Tarek Festival in Palawan - Philippines
The Palawan Tarek Festival is celebrated in a small municipality called Aborlan which is about two hours away from Puerto Princesa City. Getting to this 2nd class municipality is easy since there are busses and jeepneys that leave Puerto Princesa City everyday from 8am to 1pm. Within the municipality of Aborlan, there are many tricycles that will take one to known tourist destinations and one can even make arrangements with the drivers for pick up after hours.
What to See There
The Palawan Tarek Festival is a ritual commemorated by traditional dances performed by an indigenous group known as the Batak. Celebrated every 3rd week of January, the Palawan Tarek Festival is only celebrated under a full moon similar to the Pagdiwata Ritual Festival. Its actually a follow up celebration from the Pagdiwata Ritual Festival which is a thanksgiving ceremony. The Palawan Tarek Festival is a time when we see this indigenous group live up to their beliefs from their woven clothing performing a war dance adorned with hand made accessories. The war dance is supposed to cast away evil spirits that threaten harm to the people and it is a ceremony asking for the continued support of the gods and properity.
Among the things to see in Aborlan are the hot springs, the lush forest where one can go hiking or trekking and the museum.
The Palawan Tarek Festival has been celebrated for as long as there have been Bataks living in the country and they have even been around even before the colonizers came. This lively celebration has always been believed to continue to bring the Bataks prosperity and to ward off evil spirits that threaten to bring misfortune to the tribe. There are 2 tribes that have been celebrating this, the Tagbanua and the Batak. The Tagbanua celebrate the Palawan Tarek Festival through planting, dancing and while the mood is somewhat somber, this is in contrast to the liveliness of how it is celebrated by the Bataks.
To watch the Palawan Tarek Festival will cost one nothing and all one has to do is to get to the town proper of Aborlan. Pictures can be taken freely of the event and one can even pose with one of the tribe members although the custom in that case would be to give them spare change. One should not be surprised though or get offended to see a female member of the Batak tribe with no top on since this tribe has always been this way since time immemorial.