Leyte-Samar culture: Who does the best Curacha?

Think Leyte and Samar?

Then think Curacha!

Who would have thought that churches, auditoriums and other projects could be built through Curacha?

The dance originates from Leyte-Samar, and mimics the courtship between a rooster and a hen.  It begins with a moderate beat and climaxes with a rapid movement, where the male is coaxing the female with pantomimes.  Throughout the curacha performance, the audience is encouraged to lay money on a wide kerchief, especially when either of the dancing pair is harnessed or hobbled for effect.

To our mind, the best female dancer of the curacha in Guinarona is Edna Villablanca.   On the male side, we can only think of Vicente “Tente” Quintero,  who wowed them when he paired with Luisa Camulte at the Guinarona Elementary School flagpole court back in the day.


After cheating death twice. . .

There must be something for us in this valley of tears, something of a calling. . .for us to cheat death twice. And would there be a third?

When we were kids, after the school break, we would hie ourself toTabon-tabon where our oldest sister and her family resided. It was not that we disliked Guinarona, only that our parents would goad us to go. Of course, Guinarona was a lot better than anywhere as far as sabbaticals go. We had all sorts of invented games to occupy our time; whereas Tabon-tabon was a strange land altogether.

Drowning by kg.bahay-bahayan.com

It so happened that Tabon-tabon was along the Guinarona River, and one deep swimming hole there attracted the kids. And going there again never happened after we almost drowned–as in almost dead, kaput, gone. The hole was thrice as deep as we were tall. We kept bobbing up, then sinking down–we thought it was an eternity of bobbing up for air. We thought we were expert swimmers, but maybe we were panicking, and our swimming prowess escaped us. Good thing Rosie was near us and noticed our predicament. Forthwith, she grabbed us and dragged us to the river bank. What happened after was a blur–or worse, we could not even remember or just chose to forget. For being near-death is just horrible. (Rosie, wherever you are, thanks for being our angel.)

* * * *

The year was 1975. We were more or less on our own, trying to be independent by having a small business in our old house in Guinarona. Holy Week it was, and the mural of the 13th Station of the Cross, which was in our care, was ready for installation. In the meantime, we kept the mural near the stairwell. At about eight in the evening, while we were to go upstairs, and our hands laden with two jugs of water, we noticed that the mural was moving and blocking our way. A dreadful shriek came out of our mouth and we dropped the jugs of water, which thudded and broke on the cement floor. We were catching our breath as we dashed outside the house. After collecting ourself, we ventured back, this time with Turoy, our assistant.

We don’t know if it was from the all-encompassing fear, but we fell ill thereafter–we could not hold water or food. For four days we were comatose–they said that an ambulance fetched us for Bethany Hospital in Tacloban City. But we could barely remember.

All we could remember was the IV drips attached to our body and Mother by our side.

We know that once you cheat death, you are supposed to have a mission. If you cheat death twice, would you have a double mission?

Musings on the Aztec Calendar

We have had the Aztec Calendar talisman for three months now, and we have stopped procuring some such.  And do you know why?  Well, we found the Aztec calendar to be the ultimate talisman.

A talisman is an object, either natural or man-made, believed to be endowed with special powers to protect or bring good fortune. Amulets are carried on the person or kept in the place that is the desired sphere of influence—e.g., on a roof or in a field. The terms amulet and talisman are often used interchangeably, but a talisman is sometimes defined as an engraved amulet (Encyclopedia Britannica).

A replica of the Aztec calendar by gorbatyu.com

The efficacy of the Aztec calendar talisman may have something to do with 2012, which marks the end of the counting of years by the Mayans, an advanced civilization in its time in South America.  There are two schools of thought about the significance of 2012, most notably December 21, 2012.

— That the world will end by then, with planet Nibiru as the catalyst.  It is said that Nibiru appears in the solar system once every 3,600 years, and December 21, 2012 marks its appearance.  Which, it is believed, will cause a massive disruption with the sun and Jupiter, which will become as hot as the sun as a result.  Nibiru is supposed to be the home of the Annunaki, the superior beings who created man.

