Bila-Bila Festival Shows Off Hues and History

This story was first published on philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines – If Blessing and numerous other prominent people out there, among them Miley Cyrus who popularized the song “Butterfly Fly Away” can drop good notes for the insect, the people of Marinduque have a unique way of paying tribute to this lovely creature.

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Locally called “Bila-Bila Festival,” this colorful affair is held to highlight major occasions in the island province, notably town and community fiestas, provincial anniversary, and other equally important events.

In fact, the municipal government of the capital town of Boac has even enshrined the butterfly in a municipal ordinance entitled “Tree Farming and Butterfly Propagation Ordinance of 2002.”

Section 30 of the ordinance states; “Whenever appropriate, the release of butterflies shall become a regular feature of social gatherings such weddings, birthdays, baptisms, and anniversary celebrations, and shall become a regular feature of the traditional ‘putong’ and in welcoming of dignitaries, visitors and guests.”

“Putong,” which means crowning, is traditionally held to honor a birthday celebrator or a guest through song and dance punctuated by a shower of flower petals and coins as a symbol of good luck for the main persona of the event.

The provision virtually makes the butterfly a conspicuous member of the Marinduque society, apart from its natural role of enhancing the environment and providing a unique source of livelihood for the townsfolk.

Over the years, butterfly culture has been widely practiced by Marinduquenos as a lucrative backyard cottage industry, the chrysalis of which is being shipped out to butterfly enthusiasts all over the world who are willing to pay good money for the pupa or cocoon.

That means the butterfly species indigenous in Marinduque must have been bred and crossbred with their foreign relatives across the globe.

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