TOWN FIESTAS are
religious events but they too are civic and social functions which
people use as an opportunity to get together, pray together, or simply
spend happy times together. Rural villages or barangays hold fiestas too
to entertain people from other villages or towns who invited them as
guests in this annual celebration. Some towns in Romblon hold more than
one fiesta. Are the people very religious or are they too hard up so
they need entertainment and merrymaking?
Rinzi F. Fadrilan
posted the following message on Jan 11, 2005 about the Feast of the
“The capital town of
Romblon celebrates its town fiesta in January in honor of Sto. Niño de
directory of the Philippines lists St. Joseph as the patron saint of the
cathedral parish. And Sto. Nino de Romblon is listed as secondary patron
“The feast day of
St. Joseph is March 19. Does the capital town celebrate two town fiestas
- one in January and another on March 19?
“Long before Romblon
became the seat of the diocese, the local parish has been known as
Parish of St. Joseph which was established in 1631.”
“Is somebody in a
position to ask for an answer to the query so far posted? Someone close
to the bishop or parish priest of Romblon, Romblon?”
Julius (JR) Rapada
“Thanks for the
info, Rinzi. Celebrating the fiesta in honor of the Sto. Niño, St.
Joseph or whoever was not my intention to raise here -- who am I to
question that. My issue is, if our church leaders could draw a
line/boundary and get involve to stop "politicizing the fiesta" from our
local officials? Everybody in town is aware this is happening. I never
heard a word from the bishop himself.”
“JR, I doubt that
you can motivate the politicians to refrain from taking advantage of
such a great and virtually free opportunity to do political work. I
don't know but the bishop cannot work by telling the politicians to stop
politicizing it. The bishop has to convince the people to stop the
politicians from doing that. The bishop might find better response by
going to the people directly, rather than the politicians. The
politicians have everything to gain by using the fiesta for political
“If I were a
politician, I would take advantage of the town fiesta as a forum for
publicizing my cause. It is not illegal.
“To stop it, the
people have to show distaste for such a political show. I have a sneaky
feeling the poor people of Romblon like the political shenanigans during
the town fiesta. It can be entertaining and a way of sharing the
“The Sto. Niño is
brought from one house to another. I don't know the reason for this
“What I observe
though is the Filipinos in the US are more religious than the Filipinos
in the Philippines.”
“They cannot afford
to totally divorce themselves from politicians. Doing so would mean
cutting the fund source for their religious formation programs and
church construction projects.
“My experiences as a
former town fiesta executive taught me to work well with religious,
civic and political leaders in planning and organizing a successful
fiesta celebration. I know of no better way than making them own the
event and not merely part of it.”
replied to Minnie’s comment:
“This attitude is
quite unChristian. Aren't they honoring the same Holy Child Jesus? Why
should they be jealous or envious of what other devotees are doing?
“The visit of the
Sto.Niño image/icon to homes of devotees would enable the
family/household to pray together and meditate on the virtues of the
Holy Child. Does the family give any donation (monetary) to the
organizer of the home visits?
“Why do you think
so, Minnie? I thought it is the other way around.
contributors to the fiesta kitty are the local politicians - from the
Congressman down the Sanggunian members. In appreciation of their hefty
monetary donations, they are invited to crown the fiesta queens and made
to speak to the townspeople about their "good works" as public servants.
including the bishop are also indebted to politicians who are regular
fund donors to their programs including church construction projects.”
“Rinzi, that's my
experience. I thought that Filipinos in the US practice the Catholic
traditions more. Maybe, other people have different experiences.
“In the US, the
Catholic media is quite prominent. I am sure they also have Catholic
media in the Philippines, I am sure. The Catholic is the largest group
in the US so we seem to hear more news about the Pope than of the
Anglican, Baptist, or Presbyterian leaders. Maybe, since I am in a
predominantly Catholic Boston, Catholic media is more prominent. Baka
naman sa ibang lugar hindi.
“When the Sto. Niño
came to our house, we did not give any money to the organizer nor was
any money solicited from us. I guess, if you want to give money, they
would have taken it. But there was no mention of money.
“I feel sorry for
priests. They seem to be blamed for every failure in the Philippines
since most politicians are Catholics. If the town fiesta has become
politicized, it is the bishop's problem. If people spend too much money
on town fiestas, how come the bishop is keeping quiet? Mabuti na lang
hindi ako naging pare.
“One thing, though,
I find the Americans of whatever belief to be open-minded when it comes
to my Blessed Leon mission. Protestants and Jews have asked names to be
put in the Blessed Leon registry. I make it clear that I am not there to
spread the Catholic religion. I am there to help the needy, the
seriously ill and dying of whatever faith.