–That on December 21, 2012, a realignment of the entire Milky Way galaxy will occur, the reference point being the galactic equator, a phenomenon that occurs once every 25,000 years.  The earth’s poles will shift, resulting in the opening of the Third Eye in humans.  Hence, there will be a spiritual renaissance.

Let the future take care of itself, we are told.  Just focus on each day as if it were your last.

As far as we are concerned, the Aztec calendar lets us focus on the here and now and has very powerful energies.  In fact, during our ritual for Osayin, the master gardener, we did it with the Aztec calendar, and the result was spectacular.  Many figures appeared on the patterns of the rum libation, to wit:  an upright deer, two women profiles, and Osayin’s face superimposed with another smaller face.  Which, we believe, is very significant if only for the fact that the deer is our animal spirit in the Aztec calendar.  https://anibongpalm.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/the-insights-from-osayin/

A close-up of my Aztec Calendar talisman

The Aztec calendar lets you experience  synchronicity  like no other!

The insights from Osayin

We have come half-way round the world to realize our calling–and at a gurang age!  And that is to advocate for Osayin, the master gardener.  The date:  July 20, 2010, when we first did our ritual for him.  We lit a green tea light candle previously anointed with spearmint oil, offered him a rose dripped with rum.  We then centered ourself, i.e. went into a deep relaxation mode to achieve the Alpha State, and invoked Osayin by chanting his name for five minutes.  Back in our mind we were hoping for a sign from him.  Then we were off to bed and had the most relaxing sleep we ever had.

Do you see the upright deer and Osayin's face in-between the deer antlers?

The morning after, we observed the patterns of the rum libation.  Lo and behold, there were two female human figures, an upright deer, and Osayin’s face in-between the deer antlers.  He had an animal-like face with two huge ears!   Also superimposed on Osayin’s face was a smaller one–also an animal face!

Wow, when we slept the second night, we had a vivid dream–a formula for coconut ketchup!  We noted down the materials and methods in our book of shadows.  On the third night we were taught a revolutionary method of making coconut wine!

On the fourth night, we found Osayin up a santol tree, and the tree was ablaze with lit candles.  Then he gave us the santol fruit to eat.  We searched up the properties of santol, and it has anti-cancer attributes.  Hmmm. . .

Inside the circle is Osayin's face!

We encountered Osayin in 1977 at the Malubago Hills in Guinarona.  His left footprints were clearly visible to us after a light rain.  We did not know it was him.  Not until this July 20, when a spiritualist friend revealed it to us, pointing out that we were blessed to have had that encounter.  Which was also the day we first invoked him.

So far so good.  Viva, Osayin!

A bigger close-up of Osayin's!
A smaller close-up of Osayin's

Guinarona and San Pascual Baylon: A Journey Thru Time

(Note:  The more than a century old image of San Pascual Baylon was stolen at dawn of June 13, 2010 at the San Pascual Baylon Parish Church in Guinarona, Leyte, Philippines.  Hopefully, with the awareness created by this blog, efforts will double up to recover the priceless icon.  Source of literature:  Souvenir Program, Guinarona Annual Fiesta, May16-17 .)

A Brief History

In 1903, in the midst of a cholera epidemic, THE FOUNDERS OF GUINARONA sent Timoteo Daclizon to Manila to procure the image of SAN PASCUAL BAYLON, known far and wide to possess miraculous powers. Residents of Guinarona offered contributions in the form of cash, abaca, palay and coconut for the purchase. Contributions totaled two pesetas, a substantial amount during that time.

Dagami’s Parish Priest, then was Fr. Manuel Pascasio.

After a month-long voyage by sea, the image of SAN PASCUAL BAYLON arrived in Tacloban City. The barrio founders met the image at Dagami after which a procession followed, bringing it to Guinarona.

