Cebu, City Cebu – The province of Lanao del Norte more widely known here in the Queen City of the South as “Land of Beauty and Bounty” bested 15 other contingents as they were declared as First Place winner in the recently concluded Sinulog Festival.

This is the eight straight appearance of Team Lanao del Norte in the Free Interpretation category which is regarded by many as the most competitive category of the Festival.

“The concept of Lanao del Norte is very unique and very timely. The dancers were also able to beautifully interpret it on the main stage. This was the main reason why the judges gave them the win”, explained Sinulog Foundation Head Ricky Ballesteros.

The Lanao del Norte contingent showcased its “Sagayan” dance. Sagayan is a Maranao war dance performed to ward off evil spirits. The dancers of the contingent performed a modernized version of the Darangen, a Maranao epic story, depicting two warring groups that were eventually reconciled and united by Bai-A-Labi who succeeded in bringing lasting peace.

“The presentation was the brainchild of Governor Dimaporo who wanted to show everyone the importance of unity in achieving lasting peace. He wanted to show that peace is still attainable despite differences in culture, ethnic background and religion. All we need is love and respect”, explained Information Office Lyndon Calica.

Aside from the victory in the Sinulog Grand Showdown, the “Land of Beauty and Bounty” also received the coveted Best in Costume” award.

“This is a big, big bonus for our contingent and for also for me since this is my last year as Governor of the province. I am truly thankful to the Sinulog organizers, to the Lanao del Norte Sanggunian Panlalawigan, to the parents of the dancers, to our organizing committee, to our dedicated dancers who really gave it their all in the grandstage and to everyone who supported the Lanao del Norte contingent for the past eight years”, expressed Governor Khalid Dimaporo.

Another major award given to Lanao del Norte is “Best in Musicality”.  The unique beat and music of Lanao del Norte which also featured a Maranao music segment was performed by the Brothers Classic.

Governor Khalid Dimaporo together with Provincial Tourism Head Minda Regis accepted the awards and prizes during the repeat performance and awarding of festival winners at the Abellana National School  grandstage on January 18, 2016.

Lanao del Norte Vice-Governor Cristy Atay, Kapatan Vice-Mayor Perlito Gonzaga, together with members of the Sanggunian Panlalawigan and Kapatagan Sanggunian Bayan also accompanied the contingent as they danced around the 7.2 kilometer route for the street dancing competition.

Dancers of the contingent are composed of public school students from Bansarvil National High School of the coastal town of Kapatagan.

The chief choreographer of the “Land of Beauty and Bounty” contingent is Mark Eric Debalucos.

Lanao del Norte group was led by Diana Therese Mejorada who is also the reigning Ms. Lanao del Norte.

Other winners in the Free Interpretation category include Tribu Catbalogan (2nd place), Buyogan Festival (3rd Place), Tribu Himag-ulaw (4th Place), and Lumad Basakanon (5th Place).  VNL/PIO-LDN