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Of fiestas, homecoming, and reunions

We are coming home for our town fiesta today, in Ronda. After a few days in the same month, we are having our family reunion. In January next year, we are launching our Centennial Grand Homecoming for the one 100th anniversary of the founding of our alma mater, the University of Visayas. There is a common thread that binds all these, fiestas, reunions, and homecomings, and that is the need to renew friendships, kinships and other relationships.

In Philippine culture, fiestas (we inherited from the Spaniards), are not just religious festivities, where the patron saint is the center of veneration and the parish priest is the chief executive officer. It is also a social activity where people renew their relationships and strengthen their ties. They share foods, drinks, and stories. They sing and dance together and eat together, drink together and laugh at each other’s jokes.

Fiestas are also political activities where the Mayor and the other local politicians displays their respective  political clout and influence by taking pride in hosting the governor and his party, the congressman and his entourage and other very important and very influential political personalities. It is also an opportune time to check on the loyalty of the barangay captains and kagawads, and other ward leaders. These local leaders would usually come to kiss the hand of the Mayor and offer whatever they could bring, like lechons, wines, cakes and other foods and drinks. These are physical tokens of loyalty and respect for the town’s top political honcho. The fiesta is also a time to crown the town’s beauty as the fiesta queen. It is also a major economic activity where local stores, restaurants, and other establishments make a “killing” from unusually brisk sales during the fiesta.

Homecomings are alumni affairs where graduates who are now pillars in commerce, industry and in their respective professions would come home and visit their alma mater and meet their former classmates. These are really, to some alumni, a chance to show off their economic and financial prosperity, display their beautiful wife and successful children, the source of their pride and joy. But to some others, it is a time to manifest a sense of gratitude to the institution, the faculty and the classes who have had some roles in molding their character and influencing their career, business, and professions. It is also an opportunity to take a look at former girlfriends and boyfriends who are now someone else’s spouses.

Family and clan reunions are occasions to express gratitude to the patriarch or matriarch, and a time to heal the pains of some siblings’ rivalries or cousins’ quarrels. These are times for reconciliations and forgiveness, to forget whatever conflicts and move on with peaceful and joyful hearts.

All these three this writer will experience today and in the next few days and few months. It is the time to experience healing of relationships. It is time to set aside whatever differences brought about by politics, money, property or power. Life is too short.  Whatever remains in our timeline shall be better spent friendships and understanding rather than in strife and disillusionment. Fiestas, homecomings, and reunions are ways to make our life happier, gentler and more positive.

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