Alimango or "mud crab" is a species of crab that lives in mangrove areas and estuaries where salt and freshwater meet. The Philippine mud crab or Scylla Serrata, also called as mangrove crabs or black crabs is an economically important crab species because of the business opportunity for the growing demand of these crustaceans commercially. The shell color of the mud crabs varies from a deep, mottled green to very dark brown.
Because of the fondness of Filipinos of these mud crabs, a municipality in the province of Samar celebrates the Alimango Festival. The alimango are mud crabs raised in fishponds. This is also to promote the crab industry of the municipality, Santa Margarita, as the main source of the town's livelihood.
The Alimango Festival is traditionally celebrated every 25th of July annually. It was just re-launched this year, 2012, after a couple years of not celebrating it in the municipality of Santa Margarita. It is a dance festival that revolves around the courtship between the female alimango called "Atabayi" and male alimango called "Amamakhao". It portrays the captivity of the alimango with the use of bobo and giant bentol.
The dancers are dressed in colorful costumes and some are dressed in alimango costumes with their hands flexed as if to bite. The dancers jumped, rolled, swaggered and crawled to the rhythm of the drums. The snare drums and talutang highlight the fast rhythm of the dance.
"Bobo" and "bentol" is a kind of cage or trap used in capturing mud crabs. It is like a gigantic wooden cage designed by fishermen use to catch crabs. While, "talutang" is a kind of bamboo instrument smashed with a stick to create a sound as means of communication. It was also used by early Filipinos as a warning device to notify the community during imminent danger.
The festival highlights include the ritual dance performance, lunch and tasting of specialty crab dishes, games like heaviest alimango, alimango race and more.
Santa Margarita, in waray is "Bungto san Magsohong", is a fourth class municipality in the province of Samar, Philippines. It is bounded to the north by the city of Calbayog and bounded to the south by Gandara. Santa Margarita was formerly a barrio of Calbayog called Magsohong. Magsohong is from the local word "mag-igsoon" meaning "brothers". It only became a separate municipality in 1890. It was only renamed Santa Margarita in honor of Governor Novelas' wife.
When buying crabs in Samar, the price varies from Php250 to Php700 per kilo depending on the size. Expect the prices to go up and become expensive when marketed outside the province.
TRIVIA: Santa Margarita is one of the cleanest towns in the province of Samar and is noted for its small-scale fiber craft industry.
How to Get There
Santa Margarita is 66 kilometers away from Catbalogan City, 8 kilometers away from Calbayog City, and 168 kilometers away from Tacloban City.
From Manila, you can fly to "The Gateway to Eastern Visayas" -- Tacloban (estimated cost Php2,700++, round trip, 1 hour 15 minutes). From Tacloban City, Sta. Margarita is a 2 hour and 50 minute drive by private car.
photos/source/reference: en.wikipedia.org | samar.lgu-ph.com | nelsonpetilla.com
Thank you to Nelson Petilla (www.nelsonpetilla.com) for the Alimango Festival 2009 photos.