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Sunday, November 1, 2020

Opening Salvo in Pototan, Iloilo, Philippines

Every 16th day of December, it is customary for the people of Pototan, a municipality of Iloilo in the Philippines, to greet the Christmas Season with ‘Iwag’ or ‘Opening Salvo.’ Tourism is promoted in this part of the province, where many balikbayans troop the streets joining street dancing activities.

School Participations

All schools from elementary to college prepare for this event every year. Public and private schools practice for the competition of best costume, best performance, symbolism and originality of participation. The occasion is known not only in the Island of Panay but in the whole Philippines and all over the world.

Aside from street dancing, floats parade to grace the occasion from 2 pm to 6 pm, according to the number of schools, and sometimes businesses and barangays participating. Students are glamorously attired and all reveal the spirit of Christmas. Whatever style they present, whatever Christmas message they convey and whatever song they may spin as the background, spectators jerk and dance with them.
Large amounts and kinds are at stake for the winners. However, the schools are not after the amount but the honor and spirit that they want to deliver during this Yuletide Season.

‘Iwag’ or ‘Opening Salvo’

Iwag means light and Opening Salvo is the meeting of the season with sounds or whatever there may be. Fireworks display after the parade is the most awaited portion of the day. Visitors are already crowding the streets and the whole plaza. When 8 or 9 pm strikes, all lights are on. It could just be imagined how much this luxurious event would cost the ‘Rice Granary of the Visayas’ to set up the lights , elegant lanterns and burn them for the masses to witness.

But Christmas is really a Season of Joy and Thanksgiving for the residents. They don’t count the cost but the graces they acquired, and which in return they give back to God.

With the Opening Salvo, the plaza is displayed to the public, visitors, and balikbayans to boost the tourism industry.

Joining the Celebration

Most of the participants to the wondrous event are students and children. In the morning they gather for a last glance of the streets they are to pass by and perform. They are so much exposed to the sun. Packs of breakfast are distributed to them at the plaza. They grow tense at the instructions they hear from their leaders. Instead of drinking cold water, teachers serve them with either ice cream and sandwich, or for the small ones, additional packs of fruit juice. One could just imagine how their sweats are comforted and exchanged with smiles on their faces. They are really inspired by the snacks.

Christmas in Pototan, Iloilo is enjoyable and glamorously celebrated. The municipality has been known for its beautiful and elegant presentation every 16th day of December ‘Iwag’ or ‘Opening Salvo.’ It is featured in international news and magazines yearly.

Image courtesy:  Jay Gadong on Facebook  |

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