Hundreds of men parodied their machismo on New Year’s Day, 2023, by donning the gowns, makeup, and jewelry of the ladies in their family. This almost century-old tradition was interrupted for two years by the COVID-19 epidemic.
The return of the Aguman Sanduk, also known as the Fellowship of the Ladle, allowed Jericho Maniego, age 20, to continue what he termed “mantun pikatulan” (finding joy) while welcoming the new year.
Romy’s father and Efren’s uncle, both locals of Barangay Sto. Domingo, learnt the custom from their male elders.
When Maniego began participating in the street parade at age 15, he wore his grandmother’s home dress, which exposed his tattooed chest.
“I’m glad the tradition has returned. We like being together in this manner. We must be optimistic,” Maniego remarked prior to posing for pictures with his buddies.
Fernando Canlas of Barangay Sta. Catalina donned a dress and tiara befitting a “festival queen” The 51-year-old security officer became the “best muse” at the event.
For the return of the festival, all 15 barangays participated, each with their own floats, street performances, and ideas based on the subject of overcoming the epidemic.
Jerico Isidro donned a wig and gown to “express solidarity” with his village, which is known for producing eggs, tilapia, and, more lately, amateur basketball players.
They somewhat overshadowed the town’s actual beauty queen, Leeana Laughlin, the first runner-up in Mutya ning Kapampangan.
Gov. Dennis Pineda stopped the one-of-a-kind Philippine parade in 2021 and 2022 due to Executive Order No. 32, which prohibited public gatherings and mandated safety precautions against coronavirus infection.
Mayor Philip Naguit stated during the presentation that the local government financed the festival to “create and enhance collaboration among the community while recovering from the epidemic.”
Barangay Sta. Rita was victorious, while Sta. Maria and Sta. Catalina, respectively, placed first and second runner-up.
In 1931, around ten individuals from the town proper founded the Aguman Sanduk as a pikatulan (out of joy or humor). They donned women’s attire, imitating or entertaining the female population of Minalin by parading around Sta. Monica Church, waving the coconut-shell ladle, and sharing bowls of arroz caldo (chicken porridge) to conclude the celebration.
According to Romel, the tiny march was transformed into a festival in 1932, double the merriment.
Tubig Jr. is the tourism officer for Minalin. Tubig stated that the Japanese Imperial Army attempted to suppress it throughout World War II, but the menfolk persisted. The 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo, which flooded the town with lahar, diminished the festivity, he claimed.
A handful of men with occupations outside of Minalin, such as lawyer Ricardo Sagmit, the last surviving participant to the 1971 Constitutional Convention who was proclaimed the festival’s queen in 1975, joined the Aguman Sanduk out of tradition.