San Pascual Baylon

As oral history would have it, SAN PASCUAL BAYLON’s first miracle was when the cancerous lesions  on Pedro Tibe’s foot healed after a handkerchief patted on the image was placed on it. News about the miracle spread like wild fire and pilgrims flocked to Guinarona by the hundreds. Because of their sheer numbers, some pilgrims had to stay overnight in Guinarona. San Pascual’s image was then in the care of Raymundo Casarilla.

Guinarona’s reputation as a pilgrim’s mecca gradually spread in Leyte and Samar, and this contributed in no small measure to the prosperity of the place. Guinarona then had all sorts of businesses mostly owned by Chinese traders.

The image of SAN PASCUAL BAYLON’s accumulated much cash from its devotees such that in no time a church was built, initiated by barrio illustrados such as Francisco Benitez, Alfonso Maray, Fernando Sudario, Esperedion Raquel, Raymundo Casarilla and Basilio Raquel.

The church and convent were completed in time for the second fiesta celebration, Don Alfonso Maray having been voted as the first Hermano Mayor.

The century old icon of San Pascual Baylon in Guinarona. (Photo credit: Mabelle Fabian-Ausa)

On April 30, 1930, a big typhoon hit Leyte, totally destroying the church and the convent. It was so strong that the entire church was blown to a distance of about six meters from the original site. The altar was also destroyed, but the image of SAN PASCUAL BAYLON was well intact as though nailed to the floor.  After the disaster, the Parish Priest of Dagami, Fr. Pedro Aruta, enjoined the people of Guinarona to build a temporary chapel for SAN PASCUAL BAYLON’s image.

Central district, Guinarona (Photo credit: Nilo Malate)

Upon the initiative of Jose Raquel and Teniente del Barrio Apolonio Bacal, son-in-law of Antonio Justimbaste, the church was built as pilgrims doubled in number.

On November 5, 1971 at 7:00 AM, Guinarona was inaugurated as the Parish of SAN PASCUAL BAYLON during the visit of Msgr. Manuel S. Salvador, Bishop of Palo.  The creation of Guinarona as a separate parish came about through the noble efforts of illustrious Guinaronanhon, the late Msgr. Esteban Justimbaste, the Vicar of Carigara Parish. Guinarona’s first parish priest was the ebbulient Fr. Romeo Mazo.

Past Hemanos Mayores

Hereunder is the list of past Hermanos Mayores for San Pascual Baylon in Guinarona:

