LEGENDARY ANIMAL: Town grieves death of carabao hailed as Pasungay festival icon

Residents of San Joaquin in Iloilo province mourn the death of Tadlang, a legendary icon in the town’s famous “Pasungay” festival or bullfighting which was called off due to pressure from an animal welfare group two years ago. (Photo courtesy of Toto Sanao Facto)

By Emme Rose Santiagudo

Residents of San Joaquin in Iloilo province were saddened by the sudden death of a legendary icon in the town’s famous “Pasungay” festival or bullfighting which was called off due to pressure from an animal welfare group two years ago.

The legendary carabao named “Tadlang” died on May 10, 2020, according to its owner Salvacion Facto.

Facto said Tadlang suddenly stopped eating and has been listless due to old age.

Tadlang’s death brought grief to Facto and her family who treasured the legendary carabao as their own family member.

Ginhibi-an ko gid kang napatay tana kay duro man ang nabulig na kanamon. Nangin parte man tana kang amon pamilya,” she said, adding that she even lit a candle when Tadlang passed away.

Her husband, Calixto Facto Sr. shared that Tadlang brought so much pride in their family and to their barangay for being a famous champion of the Pasungay festival.
Kada sungay gadaog. Halin sa banwa pagkadto sa iban nga barangayan kag dangat sa Dao, Antique gadaog tana. Wara ti may makontra kana,” Calixto told Daily Guardian.

Aside from being a champion, Tadlang also assisted Calixto in the farm to provide for his family.

At the age of 35, Tadlang died as the undisputed champion of Pasungay having won the crown 17 times.

Calixto recalled the last fight of Tadlang in January 2017 where the bull also emerged as the champion.

In 2019, Calixto and all the other carabao owners in San Joaquin never got the chance to participate in the much-anticipated Pasungay festival after it was cancelled due to claims of animal cruelty by the Animal Kingdom Foundation (AKF).

One of the town’s SB Member, Joe Abad Lazaro Jr. was also saddened by the death of the legendary carabao.

When the town cancelled Pasungay festival in January 2019, Lazaro said the local government opted to hold a simpler program to commemorate Tadlang as the bearer of the town’s local custom.

Board Member Marcelo Valentine Serag and the local government of San Joaquin headed by Mayor Ninfa Garin bestowed a plaque of honor to Tadlang for being the testament of hard work of the San Joaquinhon farming community.

“Tadlang has been part of our culture. Tadlang is one of the many carabaos and bulls in San Joaquin pero tana nakatao kang exceptional and legendary achievement. Somehow, Tadlang reflects ang bugana nga kasapatan sa banwa kag pagpalangga sa kasapatan which is all ultimately represented in Pasungay,” Lazaro said.

In 2020, Garin decided to cancel the Pasungay festival for the second time in a row.

Animal welfare groups alleged that Pasungay festival violated the Amended Animal Welfare Act.

According to Lazaro, the death of Tadlang will serve as an inspiration to the local government of San Joaquin to continue its fight for the comeback of Pasungay festival.

“Generally saddened kami, because sang pagtemporarily stop sang Pasungay, si Tadlang lang ang nabilin kag naserbe inspirasyon namon nga mapadayon amon kawsa sa pagbato kag pagpabalik kang Pasungay,” he told Daily Guardian.

Lazaro said the local government is preparing a case to clarify if Pasungay or bullfighting is indeed covered by the law.

Ginaprepear namon ang legal remedy to seek in court if indeed Pasungay is covered by the law.

If the law states nga indi kami covered, then that’s the time nga pwede na kami ka-stage sang Pasungay. We will have to wait until then,” he said.

In the meantime, Lazaro said they are preparing the tourism side and cultural mapping in San Joaquin.

He appealed for patience and understanding from the residents of San Joaquin.

“Tadlang will serve as our symbol of ardor and fire nga sigehon naton ang aton pakigbato.  Padayon lang ang kawsa ta nga paninguha-an kutob sa masarangan nga mabalik ang Pasungay. Nagapangayo lang kami pahangop sa tawo,” Lazaro said.

The Sangguniang Bayan of San Joaquin is set to pass a resolution within this week expressing gratitude and honor to Tadlang.

Pasungay traces its roots to the Babaylanism culture in the country and was practiced even during the Spanish colonial period.

Before the event temporarily halted, Pasungay was staged every third week of January as one of the highlights of the town’s fiesta.