Sunday, November 25, 2012

my hometown series: a typical barrio fiesta

having been ruled for about 300 years by the spaniards, some of us may still refer the small unit of government in the philippines as barrio but most of the time today, it's now being referred as a barangay. the traces of the once spanish dominion on our country, have slowly been fading away - save maybe, christianity. with the catholic religion deeply rooted in our culture, each place has its own yearly celebration that either honors Jesus or venerates patron saints.

part of my agenda of taking a brief vacation back home was to celebrate with my family the yearly fiesta celebration in our far-flung little barrio. as my mother has put it, it's a form of thanksgiving for the blessings throughout the year by sharing a feast to everyone, family, friends and even strangers.

Our barrio's little chapel for San Roque (Saint Roch)

i spent my first 11 years in this secluded place where people relish life's joys and pains in a narrowed down and uncomplicated manner. i may now live in a stark contrast from what i had then, this special spot in my heart for my home will always remain. as they say, there's no place like home.

i just can't help myself getting emo when i recede from the chaos and into the heartwarming company of the people dearest to me.

oh let me end this pining and let me show you instead, the quirkiness of a typical fiesta in the little barrios.

in our home, pork meat is the main ingredient to every dish that we laid down on our table for our guests. there was only one time when we prepared a few seafood dishes but that was due to my earnest ogling and that didn't do a repeat scene ever. in rural areas just like my place, having pork as a meal is closest to a celebration because it is deemed as expensive and most of the time in the year, everyone has fish and vegetables. it's ironic that a modern man in the city who's particularly watching his diet, will likely react with a question, "how bad can it be?"

as if all-pork dishes weren't enough, we had the roasted pig on top of everything. we don't condone child labor and the young boy in the photo is my cousin's son who is quite a little rascal with several tricks up his sleeve. i think he intentionally held the rod knowing there was a camera.

the feast is normally served during lunch and at the night of the fiesta, most people congregate to a certain place which is most likely near to the barangay hall where officials hold their sessions. probably due to misuse of terms, this fenced concrete area is commonly being referred as "tennis-an" which is actually a basketball court and the space can no way accommodate a tennis game. but this misuse somehow makes up a perky characteristic.

within the fenced court was a disco for a fee which is also a part of the fund raising effort of the barangay. with sound blasting on ginormous stereo boxes and the neon lights, those people who shelled out, danced the night away. as what i had imagined, "gangnam style" was in constant loop all throughout that night.

Sitting beside some random kids with their mother

because our small troop didn't like the whatever turmoil inside the court, we settled just fine in one of the stalls along the street. people watching can really be an amusing thing to do, i must say.

for the lack of better things to do and the disco fever still in its heights, we decided to head to another stall to get a few drinks, the "tambay" way. it's so seldom that we joined this other fiesta event because we are plainly domesticated individuals and we are just as satisfied at the confines of our home. but we did it differently this time around.

pardon me with my clearly amused face. the photo was actually meant for my sister who was in deep conversation with a grandma who was being incessantly talkative due to the works of the alcohol! the grandma was actually with another grandma (her drinking buddy) and they even overtook us with our drinking session. these two tipsy grandmas surely made our night!

Need I say more?

An example of a "tambay"

Quick photo with the queen of the night

past midnight when the dance floor was cleared from the hyped people, the coronation of three young ladies took the stage. this is another fund raising event where each candidate would distribute envelopes to people for donations to the barangay. the candidate who could raise the highest amount wins. there is another event held days prior for this; which people call "last counting" and of course, it comes with another disco night.

in between the coronation and the long-winded speeches of the political figures, the audience was entertained  by a dance group and a couple of young girls who sang. years ago when TV hasn't yet killed the radio star, the barangay also invited radio drama artists to act on stage to entertain people. it was a significant and splendid moment for the people as they could already put faces in the voices they normally heard over the radio.

because the speeches were terribly long and several ticks away would already be the wee hours of the morning, i amused myself by taking photos and this particular kid caught my fancy.  i bet he was already sleepy.

i would love it more if i was able to capture this grandma's face!

anyway even if my night was slightly marred with the political speeches which reminds me that our forsaken dirt road is now at its best (yes election is coming...), it was still a very humbling experience and i also got to bond with my cousin's family that night. moments that i would not trade with any other. the fiesta's theme "balik sa bukid" which translates to "returning to the country/rural area" had said it all for me.


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