The town of Sibagat, Agusan del Sur earned praises with the revival of the bamboo rafts locally known as gakit not only as a means of transportation but a trailblazing outdoor sport and a creative expression of the locals living alongside the Sibagat River—nourished by hills and plains surrounding it, and called by the natives “giver of life”.
I was privileged to watch the Gakit fluvial parade initiated by the local government of Sibagat, one of the highlights during its 40th founding anniversary on February 2.
The “gakit” revival is to honor and acknowledge their indigenous ancestors who settled there and helped shaped it into a just and bustling community. The special day is a reflection of unity and an act of looking forward of all sectors with respect to responsible environment and cultural sustainability.
“Ay kabibo! Mura sila’g nagduladula (Such fun.They are like playing a children’s game),” I overheard an old woman sitting beside me.
She was applauding an elderly woman danced with gusto before a cheering crowd in the middle of the newly-built raft. She easily stole the show. Other “gakiteers” were teenage boys dressed as Manobo baganis (tribal warriors) and families displaying fruits and vegetables. Flags and colors decorate the bamboo poles.
The audience composed of Lumad leaders, local government executives, officials of national and regional line agencies and local tourists.
They sat on the river bank facing a huge open wooden grandstand, where dozen gakits sailed away to the cheers and excitement of the crowd. The audience erupted in laughter when a raft manned by two men broke into two as they gamely swam away and back.
“Nice gimmick!” the crowd teased.
The atmosphere and excitement can only summarize the famous slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” The gakit parade proved it.
Photo courtesy of Bagat Sibagat