'Himala' to be immortalized in Paoay sand dunes

Posted at 05/07/14 8:29 PM

'Himala sa Buhangin' - Himala Festival 2014 - Teaser 2 from Brandon Relucio on Vimeo.

MANILA -- Elsa, the iconic character of veteran actress Nora Aunor in the classic film "Himala," is set to be immortalized in the sandy dunes of Ilocos Norte.

The provincial government has tapped visual artist Gerry Leonardo to craft a fiberglass sculpture of the film character created by scriptwriter Ricky Lee for the 1982 movie.

"Himala," which was directed by National Artist Ishmael Bernal, was shot at the 88-kilometer sand formation in Paoay.

The classic scene in the movie with Aunor shouting “Walang himala" to a crowd has spawned the “Himala sa Buhangin” festival in Ilocos Norte, which has become a favorite spot for movie shoots.

Other movies that have been shot in this picturesque location include the "Panday" films of the late Fernando Poe Jr. and the Oscar-winning "Born on the 4th of July" starring Tom Cruise.

Aunor is expected to grace the sculpture's unveiling on May 10, as part of an offbeat outdoor arts and music festival patterned after the annual Burning Man event at Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.

According to its official website, the Burning Man allows attendees to “dedicate themselves to the spirit of community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. They depart one week later, leaving no trace.”

In the first Himala sa Buhangin last year, all art installations were burned to the ground to symbolize the provincial government’s call for everyone to gather and celebrate Ilocos Norte’s successes.

Organizers left young artist Leeroy New’s “Chrysalis” standing, however, as the huge indigenous sculpture symbolizes Ilocos Norte’s budding tourism industry.

"Chrysalis" is also an artistic representation of the galleon that brought the 400-year-old image of the province’s patroness, La Virgen Milagrosa, to the shores of the town of Badoc.

New is expected to unveil another sculpture as big as the "Chrysalis."

“Before, the folks in Paoay would cry over these sand dunes because they couldn’t farm there, but movie directors here and abroad love it. Tourists are fascinated as well that 4x4 rides and sand boarding have started to provide income to the people. Indeed, this is the true ‘himala,’” Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos said.

During the day, the festival will feature 4×4 racing competitions, sand castle-making, sand boarding, Zorb riding, and other activities like belly- and fire-dancing.

At night, rock bands led by “The Voice of the Philippines” judge Bamboo Manalac will entertain the participants.