Halad sa Sto Niño
You know it when Halad festival is around the corner it is when you see colorful signs and sponsor banner hang or posted all over the mainstreet of Midsayap and buntings hang in every corner of Midsayap.
“Kaleidoscope buntings crisscross along the streets and psychedelic poles with narrow strips of multi-colored cloth adorn the highway.” as one of the visitors wrote somewhere.
“Halad” is a term from Cebuano and Ilonggo language which means “offering”, and “Halad sa Sto. Niño” means “Offering to Sto. Nino”. Halad Festival in Midsayap is done every third Sunday of Junuary in honor of Midsayap Patron Saint: Sto. Niño, and on this day all townsfolk celebrate the Patronal Fiesta too.
Pit Senor! Hala Bira! – will be the most common phrase throughout the festivities and to all devotees of Sto Niño.
Halad Festival is a street dancing display of beautiful tapestry of colors, ingeniously crafted native costumes and props where it is participated by groups and calling themselves as tribes; with participants hitting drums in rhythm of “Pit Señor! Hala Bira!” while the tribe is shouting in the background; variety of native instruments included; Actually, this is a very loud and noisy festival with lots of fun!
Pit señor! Hala Bira!
Halad street dancing usually starts at 7 o’clock in the morning at Crossing, Midsayap, plus the parade entourage of floats and other participating organization and that could last all morning parade, then followed by the competition showcase of tribe street dancers which is usually held at Notre Dame of Midsayap College grounds.
Halad is a big event in Midsayap, where the mainstreet are closed to any vehicle, buses and public transport are rerouted, you will see a lot of people walking and scattered throughout Midsayap, delicacy peddlers of salted peanuts, candies and sweets, corn and banana barbecue, ice drop, homemade ice cream, green mango in vinegar, santol and fruits and big names like Jollibee mobile, dunkin donuts, mister donuts join too and you can tell how much people went to the event is by the trash scattered on the streets following day; “it’s a mess of beauty”, but Midsayap local goverbnment is good at sending street sweepers.
Halad is well participated by tribes in Cotabato and sorrounding Provinces to try to get the prize money and an opportunity to participate in National Street Dancing event. To date two participants from Halad won a national street dancing competition first is the Eramis Clan and the other is the Alamada National High School tribe.
It all started in 1988, when REACT Philippines Midsayap Chapter started the Halad Festival, it was so successful that it became a yearly event until today and recognized by DOT as one major festival.
Among the highlights of Halad and Midsayap Town Fiesta event are the carnivals (Peryahan still exist to this day and usually starts from december to January), cultural shows, novena, processions, trade fairs, weekend Motocross, traditional competition and activities of all sorts, concerts and of course the street dancing competition called “Halad sa Sto. Nino” competition, and the fiesta is not a celebration without the food; So it is also a tradition most households to prepare food and that’s the very reason why food is everywhere, and usually when you’re in town you’re invited to eat in someones’ house. I can still remember way back when I was in high school we usually count how many houses we eat at and visit, and it was always a blast back then, especially with classmates around. This is also the time where family get together to celebrate in their homes to welcome family members who have been away for awhile and visiting friends.
Don’t you know that Midsayap has a festive mood all year, and the big fun usually starts on November 25 the Midsayap Foundation day, and the Christmas for December, then the New Year, then the Fiesta and Halad Festival by 3rd weekend of January, then the Valentines by February and the Graduation by March courtesy of students and colleges. From time to time all the 52 Barrios of Midsayap has their own fiesta day too, this means fun and food again all year.