The tradition of fiestas

THE Philippines they say has the most number of celebrations or feasts to commemorate an event. Because of the influence of the Spanish and its friars usually fiestas are celebrations for patron saints.

The Philippines being a religious nation, all puroks, barangays, towns, municipalities have their patron saints, and there are fiestas always in honor of these saints.

The fiesta is for thanksgiving for blessings bestowed upon the people and the area.

Fiestas are always causes for gatherings and celebrations and Filipinos love fiestas. And what comes with celebrations, food of course.

The lechon, the roasted pig, is a highlight feature served during a fiesta. Tourists who are in town enjoy these fiestas and the abundance of food served.

Time was, when especially in small towns and municipalities, homes were open to everyone to drop by, say hello, greet each other happy fiesta, to bring food or to savor some of those prepared by the hosts.

Everyone in the neighborhood was a relative, a friend so doors were opened for a reunion.

Today, with the proliferation of bad elements desiring sinister deeds other than well wishing, invitations have been limited to friends, relatives, and guests.

Celebrating fiestas in private homes are still alive today in smaller cities and towns. Some living abroad even come home to be present in these fiestas with guests to experience this event.

This practice is practically unheard of now in metropolitan cities perhaps for safety reasons or not a practice to celebrate anymore.

A small urban city like Talisay still celebrates the feast of the patron with much preparation.

Usually the whole family prepares and everyone, especially with culinary expertise, brings out the best of their specialty dishes. This was so in the home of our Lola Asyon in Talisay.

Lola Asyon has long gone but the tradition lives on with her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

There was lechon, of course, but there was much more as prepared by the family. We were excited to taste the contribution of each. These fiestas are melancholic.

The house of Lola Asyon was a highlight of my youth when we would all gather usually in the Sunday afternoons. A whole bunch of us would jump into that tiny kidney pool (how 20 of us fitted is incomprehensible now), have banca rides along the Matab-ang river, and it was pure joy playing games with fellow cousins.

Fiestas are important events because they merge and nurture culture, history, family relationships and camaraderie, and also introduce us to new acquaintances.

We pray that the tradition of celebrating fiestas in honor of our patron saints will not be relegated to an urban legend in the future.
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