Silay Christmas Village 2013

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By Ver F. Pacete

As I See It

Thursday, December 5, 2013

SILAY was founded as a pueblo in 1760. The Christian community started to grow with close affiliation to the Catholic Church. When Fr. Eusebio Manuel Locsin from Molo, Iloilo became parish priest of Silay on November 1, 1840, he started the construction of a church made of stone masonry and bricks to replace the one made of light materials.

He invited the progressive businessmen of Jaro and his relatives to come to Silay and develop fertile lands to become "haciendas." That was the start of the "sweet life" for Silay. The "hacendados" needed workers to break the soil and plant sugar cane points. Sugar plantations became so vast that it needed sugar mills to produce muscovado sugar for local consumption and for export.

"Misa de Gallo" has been a tradition in the life of the Ilonggos. Silay "hacendados" would want their "jornaleros" to attend the mass first before going to work. As early as three o'clock in the morning, the "hacendados and jornaleros" were there already at the plaza in front of the Church waiting for the "sacristan mayor" to open the church gate at four o'clock. Workers coming from far places would bring lanterns to light their way. Houses along the trail would also display lanterns by their windows to light the path of the morning walkers.

The workers would be hanging their lanterns in the twigs of the trees at the plaza. While waiting for the mass, the men would play their string musical instruments. The pieces are about Christmas. Some actors among the workers would present a nativity scene dramatizing the search for the inn of Joseph and Mary until they reached the stable. Men and women would dance and sing for the crowd who woke up early to see this "Daigon."

The mass would start at four o'clock after the bells at the belfry had awakened the entire Silay community. The sound of the bell is compounded by the roosters' crow that sounded like trumpets heralding the coming of the Lord. After "Misa de Gallo," the workers and the "hacendados" would go back to the plaza to share their food... ibos, suman, but-ong, and chicken adobo. When the sun is up, the workers would traverse a way leading to the cane fields with enthusiasm in their hearts to wake up early again next morning for another "Misa de Gallo."

This is the origin of Silay Christmas Village. It has surpassed hard and easy times, even the turmoil in sugar industry and the politics of men. In 2013, the Silaynons are back again to convert Silay public plaza into a Christmas Village. The barangay captains will adorn the Belen characters and the giant Christmas tree with life-sized angels. The teachers will entrench the village with their Christmas "arko." The "arko" is a symbol of welcome gesture in Philippine society. Pilgrims and tourists are welcome to Silay, the most outstanding tourism-oriented LGU in the Philippines for two consecutive years - 2012 and 2013.

The Christmas Village organizers work hand in hand also with the Parish of San Diego, a pilgrim church for the "nine mornings" mass for the church goers to receive blessings and grace. The other features of the village include the food court, games and amusement area, and the RTW "tianggi” selling toys and apparel. The village will open on December 8 and there will be big events to happen at the covered court sponsored by the Silay City government, employees, teachers, civic organizations, church groups and the Liga ng mga Barangay.

The Silay City Tourism Office will provide tour guides for the Christmas
Village for the school children and organizations coming to Silay in big buses. Hofileña Museum, Balay Negrense Museum, Jalandoni Museum and Silay Museum are also joining the village with their own style of Christmas packages for the tourists. Silay Christmas Village is a consistent winner in the cultural presentation offering of the Department of Tourism and the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines. The theme this year is "Hope, Peace, Unity and Prosperity."

Silaynons dare to say, "Christmas is more fun in sharing, in loving, and in caring. Christ is the gift and we become consistent recipients if we follow what the Celebrator wants on His birthday."

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on December 05, 2013.


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