Monday 18th July 2022 · Mike Smith
Source: Junta de Festes de Moros i Cristians
The colour and noise of the Moros i Cristians de Xàbia have finally returned to the streets of the port. It has been a long break but the energy and drive had not been lost as the filaes gathered together to participate in the official presentation of the fiestas on Saturday evening.
The evening was especially emotional for Lucía Llidó Vallés and Carla Llidó Bertolín, the standard bearers for both sides who, since they were proclaimed as such in February 2020, have patiently waited for their moment to arrive. The two young women were visibly excited during the course of the day as they prepared themselves. And it was also a special night for Florencio Mata Crespo and Rosa Torres Catalá, captains of the Filà Ballesters. Both were also presented at the Mig Any 2020 celebrations and have also eagerly awaited the arrival of this event in which the usual exchange of powers between captaincies takes place. It has been two long years of preparations in which standard bearers and captains have not only strengthened their friendship, but have represented the fiesta wherever it has been required.
Prior to the event, the traditional collection of standards and representatives of each of the filaes participating in the presentation took place, which showed the spectacular costumes that the troops will wear in the Gala Parades next weekend.
Lorena Ros and Laura Torres, standard bearers for 2019, acted as presenters of the event set in a medieval castle in a clear allusion to the style of the Filà Capitana. In fact, the first to preside over the stage were the Captains Ballesters 2022 and Florencio Mata and Rosa Torres took their place at the top of the fortress to receive the rest of the company.
After this, the presenters gave way to one of the highlights of the night: the proclamation of Diana Morant, Minister of Science and Technology. Morant addressed the large audience present in Valencian, acknowledging that “it is an honour to be able to share such a special night for all“. She praised the figure of Rey Jaume I (and the patron saint of the festivities of Xàbia) encouraging the festeros of the municipality to adopt the command of the conqueror: “Love and protect all people. Make justice reign and ensure that the great do not oppress the small.” Morant noted that “there is no fiesta that better symbolizes the magic of memory than the Moors & Christians” and “the streets of port have missed you because of the pandemic in a long test of collective endurance that we have all suffered“.
The minister emphasized the importance of the feeling of belonging to a fila and how this has a positive impact on the social fabric: “It goes beyond belonging to a group of friends who have fun. The constant and sometimes difficult work you do creates people. You make Xàbia. You are people of action.” Morant praised the open nature of the ranks, their magnificence in taking to the streets and raising the expectant audience and the excitement of being able to share such a long-awaited return.
At the end of the proclamation, the president of the Junta de Festes, Rubén Femenia handed over a commemorative parchment to the minister for her contribution and exaltation of the fiesta.
After Morant’s intervention, the great moments of the night continued. One of the moments that caused the most anticipation was the tribute to the Moor and Christian standard bearers through the history of the fiesta of Xàbia and the moment marked twenty-five years since this representative figure was created that enjoys its own autonomy since the standard bearer does not depend on any other position.
And despite the fact that the pandemic has not made it possible to have twenty-five ambassadors from each side, it was possible to gather most of them during the presentation. Thus, for a festive edition, all the women who have held the title since 1997 were called to the stage, receiving the applause of their respective ranks and the audience. The final picture of all of them supposes a vindication of the woman in the fiesta.
Then, both Lucía and Carla, standard bearers 20-22, led their respective factions and, after them, the representatives of each were called. First came the Moorish side and the hosts of Almoriscos, Xibia, Baharis, Almoradins, Schaitans and Al-Tarik’s, followed by the Christian troops of the Faciners, Piratas de Sant Jaume, Trabuquers, Contrabandistes de Xàbia and the Captaincy Ballesters. All of them showed the majestic and original costumes with which they will dazzle the public next weekend.
Another of the emotional moments of the night was the delivery of the Sant Jaume Awards that the Junta de Festes gives to people linked to the festivities who have played a prominent role in achieving them throughout its history. Thus, Juan Cardona, Encarna Tachó and Pepe García “Chiulit” (the latter two posthumously) received their well-deserved recognitions. In the case of the latter, Mayka Contreras (García’s daughter) and Juan Vicente and José Fornés (Tachó’s sons) were in charge of collecting the award on behalf of their parents.
Cardona is one of the active veterans with the longest career in the fiesta (39 years) and a complete resume from his more than 15 years on the Junta de Festes. “Chiulit” will always be remembered as one of the most charismatic Moorish Ambassadors and an endearing festero and Tachó as a festera always predisposed to participate and join. The design and manufacture of up to five of the standards that display the rows today is hers.
The last part of the event featured representatives of other local fiestas, including the Casa de Andalusia, the festivities of the Virgen de Loreto and the Fogueres de Sant Joan who took to the stage to pay tribute with the representatives of the Moors and Christians.
Then came the speeches of the president of the Junta de Festes, the councilor of Fiestas Kika Mata and the mayor of Xàbia José Chulvi. Femenía surprised everyone by requesting the presence of the treasurer and secretary of the Board, Pilar Zamora and Helena Ter Veld, whom he thanked for their work over the years. City officials praised the fiesta and encouraged everyone to join in the cheers.
Photos by Fay Hughes (javeamigos.com)