“I could have just
stayed home and did nothing, especially since I don't like to give
public talks. I am just doing what I think God wants me to do. Isn't it
perfect timing that as soon as I got off the military, Blessed Leon came
to my life?”
“There was a study
conducted in the Philippines Minnie. They've found out that the devotion
to the Sto. Niño is the most popular among Filipinos. If that is true in
Boston - true here in LA.”
“Sto. Niño must be
very popular. In Boston alone where there aren't too many Filipinos,
there are three Sto. Niño groups, celebrating His feast on the first
Sunday of January separately. Sometimes, nag-iinggitan sila.
Because of the above
they are untouchables? Utang na loob? As I know, no matter what -
it is the moral obligation of the church leaders to protect the moral
issues of the Church and its flock. Bishop/clergy has all the right to
He also replied to
“This is sad Rinzi
but TRUE! I could not think of any other way on this regard but through
our church leaders, otherwise, this habit will go on - and it's not
“I don't think that
practice of the politicians can be stopped. Even in Boston, they do
that. You should see those politicians joining the St. Patrick's parade.
Remember the Rose Bowl parade in CA when Gov. Davis tried to stop Arnold
Schwarzenneger from participating in the parade. It is free publicity
She further argued:
“It is bigger than
the Bishop and clergy's power. It is a sociological tradition. Besides,
I don't see anything wrong with that practice. The only possible wrong
with it is that people spend too much during fiestas, even going to the
extent of borrowing money.
“But people need to
celebrate, whether it is the town fiesta or independence day or
“This has been
discussed already before kasi nga sa Romblon, pagkatapos ng fiesta ay
broke na ang mga tao...biro mo a fiesta that lasts for nine days! Kahit
na siguro yung mga mayaman na mga ciudad like Batangas or Cavite
cannot afford this extended fiesta. And now due to hard time
financially, why not the fiests from Friday (tonton ) to Sunday
Rinzi posted the
“On Sunday, January
16 the parishioners of the Cathedral Parish in Romblon capital town and
the Sto. Niño Parish in Danao, Cajidiocan are celebrating their parish
fiesta. Happy fiesta to all!
“I find a very good
message in the Romblomanon's devotion to the Sto. Niño- that of working
together as brothers/sisters and friends. God calls us to give attention
to the "little ones" in our midst.
“Here in RDL we have
our own local version of working together and caring for the "little
ones" in our communities. This we aptly call "sanrokan".”
Rinzi responded to
“Also true in the
Diocese of Romblon. Two parishes have devotions to the Santo Niño as
their patron saint - the Cathedral Parish in Romblon capital town and
the Sto, Niño Parish in Danao, Cajidiocan.
“The fiesta in
Romblon ends tomorrow, January 16. Up to now, I do not understand why
the Cathedral Parish is celebrating its fiesta on the feast of its
secondary patron, Sto. Niño de Romblon (third Sunday of January) instead
of March 19, the feast of St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church,
its primary patron.
“Does the parish
also celebrate another fiesta in March on the occasion of the feast of
“Can anybody from
the capital town please enlighten RDListers on why the two patron
of San Agustin responded:
“I know some of us
have different religions but at least all of us have our own faith. I
remembered the fiesta of Señor Sto. Niño since it was celebrated on
January. Even mabaskog ang humbak we cross the mighty Romblon
channel to attend the fiesta and it was our choice because we have faith
we believed in His Blessings and His Miracles.
“It should not be
questioned why we celebrate fiesta January or March for Sto. Niño or for
St. Joseph. Who are the community, it is the people. Why we should deny
the majority of the fiestas when only few/liberals are not for it. In
San Agustin we observed fiesta in August and October , but not lavishly.
St. Augustine was born in October and died in August. Even before we
were born that was the celebration of our folks. Did people complain?
No. The community wanted it - kalipayan ng tawo. It was their
faith to St. Augustine to honor and praise Him. To give thanks to the
Lord for His many blessings.
have their faith also so they donate money to the church, some in kind
and some in deeds. The church is part of the community and the people
are part of the community. If you are in different party/ kontra
they dont get involved walang pakialam dahil sa politics. The
whole community should get involve for the success of the town fiesta.
The celebration has 3 categories, Biniray Fluvial celebration for our
patron, 2nd day for all schools intramurals, 3rd day civic/socio
celebration so all are being celebrated. The tradition that my parents
practiced that we children are proud of was we let our friends from
barrio /bukid come and serve them with our best foods. Because the less
fortunate people are very appreciative of the little things you can do
for them. The rich and famous people expect you to serve them. The
barrio folks are better friends; they are your friends for life.
