Sunday, February 8, 2009

Viva Santa Marta de Pateros - Fiesta 2009

It was quite a pleasant surprise when the procession passed by our street early in the morning. We somehow got used to having it after lunch, after each barangay went their separate ways due to some disagreements with the caretakers of the original image (I still do not know the entire story behind this schism so I would not dwell on it.). Anyway, the marshals said this procession was the officially sanctioned one, and that it will go through all the traditional route.

And of course, I'm happy to note that the old ladies and gentlemen who dance the Pandango for Sta Marta were in full force in their colorful patadyongs and swaying graciously to the lively folk music. Unfortunately, music was again provided not by a brass band but played through an amplifier mounted on a truck. It would have really been better if the organizers had tapped the services of a brass band instead of using canned music. I went to both the Ati-Atihan Festival in Aklan and the Sto Nino procession in Roxas Blvd last January, and in both occasions there were as many as 50 brass bands and/or Drum and Lyre contingents! Why can't we have at least one brass band provide real music for our beloved Sta Marta? For the life of me!

Do you remember the paper mache horse? This used to be a staple in the tiange that would miraculously spring up in the main road in front of the church come fiesta time. Seems like it's making a comeback as well.

Everyone was worried that this chubby little boy would accidentally lose grip of the mock bolo he was holding and spinning around while dancing. Again, a happy return to traditions, although in the olden days a fully grown up man is designated as the magbabalut who slew the crocodile. And where was the crocodile, by the way? As the good Bishop San Diego noted in his homily the previous day, the river has dried up so the crocodiles are now amongst us. Touche!

Young people also made their presence felt, and made a very clear statement that the new generation of Pandango dancers ang mamanata are here to stay. Their shirts say it all: New Generation. Hail to the Youth!

I am not sure if what they brought out for the procession is the Sta Marta Matanda (original image) or the Callejera or Bata (new image). During the Mass to designate the San Roque Parish Church as the Diocesan Shrine of Sta Marta, people were talking about the return of the old image in the place of honor. I do hope that the conflict had been resolved, and that the designation of Pateros as the Diocesan Shrine had brought about its first miracle in the hearts of the devotees of Sta Marta!

An of course, the pasubo will always be awaited by the throng of people following the image. Although balut is no longer thrown to the the people from houses along the procession route, goodies still abound. And people are getting smarter and smarter year after year, employing a host of tricks to get the most out of the pasubo - including the use of upside down umbrellas and big boxes.

The government and the private sector are still trying their best to clean up the Pateros River. I look forward to the day when we can have the Pagoda in the river again. Who knows, the ducks may yet return to a clean river once again - and the brass bands can start playing the pandango instead of the empty canned music played from loudspeakers. And yes, maybe we can find the courage again to slay the crocodiles in our midst.

Viva Sta. Marta!