Sandugo Festival 2001
The Sandugo Festival celebrates the signing of a treaty of friendship between the Spanish Captain General Miguel Lopez de Legaspi and Datu Sikatuna, a local Philippine leader. The treaty was signed on the SW coast of Bohol Island in March of 1565. This was 44 years after Ferdinand Magellan was killed attacking a Philippine village on Mactan Island about 50 miles north of here.
The Sandugo treaty is called a blood compact because the participants each drink a small amount of the other's blood. ("Dugo" means blood in the Visayan language.) This was a traditional way to formalize treaties of friendship in the Philippines. Magellan himself took part in several of these ceremonies before attacking Mactan Island.
The Festival was held in March until a few years ago, when it was changed to July. (We were unable to find out why the date of the celebration has been changed.)
Today, the highlight of the Sandugo Festival is a street dancing competition held in Tagbilaran City. Each local high school develops its own dance routine with special costumes and choreography. A small marching band follows each group of dancers to provide the music. The bands consist only of xylophones, drums, and trumpets. Some of the dancing was very good, and the costumes were very colorful.
The parade also included the usual entourage of local officials, police department, local businesses and associations - and, of course, the local beauty queens, Miss Bohol and Miss Tagbilaran.
A big surprise to us was the last parade entry, which was a large flat bed truck carrying 9 or 10 very flamboyant and attractive transvestites. There were no banners on the truck, just a few white ballons attached to the cab and printed, "Miss Gay 2001". This entry was a real crowd pleaser and received more of a reaction than any other parade event. They were met with hoots and hollers and cheers all along the parade route. We were told that the transvestites traditionally work as beauticians in the local beauty parlors, and are readily accepted in the community.
UPDATE: We attended the Sandugo Festival Parade again in July, 2002. For more Sandugo parade photos, see page 2.
return to the 2001 Journal Archive