TOMORROW is the eve of the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, which falls on the 29th of every September.
Before I continue, to those who don't know (and I didn't, till I looked him up), St. Michael is not an actual saint, but the leader of all other angels and the army of God. (So I guess that includes Charlie's and Locsin.)
Anyway, according to www.catholic.org (yes, it's that time of year), St. Michael has four main responsibilities: “the first is to combat Satan; the second is to escort the faithful to heaven at their hour of death; the third is to be a champion of all Christians and the Church itself; and the fourth is to call men from life on Earth to their heavenly judgment.”
Aside from that, he's also the “patron of grocers, soldiers, doctors, mariners, paratroopers, police and sickness.”
Yeah, to say the guy has a lot on his shoulders would be an understatement, although I really thought he was also the patron of drunkards, I mean, people who appreciate the drink. After all, St. Michael is synonymous with beer, at least here in the Philippines, Spain and some other Latin American countries. And don't forget gin… never forget the gin.
But there's another reason I'm bringing up the feast of St. Michael. He's the patron saint of Argao, a town some 60 kilometers south of the city.
My father's family hails from there, but my grandparents moved to the city right after the war where they raised their brood of seven on Urgello St. My father and his siblings never called Argao home, but they always visited on special occasions.
And so have I since my return more than 20 years ago. I have my father's cousin Manuel “Mawe” Sarchez to thank for that. Every year, like clockwork, he calls to invite me, and I've always done my best to oblige.
It is, after all, a time of solemn prayer, full of gratitude for the year's blessings, and a revisiting of time-worn traditions. It is a celebration of camaraderie and family. I mean, where and when else do I get the chance to hang out with priests and discuss priestly matters? Really.
But most importantly, I go because I like to be immersed in the spirit of conviviality, which I feel whenever I attend a fiesta in Argao. And it helps that the Sarchezes have always treated me like an extended part of their family and for that I'm eternally grateful.
So no, it's not about the drinking, of which there will be lots of. (Although my uncle has mellowed down over the years, he is still a force to be reckoned with when it comes to round-the-clock imbibing.)
And it's not about the videoke singing. Not at all. (Although I've already jotted the list of songs I plan to tackle. I tend to start with '70s mellow rock and work my way to Matt Monroe and Tony Bennett when the clock strikes midnight.)
As for the food, I've shied away from the humba, the lechon, the humba (did I already write humba?) since shedding 50 kilos in the last five years.