May 25 is the fiesta of my hometown. My high school friends and I were supposed to go there but a series of events messed our travel plans which made us decide to just try some other time.
What’s making us want to go home are fond memories of our childhood. Being a small town , the town fiesta was one of the events that we looked forward to during summer vacation. Also, many townmates who have migrated to foreign lands or established residences in other parts of the country go home too and the fiesta becomes a reunion for families and friends.
Even strangers could tell the town fiesta is approaching through the banderitas (streamers or banners) across the streets put up days before the fiesta. Their different colors make the streets very festive. Perya or temporary vendors or bazaars are set up on the streets. During the younger days of my older siblings (I’m the youngest) a circus used to come to town and our father would bring them to watch. The travelling circus was no longer practiced during my time. But I got to see the fair in the town plaza where there was a Ferris wheel and other simple rides. There were stalls for games where you could play and win prizes or bet.
Households prepared food for the celebration.
It was only during fiestas that balloons were sold in our town. When I was a young girl, the balloon makers ( well, balloon blowers/fillers probably is the correct term) rented the ground floor of our neighbor and we kids observed how they filled the balloons with air from a tank. I learned later that the air is called helium.
Early in the morning we would hear the band marching around town and we would go to the main streets where they passed to watch them. Then there’s a parade, a much simpler one when I was a kid compared to now.
In the afternoon there’s a procession of the Patron Saint which is really the reason for the celebration.
In the evening there were programs held in the town plaza. There could be an amateur singing contest.
The last time I was home for our town fiesta in 2019 there was a contest for Barangays for the best Arko (Arch) I’ve heard that this year, there is a beauty contest.
The folk song Pandangguhan comes to my mind particularly these lines.
Kung may pista sa aming bayan (When there’s fiesta in our town)
Ang lahat ay nagdiriwang (Everybody celebrates)
May lechon bawat tahanan (There’s roast pig in every home)
May gayak pati simbahan (Even the church is decorated)
Paglabas ni Santa Mariang mahal ( When beloved St Mary appears)
Kami ay taos na nagdarasal ( We pray sincerely)
Prusisyon dito ay nagdaraan (The procession passes here)
Kung kaya’t ang iba’y nag-aabang ( So some people await)
May tumutugtog at may sumasayaw (Some are playing music and some are dancing)
Mayro’ng sa galak ay napapasigaw (There are some who shout in glee)
Ang pista sa bayan namin ay gan’yan (That’s how fiesta is like in our town)
Ang saya’y tila walang katapusan (The merriment seems endless)
The food served may not be lechon but there’s food served. The patron saint of the town might not be St. Mary like it is St. Peter in our town . But the song really captures the atmosphere , the essence of town fiestas.