1904 Alfonso Maray 1945 Sixto Justimbaste
1905 Fernando Sudario 1946 Juan Almenario
1906 – 1907 PULAHAN YEARS 1947 Leon Lobrigo
1908 Francisco Benitez 1948 Maximo Ty
1909 Timoteo Daclizon 1949 Cipriano Tibe
1910 Pioquinto Cardante 1950 Balbino Jandoc
1911 Raymundo Mintay 1951 Fernando Aniano
1912 Eusebio Lobrigo 1952 Esteban Justimbaste
1913 Eulogio Olimpo 1953 Melanio Ordame
1914 Alejandro Gaspay 1954 Eleuterio Maray Sr.
1915 Isidro Calbitaza 1955 Anacorita Porteza
1916 Antonio Balatar 1956 Obdulia Aragon
1917 Mauricio Aragon 1957 Crestita Martinada
1918 Mass Celebration 1958 Esteban Justimbaste
1919 Andres Daclizon 1959 Timoteo Justimbaste
1920 Alfonso Palita 1960 Almerino Family
1921 Aquilino Ordame 1961 Raymundo Tibe
1922 Alejo Maganda 1962 Dominga Quartela
1923 – 1924 Mass Celebration 1963 Zosimo Berida
1925 Marciano Camposano 1964 Alejandro Balderian
1926 Juan Nario 1965 Concordio Tibe
1927 Juan Balatar 1966 Pablo Remalate
1928 Agosto Balatar 1967 Pablo Ontimare Jr.
1929 Mass Celebration 1968 Segundo Caneda
1930 – 1937 Court Litigation 1969 Gerardo Florencio
1938 Ponciano Remalante 1970 Pacita Tibe
1939 Ponciano Raquel 1971 Meliton Iroy
1940 Gavino Go 1972 Anastacio Emata
1941 Hermogenes Martinada 1973 Buenaventura Cuartela
1974 Generosa Yu
1975 Juan Berida
NEW GENERATION 1976 Maria Collado
1977 Benjamin Go
2000 Bardillon Family 1978 Apolonio Ontimare
2001 Eufracia Raquel 1979 Crispen Cerno
2002 Eugenia Aniano 1980 Raymundo Jandoc
2003 Miguel Ontimare 1981 Licerio Martinada Sr.
2004 Shangrela Lea Loreno 1982 Bardillon Family
2005 Godofredo Talavera 1983 Salustiano Remalante
2006 Erlinda Almaden 1984 Pedro Agda
2007 Eulalia Guarino 1985 Enrique Cardante Sr.
2008 Ruena Family 1986 Eleuterio Malate
2009 Shiony Nabora 1987 Epifanio Balidio
2010 Aleta Aniano-Sayong 1988 Pelagio Bayona
1989 Gregorio Abejar
1990 Hermogenes Martinada Jr.
1991 Miguel Almerino
1992 Ben de Dios
1993 Virginia Remalante
1994 Serafin Olimpo Jr.
1995 Rogelio Yalong
1996 Mercedes Balatar
1997 Felipe Bayona Jr.
1998 Mauro Engracial
1999 Fulgencio Almenario

The Father of Guinarona: A Tribute

The now abandoned Jose B. Raquel residence in Guinarona. (Photo credit: Mabelle Fabian-Ausa)

We are writing this far from Guinarona, where we could have done some in-depth research.  Hence, ours is just a hodge-podge of recollections about the man we call the Father of Guinarona.

To our mind, his crowning achievement was the realization of the Mahagnao National Park, because he it was who knocked on doors, as it were, to make it happen.  On account of his unselfish and pioneering efforts, people locally and internationally can now enjoy Mahagnao in its unblemished and pristine state.

We remember him showing us snapshots of his trips to Mahaganao in the 60’s.  What is indelible in our mind is the engkantos in those pictures–yes, the spirits at Mahagnao, somehow being captured on film.  They were half-naked males with feather plumes on their heads, just like the Native American Indians.  Which makes you think if the Native Americans are actually spirits themselves.  Or are feather plumes a spiritual symbol of some kind?

Jose B. Raquel's baby, the Mahagnao National Park in Burauen, Leyte. (Photo credit: Roberto A. Aquino)

We remember him always pounding at his Underwood typewriter with the long carriage.  There at his small second floor office to the right.  Manifestos, resolutions, petitions, general letters–those were his fortes.  He was the quintessential protector and defender of the image of San Pascual Baylon, which had a controversial history, like figuring in disputes virtually reaching the courts of law.  (As a miraculous image, San Pascual’s is a magnet for tug-of-wars, we might add.)

We remember him calling us only to slip some money into our pocket, presumably for our schooling.  That’s how kind he was.

What we would call his reason for being was his indefatigable campaign to make Guinarona a town.  He wrote thousands of petitions, position papers, resolutions and letters to President Marcos, Mrs. Imelda Marcos, the Congress, and every government official of note.  As regards this objective, he died a frustrated man.  Guinarona is seven kilometers from Dagami and six kilometers from Burauen–hence Congress reasoned that Guinarona could not become a town due to these proximities.  (Hello?  Isn’t Metro Manila composed of contiguous towns, with nary a space between them?  And why can’t we have something like that in the countryside for development’s sake?)

Now he and his family are all gone, except for the youngest son.

We sorely miss our dear JOSE B. RAQUEL, the Father of Guinarona.