Merry mayhem of May

Understandably, the recently concluded national elections were the not-so-merry mayhem of May 2010 [ specially for the defeated ].  It’s a done deal and there’s nothing we can do about it.  So there but for the grace of God go all of us Filipinos…

Without those godawful national elections, the usual, annual, merry mayhem of May in the Philippines is the joyous, unending stream of town fiestas all over the country.  Starting on 01 May is the time-honored, traditional month-long fiesta of Antipolo in honor of the legendary and miraculous “Nuestra Senora de la Paz y Buenviaje” Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage.  There are the weekend “Santacruzan” processions commemorating Santa Elena Augusta and the finding of the “Tunay na Krus” true Holy Cross, the most popular [ and the most delightfully campy ] of which are those of Marikina City.  The 1800s “Flores de Maria” ritual is still celebrated in many Laguna and Quezon towns like Pila, Laguna.  The first Sunday of May is the feast day of the twin Holy Crosses of the towns of Bauan and Alitagtag in Batangas celebrated with the “Sublian” and “Loua” rituals in the morning and afternoon.  04 May is the feast day of Santa Monica who is the titular patron of Angat, Bulacan and Mexico, Pampanga;  her feast day is also celebrated in Minalin, Pampanga days later on 09 May.  12 May is the feast day of “Nuestra Senora de los Desamparados” Our Lady of the Abandoned who is the titular patron of both Santa Ana, Manila and Marikina City.  13 May is the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima and it is celebrated in many new parishes in Manila and the provinces.  The second Sunday of May is the traditional feast day of San Agustin in Baliuag, Bulacan.  On 15 May is the traditional feast day of the Spanish farmer San Isidro Labrador and his wife Santa Maria Toribia de la Cabeza, and every town who has him for its titular patron celebrates its fiesta — “Parada ng mga Kalabaw” in Pulilan, Bulacan; Binan, Laguna; “Pahiyas” in Lucban and “Pa-agaw” / “Agawan” in Sariaya, Quezon;  etc..  Forty days after Easter is “Piyesta ng Pag-akyat” the Feast of the Ascension of Christ, the town fiesta of San Pablo, Laguna;  the original “festejado” image [ heirloom of the Escudero-Marasigan Javier family ] is feted with traditional pomp and pageantry on that day at the Villa Escudero.  17, 18, and 19 of May every year is the famous three-day fiesta “Obando Fertility Rites” [ a Spanish Catholic adaptation of the Filipino precolonial “Kasilonawan” fertility ritual ] of Obando, Bulacan, where many couples wishing to have children participate:  17 May is the feast day of San Pascual Baylon, 18 May that of Santa Clara de Asis, and 19 May of “Nuestra Senora de Salambao.”  22 May is the feast day of Santa Rita de Cascia who is the titular patron of Santa Rita town in Pampanga;  her feast day used to be a big celebration at the San Agustin Church during PreWar.

Attending an annual fiesta in a typical Philippine town can be a lot of fun, but attending a nationally popular town fiesta — such as the “Ati-Atihan” in Kalibo, Aklan;  the “Pahiyas” in Lucban, Quezon [ 15 May ];  the “Kasilonawan” [ Obando Fertility Rites ] in Obando, Bulacan [ 17,18, 19 May ];  the “Libad” in Apalit, Pampanga [ 28, 29, 30 June ];  the “Pagoda sa Wawa” in Bocaue, Bulacan [ first Sunday of July ] — can be difficult, very difficult.  For starters, one has to leave home [ Manila ] very early, 5:00 or 6:00 a.m., armed with cash, light food, drinks in coolers, extra clothes, comfortable footwear, portable loo for the kiddies, a camera, a videocam, a laptop, etc..  [ Attendees who trooped to the “Pahiyas” in Lucban, Quezon last 15 May 2010, Saturday, left Manila at 6:00 a.m. and arrived 9 hours later in Lucban at 3:00 p.m..  😛 ]

For the “Pahiyas” in Lucban, Quezon, it is ideal to leave at 12:00 midnight [ or even 10:00 p.m. of 14 May ] of 15 May to more or less ensure a 6:00 a.m. arrival in the town.  One can spend the whole day anyway admiring the “kiping” [ colored, pounded rice ] fiesta decorations, looking around the old town, and shopping for local delicacies and native crafts.  As in all Philippine fiestas, there are the “great bum stomach challenge” and the “great bathroom challenge” for everyone!!!

