The Province of Tawi-Tawi is considered as the biggest producer of Seaweed Powder in the country. Because of its significance to the livelihood of the people and the economy of the Province, one grand celebration is made every year as tribute to its great value. This is the Agal-agal Festival which is said to be the only Seaweed Festival in the country. It is derived from the word Agal-Agal which is the local term for seaweed in the Sulu Archipelago.
The staging of AGAL-AGAL FESTIVAL coincides with the Kamahardikaan Sin Tawi-Tawi or the Founding Anniversary of the Province which happens every 25th of September. This year, the celebration was held in the town of Languyan, one of the 11 towns of Tawi-Tawi.
Agal-Agal Festival shows how the community value the importance of the seaweed industry which has been part of their living. Being a Province composed of island towns surrounded by vast seas, Tawi-Tawi is endowed with rich marine and aquatic resources. The celebration also reflects these rich bounties of the sea that Tawi-Tawi takes so much pride of.
The festival features the rich culture and traditions of the Sama, Badjau, Jama Mapun and Tausug who peacefully and harmoniously live in the Province – colourful cultures and admirable traditions that are still lived and practiced to this day.
In this year’s edition of Agal-Agal Festival, 9 out of the 11 municipalities of the province participated in the street dancing competition and showdown. Each contingent showcased their well-rehearsed and choreographed dances and performances in their most elegant traditional costumes, colourful props, and upbeat traditional music that reflect the rich culture of their town. Pangalay which is a traditional dance of the Sulu Archipelago is greatly incorporated in their graceful performances.
I have been to a number of festivals in the Philippines. In Mindanao, I have covered some of the most significant festivals that the Island boasts. And just when I thought these festivals are becoming to look all the same, Agal-Agal Festival offered me a different festival experience – a different vibe incomparable to the other festivals I have witnessed in the country.
To be here in this southernmost part of the Philippines witnessing such spectacular festival is truly an honor. Given a chance, I shall come back and again relish another Agal-Agal Festival experience!