Organized by the municipal government of Carigara, it is held every January 25th with a week-long schedule in its calendar of activities. The date is generally a special non-working holiday.
History of Magara Festival
During the term of Eduardo Ong Sr. as mayor, the Magara Festival was conducted for the first time in 2019 as the trademark celebration of the town.
Its name, magara, translates to abundant or elegant. The goal of the fest was to highlight four areas: agriculture, history, people, and products.
Rodolfo Parena and Neil Salarda composed the jingle used in the Magara Festival, and they were given honors in 2019.
History of Carigara
Magara Festival is a look back to the time that the town of Carigara was founded. In the past, the town was called Tandaya or its variation, Candaya, as mentioned in Miguel de Loarca’s historical account in the 16th century.
Alternatively, according to oral tradition, it was called Kan Gara or Kangara which translated to “belonging to Gara”. Gara was believed to be one of the Malay settlers from the expedition that landed in the island of Panay centuries before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores.
Carigara is the oldest town established in Eastern Visayas. On January 25, 1571, Miguel Lopez de Legazi gave the town as an encomienda to a Spanish colonizer named Juan de Trujillo. This is the founding date that the festival observes every year.
Another celebration is scheduled every July 16, the fiesta celebration that remembers the establishment of Holy Cross Parish in 1595 when Jesuit missionary Pedro Chirino arrived in the town. The church is the oldest parish erected in Eastern Visayas.
Other festivals in the town include the Turogpo Festival (Black Saturday) and Sunduan ha Carigara (Easter Sunday).
Magara Festival Activities
Magara Festival boasts of sports, contests, entertainment, variety shows, cultural presentations, parade, etc. Here are the other highlights.
Datu Gara Awards
Datu Gara Awards is named after the traditional founder of the town in before the Spanish conquest. The awards are given to citizens who have brought pride through their excellent works in their respective fields and invaluable contribution to the development of the municipality.
The festival also promotes hubhob, a delicacy in Eastern Visayas. It is made of cassava, sugar, milk, and egg; the mixture is filled into a bamboo tube called bagakay and grilled over coal.
Magara Festival Queen
The Magara Festival Queen is chosen for the event. They wear visually striking costumes and participate in a street parade.
The dance drama is another mainstay of the festival. It depicts the different characteristics of way of life of Carigara: agriculture (pag-uma), history (kaagi), fishery (panagat), and local products (produkto). This is reflected in the main event, a dance drama that depicts these different aspects of town life.
- Marie Tonette Marticio. Oldest town in Leyte holding first official festival. Manila Bulletin. January 24, 2019. Retrieved November 22, 2022
- Leyte’s oldest town welcomes Palace holiday declaration. Philippine News Agency. Lizbeth Ann Abella. January 23, 2019. Retrieved November 22, 2022
- Proclamation No. 1446, s. 2008. Official Gazette. Retrieved November 22, 2022
- Holy Cross Parish – Carigara. Archdiocese of Palo. Retrieved November 22, 2022
- Leyte town honors its outstanding people, business establishments. Leyte Samar Daily Express.