The Sublian Festival is thus far the biggest annual festivity in Batangas City, the capital city of Batangas. Mainly religious in origin, the highlight of the two-week long festival is the subli dance, a worship dance of the Holy Cross.
Initiated by then Mayor Eduardo Dimacuha in 1988, Sublian is now on its 28th year and its theme is Sublian Festival: May Panibagong Sigla! Its culminating celebration is traditionally slated every July 23, to coincide with the city’s founding anniversary date. Not only did Sublian provide life and color to the customary celebration of cityhood; it also revives the cultural and religious practice of subli among the Batagueños. This year, Batangas City is celebrating its 47th year of cityhood.
Subli and the seniors: No Batagueño is too old to dance subli.
Sublian came from the word subli, a combination of the words subsub, a Tagalog word, which means falling on the head, or being in a stooped or crouching position; and bali, a Tagalog word, which means broken or bent. Subli is a worship dance of and for the Holy Cross that has origins in the Catholic faith. It is a celebration of the discovery of the Holy Cross in Alitagtag, a town in the Batangas province during the Spanish time. The Spanish missionaries first came to Batangas in 1572. The dance traces its roots roots to the people’s devotion to the Holy Cross in Bauan and Agoncillo, and the Sto. Nino in Batangas City. Whereas Batangas City observes the Sublian festival every July, it is held every May in Bauan and Agoncillo.
The Sublian Festival showcases components of the Filipino culture that usually do not go beyond school book knowledge. The festival has evolved to more than about the subli dance as it also features the traditional harana (serenade), lupakan (making and sharing of a delicacy called nilupak), sayawan (dancing), and awitan (singing), among others.
Sublian sa Kalye is a display of customs, costumes and colors.
The traditional subli consists of a sequence of prayers in verse, songs, and dances performed in a fixed sequence to the accompaniment of drums. The movements in the dance are prominent. The male dancers with their kalaste, or bamboo or wooden clappers (similar to Spanish castanets) are leaping and striking the ground with kalaste. The female dancers, dressed in small-brimmed hats and alampay (scarf) loosely worn over the shoulder, are on half-toe while they dance in graceful wrists and finger movements.
Harana or serenade is a customary form of courtship where men woo maidens through singing love songs by the window at night. In Sublian, harana happens in the house of the chosen Ms. Batangas Foundation Day. This year, it will be held at house of Ms. Batangas Foundation Day 2016, Ms. Jewel Mari Beredo.
Awitan in Sublian is mostly about Kundiman and Filipino songs.
Lupakan is the making and sharing of a snack called nilupak commonly held in the house of the the lupakan host (the one sponsoring the lupakan). Lupakan is a traditional bonding activity long before singing in videokes, hanging out in cafes, and malling became popular pastimes as of late. In lupakan, friends (usually male and female) partner together in mixing and pounding the nilupak. Nilupak is a local delicacy a traditional Filipino merienda (snack) favorite, which can be made either from saba (a variety of banana) or kamoteng kahoy (cassava). The banana or cassava is combined with margarine and condensed milk through pounding in a large mortar (lusong or bayuhan) using a pestle (pambayo). For Sublian, the lupakan is held at the patio of Basilica de Immaculada Concepcion.
The Sublian Festival will conclude on July 23 with a thanksgiving mass at Batangas City Convention Center, followed by the singing of the National Anthem, pledge of allegiance to the Philippine Flag ande floral offering at Plaza Mabini, also known as People’s Park, by Mayor Beverly Dimacuha, and Ms. Batangas City Foundation Day 2016 Jewel Mari Beredo.
Batangueños display their dance and devotion to the Holy Cross.
The Sublian Festival will culminate with the parade of the Holy Cross (Sta. Cruz) and Sto. Niño that are lodged in Basilica de Immaculada Concepcion. Among the participants are government employees, non-government organizations, schools, socio-civic organizations, the private sector, and interested groups dressed in native costumes with subli hats. Traditionally, the Sublian parade is held in the major streets of the city, starting from the SM Hypermarket and ending in Batangas City Hall.
After the parade, the Holy Cross and Sto. Niño will be returned to Basilica de Immaculada Concepcion in the afternoon which will be followed by the Patimpalak sa Sublian (Sublian Contest).
The Sto. Niño, along with the Holy Cross, is at the centerpiece of Sublian celebration.
Prior to the July 23 celebration, other Sublian-related activities have been conducted. Among them were the Papuon ng Lungsod ng Batangas where devotees from the seven parishes of Batangas gathered to pay homage to the patron saints through lua (religious declamation), dalit (religious poems), religious songs such as Rosario Cantada, and prayers like Oratio Imperata. Also held was street clean up, Sayaw Sigaw Pangkalikasan or environmental cheer dance competition; and Low Emission Development Strategies or LEDS Eco-Camp for environment advocates and enthusiasts. Entertainments events were also held like Harana at the house of Ms. Batangas City Foundation Day; Patimpalak kay Apolinario Mabini (contest for Apolinario Mabini); a Batangueño war hero, to commemorate his 152th birthday on July 22; Patimpalak sa Katutubong Awit (Contest on Native or Kundiman songs); and Patimpalak sa Katutubong Sayaw (Contest on Native Dances) featuring Jota Batangueña or Alitaptap dance, and Jota Rizal.
Wondering what else to do in Batangas City while attending Sublian?
Batangas City is one-and one-half-hour drive from Manila through the Alabang-Calamba-Sto. Tomas Expressway (ACTEX) and Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR). However, it is a two-hour drive through the old inter-town route. It is also accessible and convenient to commuters as most buses take the ACTEX and STAR routes.
A tour of the Batangas City can be done in a day as most of the sites that are worthvisiting adjacent to each other. While in the city, you can check out Basilica de Immaculada Concepcion, which is known for its Renaissance-inspired architecture, man-made parks such as Plaza Mabini and Laurel Parks, the Batangas Provincial Capitol, and the Acosta-Pastor, Rosales-Borbon and Babasaancestral houses found in the side streets of the city.
If the weather is suitable, a visit to the beaches in Isla Verde, which can be reached by boat is recommended. For a panoramic view of the city and Batangas Bay, Mt. Banoy and Matoco Point in Barangay Pagkilatan are the places to visit.
Gotong Batangas (From I Heart Batangas 2)
A visit to Batangas City will not be complete without eating the signature dishes of Batangas: bulalo
(bone marrow soup with beef shank), lomi
(thick egg noodle soup), and gotong
Batangas (tripe and innards soup). These are available anywhere and most restaurants
in the city serve them. The following restaurants are the most popular and most–frequented by both locals and tourists for the aforementioned dishes: Irene’s Bulalosa Kubo (Alangilan, Batangas City), Tia Ila’s Lomilicious (Pallocan West, Batangas City); Mega Lomiaus (Mega Heights Subdivision, Alangilan, Batangas City); Enya’s Lomi at (Vergara St., Poblacion, Batangas City); MGM Lomi (Pallocan West, in front of Days Hotel near SM City Batangas); Megalicious (Balagtas, Batangas, near SM Hypermart); Emjaykas (Balagtas, Batangas, near SM Hypermart); and Jhorjanes (Balagtas, Batangas City, near the very end of the Batangas exit of the Star Tollway, and Bolbok, Batangas City, the other in front of the Batangas Sports Complex).