Angono, Rizal LGU bans visitors to Higantes Festival 2021

Although the town’s ‘giants’ will again hit the streets of the Art Capital of the Philippines -- Angono, Rizal -- for the “Parada ng mga Higantes” (Parade of Giants) as part of the Higantes Festival 2021, an annual festivity in honor of the town’s patron saint, Saint Clement, non-residents of the town are discouraged from attending the series of celebrations this week.

One of the masked ‘higante’ stands outside the municipal hall in Angono, Rizal in time for the Higantes Festival parade on November 22-23. (Photo by Nel Andrade)

The office of Mayor Jeri Mae Calderon confirmed to Manila Bulletin that the yearly Higantes Festival, with the "giants" or giant mascot-like characters with heads made of either paper mache or fiber glass and bamboo or aluminum frame for the body are again allowed to dance on the streets of the town, starting November 22, in time for the feast day activities in honor of Saint Clement whose feast day is observed on November 23.

Residents were advised not to invite visitors to the festivities.

The "higantes" started showing up on the streets as part of the month-long celebration of the annual festival in thanksgiving to the Lord through the intercession of St. Clement.

The characters of the "higantes"’ are crafted by hand by the town’s artists themselves and are dressed to mimic popular town and national figures.

This year, due to the prevailing coronavirus pandemic, some of the "higantes" will be wearing face masks.

The HIgantes Parade and other festivities that are attracting huge crowd of tourists were not permitted last year due to the strict quarantine protocols. All festivities in 2020 were held online.

Another tradition during the feast day of Saint Clement is the Pagoda or the fluvial procession on Laguna Lake with participants riding boats that follow the main Pagoda or floating raft made of bamboo poles that bears the pilgrim image of Saint Clement.

Mayor Calderon, in a message on her Facebook page, clarified that participants to the fluvial parade will be limited to a few residents only and that only those whose houses are along the lakeshore villages are allowed to witness the annual tradition from their homes.

Vice Mayor Gerardo Calderon said although the festivities have resumed this year, strict health protocols will still be observed at all times to ensure that the gatherings will not result in the spread of COVID-19, “Hindi pa po ito ang normal na pyesta. Bawal pa pong ipangumbida (This is not yet the normal fiesta. Inviting visitors is still prohibited),” Vice Mayor Calderon said.

Brass band concerts were held every night in the town plaza and inside the Diocesan Shrine and Parish of Saint Clement as part of the festivities.

The fluvial parade will take place on November 23 right after the morning Holy Mass with the residents dousing water on parade participants.

President Duterte, through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, has declared November 23, Tuesday, as a special non-working day in Angono, Rizal.