaca, served as one of the panel of judges to evaluate the 2023 Baluartes. The Gumaca Tourism Office believed that a judge who is not a local might be less influenced by personal contacts or connections within the community. This can help guarantee that decisions are based entirely on the criteria of the festival. Thus, all the board of judges (for the Baluarte and Yubak contests) are non-Gumacaqueños.

The launch of Araña’t Baluarte turned out to be a tremendous success despite the early rain, a proof of the locals’ and tourists’ fortitude and tenacity, as well as the ability of shared experiences to get through whatever is thrown at them, a reminder of the strength and beauty of nature, as well as the value of tradition and culture in their lives.

Date of Release: 31 May 2023