TRAVEL THEME: TRADITION

In Bayanan where I grew up, the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene is a big event.  People who have been away from our place, like myself, would usually schedule their around the Fiesta, as we call it.
Here is the life -size statue of St. Mary Magdalene that is displayed prominently in our little parish church that has been dedicated to her. The Priest who initiated the construction of the Church more or less 70 years ago was named Magdaleno. Hence, the choice of the patron saint.
She has always been garbed in these colors – red and gold. It seemed that long ago, when a new color scheme was used for her clothes, a flood , an unknown in our place, happened during her Feast Day. Since then, we kept her ‘theme’. Saint Magdalene to us is a family member. Many of us from Bayanan identified ourselves as coming from her Parish instead of the socio-political entity known as Bayanan. To many, Saint Magdalene and Bayanan are synonymous.
The Fiesta (which in the Philippines)  is usually a grand celebration, not only for the  community as a whole,  but also for each member  household.
This is our little parish church built  like the old Spanish Churches. It has thick walls, arched windows, and a little dome. A real bell used to hang from the belfry and rang merrily or sadly as befitting an event. An elderly lady, whose name now escapes me but whose image is clearly imprinted in my memory, used to ring the bell. It rang the Angelus hours, it rang before Masses, it rang for the Consecration. It was a backdrop to my growing up years.
In the olden days, (I am speaking here specifically about my birthplace) people would go into  debt so that they could lay out a feast for those coming to visit.  It was a big open house where even strangers were welcomed in homes.  I  doubt if that is still true these days when houses hide behind gates.

Days before the big event, the community would be busy decorating the neighborhood with colorful buntings and banners.  Families would clean  up their houses and surroundings.   Novena Masses were celebrated in the parish church.  The Festival Committee organized  the events and entertainments.  On Fiesta Eve,  a procession would be  held after the  last Novena Mass.  Later in the night, the people would have festivities in the village plaza  just across the Church.  At home, friends from neighboring villages would come over bearing their own utensils to help with the cooking.  On these nights,  I’d go to sleep to the rhythm of  knives  pounding the chopping block.
Here is the float of San Pascual Baylon, ‘guest’ of long standing in our fiestas. Saint Pascual is the Patron Saint of the nearby parish which used to be a part of the Parish of Saint Mary Magdalene. Lore has it that after the Parish of Saint Pascual was established, the latter no longer participated in our Feast Day procession and vice versa. It seemed, however, that the Saints themselves were not pleased by the new arrangement that during their Feast Day celebrations where one was not represented, there was downpour so heavy that no procession was ever held in their honor. People took this to mean as their sign of disapproval of the new regime. Thenceforth, one (at least the representation of one) would grace the other’s event. Processions have not been interrupted since then. I am just glad to know that friends look out for each other forever. 🙂

I am glad to know that the parishioners from other villages are now joining the procession. It used to be the ‘sole’ domain of the people from Bayanan. SInce this is more a religious festival and a celebration of the parish – which is a Church geographical division (as against a political/government group which Barrio Bayanan is), the participation of the parishioners from other barrios is just fitting.
Mornings would find us enveloped with the aroma of  freshly cooked food as we got  ready for the Mass.  On this special day, we had the luxury of choosing from several scheduled Masses.  I often attended the one celebrated by the Archbishop who makes a special trip to our Church  for the Feast of Saint Magdalene.  He would concelebrate the Mass  with other  visiting priests.   Afterwards, we visited with neighbors and relatives to sample their tasty  offerings.
They slowed down the carriage so I could take a picture and have it posted on Facebook. 🙂 That kind of favor was not so strange in a place where everybody knew everybody and people are most likely related to the next person. The man in green is a second cousin and the rest know our family and its ancestors.
Alas!  We could not prolong our stay until the Feast Day.  Due to (my husband’s) work commitments,  we had to leave  before the July 22 celebrations.  However,  we were able to witness the procession.   Acknowledging that many could not participate in the procession because they are busy in their respective homes during the Feast Day or are at work or at school, the Parish moved the procession to the Sunday immediately before the Feast Day.   The new schedule was kind of odd to me but I was quite thankful and happy to be in it again.   My eyes misted when I beheld the procession.  It was a especially lovely day for me.
We need our Musiko. The Fiesta is not fiesta without the Musiko making the rounds the day before and during the Fiesta. As children, we would stop whatever we were doing to watch the Musiko and the majorettes twirling their batons.

I am linking with Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Tradition with this post.  What a timely theme it is for me. 🙂  Do head over to her page for wonderful, colorful interpretations of the theme.

Have a great day. 🙂

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19 comments

    • Thank you, Madhu. Yeah, the Musiko is a fun part of the festivities. We always wondered about who hosts them during the event and envy the family that does so because they have the fun people in their house. 🙂

  1. Lovely post with beautiful photos. I love learning about different traditions in different cultures and parts of the world. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you for the nice words, Annemarie. I am glad you enjoyed this post. There are many fiestas on a much grander scale in the Philippines. Those are our version of the Carnival except that ours are still definitely (and will hopefully be) always religious in tone and nature. 🙂

  2. Brilliant post, Imelda, beautifully descriptive – you conjured up the loveliest of images with your words, and your photos are gorgeous too. Thank you so much for sharing the Fiesta with us. xxx Ailsa

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