A festival about deathmask and Christianity (4 of 16)

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Streetdancers performing on the streets of Oton, wearing the famous deathmask

Katagman refers to the ancient settlers of Western Panay. This settler has unique burial ritual in which they placed a gold nose-disc and gold eye-mask to their dead people to protect the eyes and nose of their diseased loved ones from evil spirits. This ancient ritual is influenced by Chinese in which the natives have trade relationship with them before the Spaniards conquered the Philippines.

Oton was once a center of trade route in Panay Islands. Prosperity brought about a flourishing community, and so many examples of the early Chinese wares were obtained from the area that it is necessary to explain shortly that Chinese settlers in the area practiced ancient Chinese customs even in the disposal of the remains of their dead. The town became home to several burial rites where gold artifacts, porcelain and carnelian beads where among the rare items recovered.

When the Spanish conquered the Philippines, Oton was established in 1572 by the Augustinian Friars and became the center of Spanish administration in Iloilo. Once known as Ogtong or reef or tidal flat which is the main feature of the area, Oton was a missionary base for the conversion of the entire region. This led to the Christianization of the native Katagmans.

During the Katagman Festival, a street dancing competition, painting competition and dance theater competition is highlighted showcasing the rich historical past of Oton.

Source: http://www.iloilometropolitantimes.com/11th-katagman-festival-in-oton/

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