By MARK ANTHONY N. MANUEL
MINALIN, Pampanga – People of this small fishing town were surprised on New Year’s Day as their “very manly” vice mayor shaved off his mustache and donned a black gown like a beauty queen.
But it was not a “coming out” for Vice Mayor Edgardo Yambao. He dressed as the “festival queen” during the annual “Sanduk Festival” (Belles of Minalin) in which men in Minalin dressed as beauty queens ride through town on festive floats.
Mayor Arturo Naguit, last year’s festival queen, proudly presented “Queen Edgarda” on Sunday with cheers and applause from the crowd.
“For this year, our vice mayor has sacrificed his dear mustache, which he has not done since his teen years when he grew it, just to make the 2012 Sanduk Festival joyful and meaningful as the queen of the Aguman,” the Mayor said.
Naguit served as Yambao’s escort throughout the parade.
“I am not ashamed to wear a gown. I’m in fact proud of carrying on the tradition of our ancestors,” Yambao shared adding that being the queen of the Sanduk Festival is an honor.
Aguman Sanduk is literally translated as “fellowship of the ladle”. Every New Year’s Day, men in Minalin cross-dress and parade straight to the poblacion for the crowning of the Aguman Sanduk Queen.
Rico Supremo, 43, from Barangay Sta. Rita was crowned as this year’s “Reyna Ning Sanduk” or the Aguman Sanduk Queen,” bagging the P30,000 cash prize.
“The festival started in 1931, when a group of men decided to cross-dress or miblas babai to give joy to the townspeople. Some accounts from old residents mentioned that prior to 1931, Minalin suffered from drought, thus the people did not harvest enough for the coming year,” Janice Morales from the Municipal Office said.
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