The Negros Chronicle is a weekly publication published in Negros Oriental province, Philippines, vigilantly featuring the latest news updates around Dumaguete City and Negros Oriental since 1973.
Every July 24th commemorates the historic Saulog Festival of Tanjay City.

Marked with a flurry of colors and contagious, rhythmic drum beats, it is no doubt that this annual festival has never failed to draw in more and more tourists from all parts of the island.

But exactly what are the dancers and what does the choreography tell about Tanjay's semi-forgotten history? I guess, to better explain that would be a write up I procured from the Tanjay City Government.

It has been a story told and retold along the islands of the Philippines. More than three centuries ago, the Spaniards dropped anchor on the eastern coast of Negros with the goal of turning the place into a a018 seat of religious expedition.' The Augustinian friars were the ones who brought the Christian Faith to the coasts of Tanjay, christianizing the natives in the name of St. James the Greater as patron saint.

Only then was Tanjay recognized as the first Spanish settlement parish of Negros Oriental. Yet even before the coming of the Spaniards, Tanjay was regularly frequented by Moro vintas or a018pangkos.' These sea crafts were a source of fear for the natives as such Moro pirates had a knack in seizing the village belles. Because of such events, watch towers were built alongside coasts and an alarm was sounded when the vinta sails would emerge from the horizon.

It happened that the sound of the reverberating sound of the bodjong awakened the Tanjayanons at the crack of dawn. The Moro vintas were fast approaching, aided by the wind. Warriors gathered by the shore, poised to attack while the other villagers fled for their lives.

Because the Tanjayanons knew they were quite outnumbered, they called on their patron saint to aid them in battle. Strange enough, the Moro pirates never docked on the shores of Tanjay. According to the nearby towns, the Moro pirates found it rather impossible to do so considering that they allegedly saw hundreds of soldiers flanked by the crashing waves led by a robust man bearing a glinting blade on a white horse.
The incident strengthened the people's faith in their saint and from then on, the Saulog was celebrated by the local folks in memory of the divine help of Saint James the Greater.

Tanjay's rich history...

But then, little much is known about the Tanjay before the coming of the Spaniards. And, thanks to the Archaeological research done by Dr. Laura Lee Junker from 1985 to 2005 and previously by Dr. Karl Hutterer from 1979 to 1982, we may be able to get a glimpse of what life was like for the typical Tanjayanon more than just a few centuries ago.

According to excavations done within the municipal center, it was known that at around 500 A.D, Tanjay became the humble home of handfuls of rice-growing farmers and traders who thrived mostly on the agricultural bounties of the land. At around 1000 A.D, it was found that in fact, wealthy datus or chiefs ruled Tanjay. These chiefs, according to archaeological findings, maintained business relations with foreign merchants based from the Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese porcelain that were uncovered as well as the bronze and iron curios that were unearthed.

Aside from the fact that the Tanjayanons observed a varied diet of rice, chicken, fish, even monkeys, civet cats, deer, reptiles, fruits and vegetables, the pre-Hispanic inhabitants of Tanjay practiced animal sacrifice to please the gods and to seal important relations such as high-rank marriages, war send-offs, or the coming of royal visitors.

Based from Ms. Debra Green's findings, the Tanjay River was vital to the people of Tanjay as this did not only serve as their main source of water but more so, this was where most business transactions took place. Metal goods, food items, textiles, porcelain, and the like were traded along the bank of the Tanjay River thus making it a bustling little place at certain times of the year when merchants came.

Porcelain, among other things was of great importance in sealing relationships. These were used to seal marriages between uniting families as well as alliances between one chiefdom to another.

Yet the Tanjayanons did not bask in the glory of peace all their lives. They did have their share of blood, gore, and even a few decapitated heads. One of Junker's findings was that the pre-Hispanic Tanjayanons crossed swords with numerous outsidersa014and mind you, these weren't just playful duels. Burials have been discovered next to the remains of ancient pile houses showing signs that the people back then met gruesome ends. One male burial contained an iron blade through the ribs while others suffered major head injuries.

These may only be a glimpse of Tanjay way before any of us were ever born but this only goes to show that even back then, the people in this part of the globe cannot be outdone.

Ang Bud-bud sa Tanjay...

Apart from its varied agricultural boons as coconut, sugar, and rice, Tanjay City boasts of a mouthwatering delicacy that's sure to satisfy anyone's sweet tooth. In fact, it's one of the reasons why people just can't get enough of Oriental Negros' very own City of Lights.

When one hears of the famous budbud, one cannot help but think of Tanjay City. And all of a sudden, more vivid images of tender rolls of glutinous rice mixed with sugar and coconut milk and streaked with tsokolate coupled with ripe mangoes take form in the mind.

For those of us who frequent Tanjay, it's not surprising to see that visitors are always treated with rolls of budbud by their hosts. In fact, the Tanjayanon's hospitality extends further as the guest will always be given more budbud to take home for the family, thus endearing the Tanjayonon even more.

But after consuming these banana-leaf-wrapped goodies, one always goes back to the basic question: what makes the budbud of Tanjay different from all other types of suman? What makes it uniquely Tanjayanon? Why, in heavens name, does it taste damn good?

The answer doesn't really lie in the ingredients used to make the delicacy, although part of it can be credited to the trade secret of Tanjay's oldest budbud maker, Madam Crescencia Noja Vda. De Castil. But really, what makes the budbud so good and so possessing goes to the maker's passion for the craft of budbud-making. It goes to the maker's deftness and willingness to share a piece of Tanjay to the rest of the island, to the rest of the archipelago, and even to the rest of the world. And really, that inner motivation shows in the quality of the product produced.

Last year opened the first ever celebration of the Budbud Festival in Tanjay and with it, the ceremonial slicing of the biggest budbud, which weighed a whooping 82 kilos. Yet, big or small, the budbud of Tanjay retains the same signature taste that you wouldn't find anywhere else in the world. Chewy, tender, sweeta014it's time to take the first trip to Tanjay City and indulge in this one-of-a-kind pasalubong









© 2005 - The Negros Chronicle - News around Dumaguete City and Negros Oriental, Philippines