Winners of the Sandugo Street Dancing

An island cooperative which is making waves in converting a lost livelihood hunting endangered species into a lucrative tourism enterprise wowed thousands of spectators when it took to the streets Sunday to show its wares marking the 2008 Sandugo street dancing spectacle.

Not to be  outsmarted, Tribu Maribojoc also showed excellent performance to gain the nod of judges to bag the Best in Field Performance.

Jagna's Sinuog Estokada was also the darling of the crowd when it went home with the Best in Street Dancing plum rounding up the three winners in the street dancing exhibition. Although it was made it clear before the revelry started that it was no contest, people in the crowd already trained their sights as to the possible winners. Sixteen Sandugo street dancing groups made up this year's entries in the yearly activity.

The Baclayon contingent represented by the Pamilacan Island Tourism Livelihood Multi-Purpose Cooperative was a stand out in production design. No wonder it went home wrestling the Best Production Design award. No detail was spared in Baclayon's entry—from props, costumes to choreography.

Built around the theme of Pamilacan's thriving whale watching industry, the presentation has to use a prime mover to depict the picture of whales and dolphins cavorting in the seas of the island.

On the surface, it looked like the Baclayon contingent spent millions of pesos to come up with a very impressive and expensive presentation.

But according to Joel Uichico who paired with Bea Zobel de Ayala of the rich and famous Makati clan, the expenses incurred by the contingent was the result of the generous donations of many Baclayanons. The biggest donors are said to be the Ayala Foundation and Globe, a telecom provider owned by the wealthy family.

Uichico said the only tangible expenses shouldered by the pair was the  costumes of the participants numbering more than 100`which ran to something more than P100,000. All the rest are bankrolled by donations from different Baclayanons. The custome design was handled by EJ Relampagos.

Uichico and Zobel de Ayala are in the forefront of Pamilacan's livelihood project.

The two took pity to the island folks after they were dislocated when a ban was imposed on the  hunting manta ray, an age old livelihood of the islanders.

When whale watching became a tourism vogue, the two lost no time in luring the islanders to become spotters of the endangered sea mammals.

Now, more 20 boats designed for manta ray hunting were converted into tourist boats giving way to a new cottage industry becoming the island's source of income. The livelihood also resulted in the preservation of the endangered sea creatures whose population is threatened by extinction. 

Uichico and Ayala offered no interest loans to the islanders to make their operations going. According to Uichico, as much as P4,000 is earned each boat when tourists flock to the island to marvel the beauty and allure of whale watching.