Women celebrate superiority over men
LIVE FEED - Bibsy M. Carballo (The Philippine Star) - March 13, 2015 - 12:00am

It was one early morning in the ‘70s, when all women had won their right to be superior over their husbands and men in general. This was the three-day celebration of The Summer Solstice more popularly known as Tadtarin or Tatarin. The event had been written as a short story by Nick Joaquin at a period in our history when men and women were referred to as Dons and Donyas, and Senyoras and Senyoritas. Later on, Joaquin turned the story into a play titled Tatarin: A Witches Sabbath in Three Acts, which much later was adapted for the screen by Tikoy Aguiluz with Edu Manzano, Rica Peralejo and Dina Bonnevie in the cast and titled Tatarin.

In addition to being regarded as Joaquin’s favorite tale, it is also his most acclaimed and most controversial. The story tells of the Tadtarin three-day ritual performed by women who dance around a Balete tree and ask the god of fertility to give them the children they desire.

In Joaquin’s story, Donya Lupeng and husband Don Paeng are informed by stables driver Entoy that his wife Amda has participated in the Tatarin fertility ritual. Donya Lupeng asks Entoy why he allows his wife to do such a thing. Entoy’s answer astounds them. “I dare not touch her…It is true Senyora. The spirit is in her. She is the Tadtarin. She must do as she pleases… At such times, she is not my wife. She is the wife of the river… the crocodile… the moon.”

The next day, Donya Lupeng starts investigating just how many people believe and participate in such a ritual. She soon finds out that Guido, Don Paeng’s cousin, has joined the Tatarin ritual, lifting her skirt and kissing her feet. Donya Lupeng tells Don Paeng about the incident, including the detail of her feet getting kissed. It is obvious how much she enjoys the attention. Don Paeng, on the other hand, gets disgusted and reasons that a woman needs love and respect, not adoration.

Having discovered her new power, Donya Lupeng asks her husband to kiss her feet. As Joaquin describes the scene, “She raised her skirts and contemptuously thrust out a naked foot. He grasped the white foot and kissed it savagely, kissed the step, the sole, the frail ankle...”

Tatarin stars Edu Manzano, Dina Bonnevie and Rica Peralejo /strong>

Few were happy with the film, least of all the critics. They considered the “kissing of the feet” demeaning to men, making women the “rulers of men.” The presentation of pagan rituals and Christian rites, superstitious and religious beliefs, the old and the new were seen to be more confusing. Contrasting descriptions of the Philippines during its pre-colonial past also led reviewers to regard Joaquin as one unable to accept this time in our history because he was more engrossed in the colonial history of the country.

We, however, welcome this story as one of the few where women are given the upperhand if only for those three special days of celebrating the festival of the Tatarin.

(E-mail your comments to bibsyfotos@yahoo.com or text me at 0917-8991835.)

A WITCHES SABBATH DON PAENG DONYA LUPENG EDU MANZANO ENTOY JOAQUIN TADTARIN TATARIN
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