Guling-Guling ushers in Lenten

PAOAY, Ilocos Norte, Feb. 17  — Expect a taste of tradition as town folks mark the annual Guling-guling festival, a local version of mardi gras.
     Mardi gras is French for Fat Tuesday, referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday.
     In this town, Guling-guling, which means smearing the forehead with a cross sign, is a yearly pre-Lent tradition that is one of the town’s main attractions, drawing tourists to the event and in the process, breath life to a centuries-old industry – the “Inabel” or loom-woven fabric.
     Loom weaving, which was passed on by town folks’ ancestors, has remained a principal livelihood in this town. Loom weavers have formed cooperatives to sustain the industry.
     Guling was derived from an Ilocano word that means to mark, smear or make a sign.
     In the past, the chieftain (now mayor) would imprint the sign of the cross on a person’s forehead using wet, white rice flour to signify purity.
 Townsfolk believe that through the imprint, a person is cleansed from all his past sins.
     The four-day celebration begins with the opening of a trade fair today to showcase the town’s homegrown products from Inabel, chicaron, handcrafted clay products, cash crops from garlic and onions and Ilocanos’ staple food bagnet and longganiza.
     Other events lined up include cultural and pageant shows, a competition for the best decorated house embodying the festival concept, parades and a food fair featuring the Ilocano ricecake” dudol.”
     The festival’s highlight will be the dance parade on February 21. Garbed in elaborately-tailored Inabel clothes,  ordinary folks and the town’s officials led by Mayor Bonifacio Clemente will sway to the beat of folk music and dance their way to the streets leading to the world icon Paoay Church.
     To cap the event, a Guling-guling dance showdown will bring out the towns’ best dancing talents. (ANL/CCA-PIA 1 Ilocos Norte)