For the “Libad” in Apalit, Pampanga, it depends on what one wants to see…  On 28 and 30 June — when “Apung Iru” leaves for the Apalit church and when he returns to his Barangay Capalangan shrine —  it is almost impossible to enter the perimeter of the town after 9:00 a.m. when the devotees start massing for the processions.  28 June is the “Visperas” and “Apung Iru” leaves his Barangay Capalangan shrine at 11:00 a.m. for the “libad” fluvial parade in the Pampanga river on the way to the Apalit church.  29 June is the fiesta proper and there are masses the whole day at the Apalit church and a town-wide procession in the late afternoon.  30 June is the “Pabalik” and “Apung Iru” leaves the Apalit church after the morning masses for the fluvial parade and raucous procession back to his Barangay Capalangan shrine where he arrives at around 3:00 p.m..  From 22-30 June there is the traditional, big Kapampangan “tiangge” surrounding the Apalit church.  As in all Philippine fiestas, there are the “great bum stomach challenge” and the “great bathroom challenge” for everyone!!!  Ideally, one should have a contact in Apalit to arrange day accommodations [ the bathrooms!!! ], meals, boat rentals [ for those who want to join the “Libad” fluvial parade ], tour of the town, shopping destinations, buying local delicacies, etc..


Funny story about the “great bum stomach challenge” and the “great bathroom challenge” during the “Visperas” of the Apalit fiesta years ago:

That year, my good friends antique collector and creator of the “Museo de La Salle” Jo Panlilio, multi-awarded writer, director, and megawit Floy Quintos, and a very successful and famous showbiz personality whom we shall call “dear friend” joined me for the Apalit fiesta.  After successfully and literally eating our way through several Arnedo and Espiritu relatives’ houses in Barangay Capalangan and Barangay Sulipan, we finally exited through to MacArthur Highway’s heavy traffic on our way to yet another Arnedo and Espiritu relative’s house, this time in Barangay San Juan, the “poblacion” of Apalit…

Just as we exited from Barangay Sulipan to MacArthur Highway, “dear friend,” who had eaten so much, informed us that he had to go to the bathroom.

A few minutes later, as the unwelcome vision of heavy traffic loomed leading to the Apalit “Crossing,” “dear friend,” now sweating profusely and coldly, told us that it was imperative that he go to the bathroom immediately… or disaster for us!!!

“Mamah, EVAKalawkatigbak na talaga… !!!”  “dear friend” muttered frantically, shivering from the airconditioning.  With that desperate utterance he jumped out of the SUV…

So mustering all the courage he had, “dear friend” repeatedly and noisily rang the doorbell of the house nearest to us and requested, nay begged, to use their bathroom.  They very graciously acceded and ushered him inside their neat, newish house…

The quickwitted Jo Panlilio commented dryly:  “Ah, the miracle at GA-RA-BAN-DAL…”

[ Garabandal, Spain:  the site of controversial Marian apparitions from the 1960s-70s ]

Garabandal, of all things???!!!  The sheer nostalgia for the 1970s cracked us up!!!

With his characteristic perfect timing and delivery, Floy Quintos outdid the irrepressible Jo Panlilio by comically quipping:

“What Garabandal???  ‘A-PO-CA-LYPSE NOOOW’!!!”

“Apocalypse Now” indeed!!!  Bwahahahahah!!!

My face and Jo Panlilio’s were practically torn to two laughing our heads off!!!

Harharhar!!!   😀   😀   😀



  1. May 25, 2010 at 12:17 pm


    I transferred your interesting comment to the blog post “Serious questions, stupid answers” where it belongs.

    Thank you.

    Toto Gonzalez

  2. May 24, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Jejemon is our new VICE GANDA !

  3. May 15, 2010 at 6:11 pm


    I transferred your interesting comment to the blog post “Serious questions, stupid answers” where it belongs.

    Thank you.

    Toto Gonzalez

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