Feast day

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By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics also

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


ONE of the long-held traditions of this Catholic nation is the celebration of the annual fiesta by every community, be it a city or mere village of a municipality.

This group of islands became a Spanish colony and Catholicism was introduced to its pagan population. Winning them to the faith was quite romantically chronicled in our early history on Mactan island, through the simple heroism of Datu Lapulapu killing Capitan Magellan.

The consequence of the said incidents is that our cities, towns, villages, and even our sitios have been enticed to have patron saints to honor on a chosen date as a symbol of religious worship.

The tradition has long been opposed by some of our leaders and social scientists as expensive and wasteful. And so, there was a time in the sixties when a move to “abolish” fiestas was undertaken by some innovative and progressive legislators like then senators Raul Manglapus, Manuel Manahan, and Emmanuel Pelaez.

It was just like what is happening today to the “pork barrrel" issue. They had many supporters for the abolition of the fiesta.

But the movement did not prosper. Parishes, cities, towns, and the small enclaves of communities continued to hold annual feast days on specific dates of the year.

The issue against the fiestas eventually succumbed to the usual end unsupported or unpopular movements. Thus, it is clear that having patron saints and celebrating in their honor annual feast days in each community is an accepted tradition.

Yesterday, in my hometown Balamban, the first novena prayer for our annual fiesta in honor of St. Francis of Assisi was held.

It is interesting to note that during the past couple years, our Feast Day was not just a day of the usual “feeding” of visitors as it was in the years past. The event is now celebrated through an agricultural market day where the barrios are asked to have booths at the St. Francis Academy grounds and sell various fruits and vegetables.

Yesterday, there were competitions of native games as well. The products were sold at bargain prices for the benefit of the town folk.

The event, as in the past, was honored with the presence of the governor and other provincial and town officials. Visiting priests, as well as new ones who were supposedly assigned to man the parish, also graced the occasion.

Our town lost its parish priest a few months ago to a heart problem. We have a new one, plus two assistants.

This means that the cycle of traditional events that the parishes of our country are heirs to, are once again starting in my hometown. And once again, life goes on as it has always been, for many decades now, and of course, many decades still to come.

I can say that feast days in our communities will continue as it has done so many decades before.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 26, 2013.

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