The Polillo Tarictic Festival
BY: ERROL A. GATUMBATO
POLILLO, QUEZON. It is quite interesting that this relatively isolated yet peaceful municipality in the central east coast of Luzon Island in Quezon province started to gain national attention due to pioneering conservation efforts in the area. Although development here seems so slow compared with other local government units in the Philippines, the uniqueness of the biodiversity and the magnificent landscape and seascape of this municipality and the entire Polillo Group of Islands, in general, are natural assets that may boost the potential of this island group of becoming one of the important vacation destinations in the country.
To highlight the biodiversity importance of the area, the local government of Polillo has included the Polillo Tarictic Festival on its annual fiesta every March. The festival started several years back with the simple parade of tarictic mascots, exhibits and kite flying competition. Recently, it evolved as an important event with the holding of Polillo tarictic dance completion and float parade. The Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Programme, currently administered by the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Inc., along with the Polillo Islands Biodiversity Conservation Foundation , Inc. provided technical assistance in the conceptualization and implementation of this festival.
It is important to note that the Polillo tarictic is endemic to the Polilllo Group of Islands, in spite that it is only a sub-species (Penelopides manillae subnigra) of the hornbill species known to science as Penelopides manillae. This is precisely the motivation why the LGU is providing prominence to this sub-species because its common tag carries the name of the municipality and it could not be found elsewhere in the country. Aside from Polillo tarictic there are also several other endemic faunal species and sub-species in this archipelago, such as the Philippine cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia), the Butaan monitor lizard (Varanus olivaceus), and at least nine endemic bird sub-species, the latter including the two of the world’s most endangered parrots – the Polillo endemic blue-naped (T. l. hybridus) and the Polillo blue-backed (T. s. freeri) parrots.
The Polillo Tarictic Festival is still on its infancy stage, but it has the potential of becoming another popular festival in the country if only the local government will be serious about it. The Polillo LGU needs to explore assistance and support from other institutions and individuals involved in organizing festivals, as well as to engage in massive and creative promotional activities. Most popular festivals in the Philippines do not carry a particular endemic fauna as a festival theme, and this makes the Polillo Tarictic Festival unique and original.
The concept of the festival is so simple. The dance competition showcases the natural features of the Polillo tarictic. It involves tarictic inspired costumes, music and even behaviour. The dance competition therefore becomes not only entertaining but educational as well. The creativity of interpreting the characteristics of tarictic through costumes and dances is challenging because the species itself is fabulous and colourful from its feathers, head, wings and body shape. The tarictic also flies graciously and its movement can be a very good inspiration in dance choreography. The use of indigenous materials for costumes of dance participants is another feature of the Polillo Tarictic Festival.
Polillo is one of the three municipalities comprising the Polillo Island – the two others are Burdeos and Panukulan. It belongs to the entire Polillo Group of Islands, which also includes two other island municipalities of Patnanungan and Jomalig. The Polillo Group of Islands comprises of 27 small islands and islets. It is perhaps the most distinct sub-centre of endemism within the Luzon Bio-Geographic Zone and the Lowland Luzon Endemic Bird Area. This group of islands maybe considered as one of the world’s highest conservation priority areas in terms of both numbers of threatened endemic taxa and degrees of threat.
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