Remembrance of fiestas past in Guinarona


To us, Guinarona Fiesta in the Philippines, is the event.   Not even Christmas comes close.  Although the fiesta is too much work, it’s a miracle that we go through the rigmarole with high spirits.  Having a huge house to clean up in preparation is no joke either.  Like two weeks before May 17, we would clear awnings, alcoves and exteriors with escuba–really a cluster of woody weeds bunched up like a broom, but with a long handle, the better to scour every nook and cranny.

And boy do we have to apply tons of red wax to the wooden floor, then polish it with a million strokes of the bunot.  But then what happens is that your floor becomes a sad spectacle with the fiesta traffic.  It’s like, why do we have to clean up, polish up with all the mess afterwards?  Aren’t fiestas crazy?

Then participating in playground demonstrations is de rigueur.  Else San Pascual Baylon will punish you.  Yeah, right.  But we believe the admonition, having experienced, albeit excruciatingly, a cut in one’s sole, after having bailed out of the Sailor Dance, as choreographed by Mama Aning Martinada.  Others would go the zarsuela way, like emoting while singing, this time coached by Tata Anli Martinada–yes, the Martinadas have that artistic touch.

The ante-vesperas–that’s when we start to really go hang.  First the making of the kurukod, moron, and binagol– all labor intensive–and you will perspire a lot doing so.  Especially extracting the pure coconut cream for the binagol the see-saw way.  But wait, the manual grating of the coconut is something else.  (The making of the papaya atchara, also labor intensive,  should be at least two weeks before May 17, so that the atchara will have been aged by fiesta time.)

Helping hands from our coconut farms in the hills of Guinarona would also come down on ante-vesperas, their shoulders laden with coconuts, banana leaves and young leaves from the coconut for the kurukod; ditto for a hundred more items. It is amazing how camaraderie is established while doing these chores. (Until 1972, Guinarona was not juiced or electrified.  So we relied on four petromaxs at a time for illumination.  Nonetheless, pumping up a  petromax leaves you panting too.)

The morning of the vespera (May 16),–that’s the time we make the obligatory tortas (muffins), with Auntie Tansing orchestrating. We remember one hudno or batch being eaten up by the flames, Mother having used an aluminum sheeting for the top embers of the oven–which melted and gave way–and which made her cry a river.

Then May 17, the moment of truth comes, and this time we are just too tired to even care.  We just go with the flow, not even eating properly, however laden the fiesta table is.  Sleepless and tired.  Say, aren’t fiestas crazy?

One thing great about fiestas is that it’s the time that you see old friends and relatives, reconnecting with them, comparing notes with them.  We remember Senator Raul Manglapus advocating the abolition of fiestas.  Of course, he was skinned alive.

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8 thoughts on “Remembrance of fiestas past in Guinarona

    1. Thanks, Rex. The fiesta is part of the Filipino ethos, his culture. So, with apologies to the late Sen. Manglapus, the fiesta cannot be done away with, however one tries.

      1. Francis X, Manglapus

        MONDAY, JULY 26, 2010

        RAUL MANGLAPUS NEVER BANNED FIESTAS
        Make My Day – Hilarion Henares, Jr.

        The Philippine Post – August 7, 1999

        In the latter part of June 1991, Senator Heherson “Sonny” Alvarez, chairman of the committee on natural resources and ecology, proposed that experts study the possibility of strategic bombing of selected spots around Mt. Pinatubo to divert mudflows from populated areas.

        And everyone snickered. Derision in the press consigned Alvarez’s Pinatubo bombing to such nincompoopery as Congressman Vera’s outlawing of typhoon’s President Ramon Magsaysay’s abrogation of law of supply and demand, and Raul Manglapus’ abolition of fiestas.

        Hehehe Alvarez can take satisfaction from the fact that such strategic bombing was used successfully in the 1935 eruption of Mauna Loa in Hawaii, but he cannot escape the derision of the press.

        Vera’s bill was a perfectly valid proposal to study the typhoon while the view of diverting it or dissipating its force. Today it is possible to seed hurricanes, even bomb the storm’s eye to divert and dissipate it. Up to now, long after he’s been dead Vera is still known to have attempted to abolish typhoons.

        Ramon Magsaysay’s remark about abrogating the law of supply and demand is a complete fabrication, a politician’s joke to show Monching’s lack of sophistication. But the joke acquired a life of its own and will probably last forever.

        Manglapus’ proposal regarding fiestas sought not to abolish them but to utilize them for capital formation and productive endeavors, like pig raising, duck raising, credit unions, scholarship funding – instead of conspicuous consumption and give-away hospitality. A perfectly valid movement which I headed as president of Fiestas for Progress was practically laughed out of existence.

        My friend, Raul Manglapus, screamed with pain every time he saw reprinted for the nth time the canard that a senator he introduced a bill to abolish fiestas. Max Soliven in 1987 wrote that Raul “proposed a law banning fiestas” and that he was “jeered and booted out of the Senate in the 1967 elections”. And Teddy Benigno did the same thing in his Star column dated March 21, 1997, writing that Manglapus “got off a Senate Bill to ban fiestas and was bopped bowlegged by a fiesta loving citizenry and Congress.” Well, Max and Teddy, pardon me but I was there as the president of Fiestas for Progress, and I know that:

        Raul never filed a bill banning fiestas. We proposed not to ban the fiesta but to use it for productive purposes, such as saving capital for projects like balut and salted eggs in Pateros, where our experiement became successful. No need for a law.

        Raul did not lose an election to the Senate simply because he did not run for the Senate in 1967. I did, along with Ninoy Aquino, Soc Rodrigo, Camilo Osias, and Maria KK the Censor; only Ninoy won. Nobody could have jeered Manglapus then, nor booted him out in an election he did not participate in.

        The next time Raul Manglapus did run was his third party (Progressive) bid for the presidency in 1965, and he and Macapagal lost to Ferdinand Marcos. He then ran in 1970 for the Constitutional Convention. He won in the first district of Rizal with the highest number of votes in the entire country.

  1. Guillermo A. Marbibi III

    This will be a compilation of our wonderful place to stand an evidence for the next generation that we have a camaraderie.

  2. Pingback: It’s the Fiesta Season, Folks! | Development templates for Guinarona

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