Bangsi (the festival) flying high

MAITUM, Sarangani – The idyllic municipality of Maitum was certainly jovial as it celebrates one of the town’s major festivities, the 8th Bangsi Festival.

The “bangsi”, a local term for the flying fish (Family Exocoetidae), is the prized catch (aside from tuna) of Maitum fisher folk and the very reason for the celebration of Bangsi Festival.

The fete, which officially started Wednesday (January 28) until the 31st, showcases the bountiful wealth of the waters of Celebes Sea and beyond through different activities.

During events in Mabay Beach, Mayor Pepito Catimbang welcomed everyone to the festival as he noticed the ubiquitous flow of tourists in the town.

Some of these visitors are foreigners while many are from the neighboring regions of General Santos City, Davao City, and  Australia, Germany and Italy. Their presence proves that the Bangsi Festival is gaining momentum as a must-sought fest here in Sarangani.

Mabay Beach was filled with fun and shrieks from the crowd as Vice Mayor Jane Ablog and Councilors Josefina Marasigan and Mariel Luna performed a smooth “aloha dance.”

Spectators also locked their attention in the “Pakas Bangsi Preparation Contest”, a game in which 10 participants tried to outclass each other in the proper slicing and cleaning of the bangsi.

The sea of Mabay became a competitive ground of boaters as the Bankarera (motorboat race) and Lumba Bugsay (boat rowing race) was held successively.

The Coast Guard was in constant lookout to secure the safety of the participants of these exciting water races.

Other activities held were the Barangay Aloha Dance Competition, Sand Sculpting, and the Mass Zumba.

The longest Bangsi grill will be held Friday (January 30) and will serve as the highlight of the 8th Bangsi Festival which starts with a program at 8am.

Maitum is one of the seven municipalities of Sarangani Province.

Sarangani is the home of diversified and colourful festivals such as Munato Festival and Lubi-Lubi Festival.

Sarangani Province is also famous for its rollicking summer beach party every May at the shores of Gumasa, the SarBay Festival.

SarBay Fest is the biggest party here in Mindanao, if not, in the entire Philippines.

Aside from Bangsi Festival, another celebration that Maitum hosts is the Binuyugan every May.

By the way, flying fish are ray-finned fish with highly modified pectoral fins. Despite their name, flying fish aren’t capable of powered flight. Instead, they propel themselves out of the water at speeds in excess of 35 miles per hour. Once in the air, their rigid “wings” allow them to glide for up to 200 meters.

Their streamlined bodies reduce drag when the fish are “flying.”

Flying fish are up to 18 inches long but average 7 to 12 inches.

When marinated and half dried, flying fish taste best when fried and dipped in suka with sili. (MAITUM INFORMATION OFFICE)

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