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Opinion

Obando’s prayer dance

ROSES AND THORNS - Alejandro R. Roces -
Yesterday, May 17, marked the start of the three-day feast of the town of Obando, Bulacan and, sad to say, even the Department of Tourism seems totally unaware that it was once one of our greatest local tourist attractions. There has been very little effort to revive this great heritage. In his Noli Me Tangere, for instance, Rizal wrote about how Doña Pia gave birth to Maria Clara after she danced on the feast of San Pascual in the shrine of Obando. The authorities are talking or encouraging local tourism, but they seem to have no knowledge of our touristic traditions.

At this time of the year, childless couples used to make pilgrimages to Obando to perform a prayer dance imploring San Pascual Baylon to give them a child. (In Spanish, Baylon means "fond of dancing".) Two other saints were also implored, Santa Clara, who with St. Francis, founded the Poor Clares and Our Lady of the Conception, whose image was found inside a fishing net so that she was popularly known as Our Lady Caught in a Salambao. Devotees who made pilgrimages to Rome were called romeros. In time, all pilgrims were called romeros, whether they went to Rome or Obando.

Obando was literally the dance center of the Philippines. The dance prayers there showed the Filipino at their "dancingest". Although it was a religious pilgrimage, everything was fun. The romeros from Manila started from Tutuban. And here’s the English translation of the Tagalog doggerels they sang on the way:

Oh, all-glorious Saint Paschal,
We ask you through a fandango
Deliver us from all evil,
that we arrive at Obando.
Santa Clara, so purely pare
My solemn vow to you is this:
When I arrive in Obando
I will dance the fandango.
brP>Single ladies also danced for a husband. Here are two samples of their songs:
To the miraculous worker,
Proffer a ceremonial taper,
That he grant a husband to each member
Of the contradicting gender.
Santa Clara, so purely pure,
That is all I request from you
Bestow me seventeen husbands,
From their blows I will not complain.

The Tourism Department has launched many laudable tourist programs. They have rightly concentrated on tourist spots that are opened year round. But they must not neglect the old festivities that are part of our history and folk tradition. Classic May examples are the feast of San Isidro Labrador which fell on May 15 and the feast of San Pascual Baylon celebrated in Obando yesterday.

vuukle comment

CLASSIC MAY

DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM

IN SPANISH

MARIA CLARA

NOLI ME TANGERE

OBANDO

OUR LADY CAUGHT

POOR CLARES AND OUR LADY OF THE CONCEPTION

SAINT PASCHAL

SAN PASCUAL BAYLON

SANTA CLARA

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