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History of Paray Festival in Irosin, Sorsogon

Me in Barangay Carriedo, Irosin 

Irosin Paray Festival

I am a proud Irosinian by heart and blood. Even though I now call Manila as my home for the last 15 years, I will never forget Irosin as my dear hometown. One of my fond memories every fiesta celebration way, way back is to celebrate the Paray Festival in Irosin and the commemoration of Saint Michael the Archangel, our town's beloved patron saint every last week of September. 

Irosin is dubbed as the rice granary of Sorsogon province. As a landlocked municipality, I spent my childhood visiting the rice fields of my grandparents and my dear mother who is turning 60 in a few months from now is spending most of her senior years learning the art of planting rice from a small lot she inherited from her parents.  With a backdrop of Bulusan volcano and along the national highway in Tulay, Bagsangan watching the golden sunset every afternoon there is a magical experience. 

paray festival irosin sorsogon

Now that I am far away from home - missing my family and all that I found myself googling anything about the treasures of Irosin. From its history to what  it is today, I realized it is time that it should shine in its own way. We have no beach but we have rice fields that are slowly fading away since farming is NO LONGER the millennials of today would like to pursue. I When I reach my senior years, I also look forward do rice planting.

The town of Irosin was formerly called Pueblo de Yrocin. Gobernador General Domingo Muriones y Morillo gave this name on November 3, 1879. Therefore, it is very interesting to know that Irosin actually celebrates its foundation month on NOVEMBER not SEPTEMBER. This 2023, Irosin will be celebrating the 144th anniversary foundation.

On top of a hill of rice brans in Barangay Bagsangan, Irosin
The celebration of the Irosin Fiesta is already next week so I googled a bit to get updated of what's happening but I am surprised not much has been written. I know from time to time, students and Irosanons who are already based somewhere would be somehow interested to look back about the beginnings of our town's most awaited events.  

I posted a short message via Facebook about where to find this information and one Samaritan who is a schoolmate of mine came to the rescue. Her name is Shiela Marie Gestole Perez who is working  in the local office of Irosin. She gave me this document below which she said is from the archives of LGU Irosin. Thus, I would like to credit the local government of Irosin as the official source of this information.  

irosin paray festival
Credit to my sister Juliet

History of Irosin's Paray Festival

Paray Festival was first introduced in 2001 under the administration of the former Mayor Lilia Gonzales. Before this, there's Hin-ay Festival introduced by another former Mayor, Dr. Eddie Dorotan.

The word "paray” is an Irosinian variation for the Bicol “paroy” or the tagalog “palay” which means rice grains. Paray Festival is thus celebrated for its dual symbolism: it aptly depicts the municipality of Irosin as the rice granary of the province of Sorsogon and at the same time a celebration for bountiful harvest which would normally commence in the last week of September, coinciding with the celebration of the patronal feast of St. Michael the Archangel, the patron saint of the local parish church. 

irosin fiesta paray festival sorsogon
Credit to my sister Juliet

Paray Festival of Irosin is divided into three themes: 

1. Harvest Festival

September, the month of Paray Festival, is the start of the rice harvest for the wet planting season. As the primary food crop of the municipality, rice plays a central role in the lives of Irosinians. The municipality is in fact considered as the rice granary of the province of Sorsogon and the municipality’s rice production surpasses its rice requirement and surplus production is exported to its neighboring towns and provinces. The harvest Festival therefore reaffirms the productivity of Irosin’s agricultural lands in providing sustenance to many rice farming households. Additionally, the festivities also brings increased economic activity in the locality and hence, abundance. 

2. Viva San Miguel Street Dancing  

In Christian tradition, St. Michael the Archangel symbolizes power of the good over evil. This is a recurring theme in Paray Festival activities. In the war between the good ad the evil, St. Michael the Archangel is heralded as a great warrior who fought against Satan, his nemesis, whom he victoriously sent to hell. The festival therefore is a celebration of the triumph of the good over evil and is a continuing reminder for Irosinians to always follow the good and renounce the evil. St. Michael’s victory is celebrated and his continued Intercession and protection from evil is earnestly prayed for. 

3. Cultural and Sports

The month-long Paray Festival also serves as venue for the promotion of local heritage and culture and sports development. Cultural events that showcase local talents, sports and recreational activities are in Integrated into the festival. As a corollary of these three thees, paray Festival engages and promotes multi-sectoral participation in all its activities. Different organizations, schools, barangays, and sectors of the municipality are involved and committed from the initial planning down to the implementations of minutes details of the festival activities. Hence, Paray Festival serves as the reaffirmation of the unity of Irosinians as a community and at the same time, as a relevant renewal of their commitment to the common good.

Irosin Paray Fiesta Sorsogon
Credit to my sister Juliet


Other Rice festivals in the Philippines

1. Pahiyas Festival in Lucban celebrated in the month of May. 

FYI. The MOST FAMOUS of all. Houses are decorated with “kiping” or rice wafer.

Click HEREE to read my personal experience about it years ago.

2. Ani Festival in Dingras, Ilocos Norte celebrated every March. 

FYI. Dingras is the rice granary of Ilocos

3. Bakle ad Nagacadan in Kiangan, Ifugao celebrated every September.

4. Paroy Festival in Libon, Albay celebrated every July. 

FYI. Libon is the rice granary of Albay

5. Palay Festival in Narra, Palawan celebrated every October

6. Palay Festival in Rizal, Nueva Ecija celebrated every April 

7. Panagyaman Rice Festival in Nueva Vizcaya celebrated every April

8. Gintong Palay Harvest Festival in Pulilan, Bulacan celebrated every November

9. Sinanggiyaw Festival in Dumanju, Cebu celebrated every March. 

FYI. Sinanggi means abundance of harvests and sayaw means dance

10. Mannalon Festival in Marcos, Ilocos Norte celebrated every March

11. Pasalamat Festival in La Carlota City, Negros Occidental celebrated every May

12. Agawan sa Sariaya Fiesta in Sariaya, Quezon celebrated every May

FYI.  Every house prepares “binakle” or rice cake and “baya” or rice wine. 

13. Pagdiwata in Tagbanua, Palawan celebrated every December

Credits to Irosin History and Culture as source mainly for this blog post. This was originally published in 2018.

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