A celebration of fruits of labor. A celebration of nature’s gifts. A celebration of a town’s products. A celebration of a town’s origins. A myriad of reasons to celebrate in one place. We were fortunate enough to be in the town of Nagcarlan, Laguna on the last day of its annual Ana Kalang Festival. Its origin would be clearer to you, dear reader, as you read about it straight from the town administration’s descriptions.
"Laguna’s First Non-religious Festival
Every third Wednesday of April to the ensuing Sunday, Nagcarlan throws its doors wide open for everyone to partake of all the mirth and excitement that come with the celebration of the Ana Kalang Festival. It is during this time of the year when Nagcarlan showcases its unique folk arts whose leitmotif is the use of dried indigenous materials and displays its great potentials as the Vegetable Basket of Laguna, or even the Vegetable Bowl of Southern Tagalog.
Throughout the celebration, giant statues called kalang-kalang and replicas of old structures known as arko, all beautifully crafted from indigenous materials, are put on display around the municipal compound. Every nook and corner is decorated with fresh farm produce, while the biggest hall of the Municipal Building is filled with a wide array of antique furnitures, images, and all sorts of precious wares borrowed from prominent families of the town.
Originally held in the first week of October to coincide with the peak of lanzones harvest, this 25-year old festival traces its beginnings in 1987 with the successful holding of the first Lanzones Festival, which was replicated in October 1988. In 1989, however, the sudden drop in lanzones harvest necessitated the renaming of the celebration, and the organizers’ unanimous choice was Ana Kalang Festival – in honor of the woman who figures in the legend that tells how the town of Nagcarlan got its name. Because October has become a stormy month in recent years, the local government, upon consultation with stakeholders, has decided since 2008 to move the celebration to April, when local fruits and vegetable are most abundant and weather conditions are most favorable."- Source: http://nagcarlan.gov.ph/events/ana-kalang-festival
What makes the kalang-kalang and the town’s Presidencia replicas really good to look at is their artistic use of easily obtained natural materials. It’s a celebration that’s not so pompous yet maintains a festive atmosphere.