TUGUEGARAO CITY—The hottest place in the country has mounted the first-ever fire-themed festival.
Tuguegarao City Mayor Jefferson Soriano said making fire the theme of the weeklong Pav-vurulun (Ybanag for “get-together”) celebration served as a symbol for the people’s “burning desire for change” by turning back to its long history and culture.
“This is our way of giving importance to fire as an element of life and how it has shaped our city and our citizens, both literally and figuratively,” the mayor said.
Soriano was referring to a historical account that the name Tuguegarao was coined from the Ybanag word “tuggui” or fire. Stories say the place where the city center now stands was once “a wilderness that was cleared by fire” through “kaingin” (slash and burn farming).
It is also an allusion to great fires that have engulfed the town center since the 1500s.
We hope that with this festivity, we will establish our own cultural identity as a people of northern Luzon, especially so that Tuguegarao City is not only the capital of Cagayan but also the face of the entire Cagayan Valley as its regional center,” Soriano said.
For years, Tuguegarao has been cited for having the hottest average temperature and the highest temperature in the country’s history (42.2 degrees Celsius on May 11, 1969).
This year’s Pav-vurulun Festival honors the city’s patron, St. Hyacinth, whose feast day falls on Aug. 16.
“This event is centered on spiritual thanksgiving because for the past year, our city has been spared from major natural calamities,” said Soriano, the event’s overall chair
A highlight of the celebration, Soriano said, was the lighting of bamboo torches by 3,100 college students from Cagayan State University early evening on Aug. 8 as part of the kick-off activities.
“This can set a world record in the coming years because based on our research, the current record [for torch lighting] was [made] by 2,000 people,” Soriano said.
Organizers used citronella oil instead of kerosene to ignite the torches as a safety precaution.
With the City Hall grounds in Barangay (village) Carig now being used as the center for most activities, this year’s festivity was a new experience for Tuguegarao residents like Miguel Pamittan, who is used to witnessing the annual Pav-vurulun activities at the city’s center.
“The venue is now more spacious and can easily accommodate thousands of Tuguegarao residents and visitors without the usual hassles of traffic congestion. It also provides good vantage points for the audience,” he said.
Aside from the torch lighting, revelers also witnessed the traditional boat race along 500 meters of Pinacanauan River and the “parade of bounties” that features the products of 49 villages in Tuguegarao.