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It was a fiesta like no other. Last May 10, more than 5,000 people from around Ilocos Norte gathered amid the picturesque Paoay Sand Dunes in Paoay, Ilocos Norte, to take part in “Himala sa Buhangin!,” a festival dedicated to the celebration of music and the arts.
The festival is held in honor of La Virgen Milagrosa, the patroness of the province of Ilocos Norte. The sand dunes was where Nora Aunor’s iconic movie “Himala” was shot. But instead of repeating Aunor’s famous words, “Walang himala” (there are no miracles), everyone was encouraged to say the opposite, “May himala!”
Taking a cue from Burning Man, an arts festival set in the Nevada Desert, the fiesta featured abaca and bamboo sculptures by artists Leeroy New and the Gerilya Artists Collective, the biggest of which, New’s “Chrysalis,” represented the galleon that brought the statue of La Virgen Milagrosa to Ilocos Norte. Festival goers lounged in tents set up in front of a stage under the biggest sculpture.
Instead of the usual speeches, the mayors of different Ilocos Norte towns treated the people to a belly dancing contest, a refreshing way of getting local government heads involved in the festivites.
There were musical performances by Wolfgang and Up Dharma Down, as well as by local band Better Than Noise and other Manila-based acts Powerpuff Corn, Hidden Nikki, and Sleepwalk Circus.
The dunes offered other entertainment as well, with Zorb rides, sandcastle building, and 4x4 leisure driving as some of the activities offered on the day of the event.
The highlight of the festival was the burning of three of New’s installations, each a beautiful blaze that reached toward the dark desert sky.
Himala sa Buhangin was organized in line with Gov. Imee Marcos’ “Paoay Kumakaway” tourism campaign and aims to promote Paoay, and Ilocos Norte, as a prime tourist destination in the Philippines. –KG, GMA News