“Hala bira! VIVA kay
“We built a big and
beautiful church in San Agustin through the efforts of Fr. Merencilla,
the former pastor of San Agustin. He raised funds by soliciting to
people and his rich friends from former parish as donors. He sent
letters to us for solicitations but most of all the poor people of our
town tried their best to build our church. What we give to the Lord is
not enough to the many blessings that He gives us. He died and suffered
for us and gave his life for all mankind.”
Rinzi replied to
“Virgie, isn't it
that all that we have comes from and belongs to God? When we contribute
money to build a church, we are only giving back a small portion of what
He gave us.”
“Thanks Virgie for
the vivid memories of Romblon fiestas. Your account on how you shared
your bounties with the poor during fiestas then reminds me of the
message in today's Gospel on the feast of the Sto. Niño.
“God orders us to
‘do a favor’ to the poor and the weak members of the community. As you
said they can be better friends - friends for life. They should be
helped to become able and contribute to the common task - building
“Here in RDL, we are
promoting the tribal virtue of ‘sanrokan’ in sharing our gifts and
talents for the common good. And with preferential attention to the
‘little ones’ who must be helped and empowered.
“The ‘little ones’
are not the children or those of minor age but those who are
insignificant, marginalized and most vulnerable members of the
Rinzi posted the
“A week before the
last town fiesta in Romblon (second Sunday of January), I asked the help
of Romblomanon listers to explain why the town fiesta of Romblon is in
January (Sto. Niño de Romblon) and not March 19, feast of St. Joseph,
the parish/diocese patron saint.
“I got two replies-
one by SMS from a former teacher in high school, Mrs. Chit
another one by email from Mr. Mon Reandelar, President of the
diocesan laity group
“The following is a
clarification from Mon:
"Kag St. Joseph
kag patron it Romblon, Romblon, and the titular (o patron) of
the Diocese of
Romblon. The Sto. Niño de Romblon is celebrated in reverence to the
historical and "miraculous" stay of the Sto. Niño here in Romblon."
in Aklan or Cebu which have also their own patron saints, the Feast of
the Sto. Niño has overshadowed the fiesta celebration of St. Joseph here
in Romblon. Of course, nobody bothers to reklamo. The Niño Jesus'
feast is really worth celebrating pompously because he deserves the
first honor. Happy Fiesta of Sto. Niño de Romblon."
The dialogue on
Romblon town fiesta did not end in January because in July the subject
of fiestas was mentioned again in reference to tourism issue.
posted the following message on July 10:
“One effective way
of hyping up tourism in Romblon is to host TV or showbiz oriented events
specially during summer. This will somehow "steal" from Boracay some of
the beach crazy urbanites who frequent that place during summer months.
Who knows these spillovers will eventually come in hordes.”
“Nonong, this is a
nice idea. Romblon tourism council, are you reading us?
“When you did this
during one of the fiestas at the capital town a few years back, did it
make a dent in Romblon tourist arrivals?
“Don't you think
that we have to reinvent our town fiestas making them festive events in
addition to their religious themes to attract visitors?
“With 17 repackaged
town fiestas, there will be 17 occasions and reasons for local and
foreign tourists to come to Romblon throughout the year.
Come and savor the richness of her traditions, culture and history.”
We're getting some good inputs now. Tama si Nonong, as a matter
of fact, any of our guests at Tiamban have just been to Boracay. There
is already a connection no matter how thin. It just needs to be
amplified and Nonong's suggestion is very logical. Can someone spearhead
this endeavor? Do we need the provincial government to lead? I
offer Tiamban as a venue gratis to the TV crew. There are other sites
“That would be a
great idea, but not just reinvent our Fiesta's, reinvent our towns and
reinvent ourselves. I 'm more positve now than I have been for a long
time that we can go down this road, and finally turn the corner.”
“Please correct me
if I am wrong... yung mga beauty contests during the Santo Niño
fiesta in Romblon (probably same conditions in other town fiestas) ay
hindi naman talaga totoong beauty contest. It is mostly money
contest. Yung mga may kaya sa bayan na may anak na babae nag-aambition..
kahit na pandak,binubuhosan nila ng pera para manalo. Ay kung ang
criterion as per Nonong, beauty, height, intelligence and breeding
ang masusunod, siguro eventually the criterion will slowly be met
because the aspirants will know that it will not be the usual money
Instead of spending money for the money contest a.k.a. popularity
contest, they should spend it na lang for the education of their
dalagitas. Educated ladies na may height at beauty,
baka pwede na.
beauty, mas magastos kasi getting good education na nga is
already expensive, cosmetic surgery pa kaya.”
“Ganoon ba, Moigs.
Hindi pala totoong
beauty contest ito. Tama si Nonong. Hindi nga papasa sa
pamantayan ng isang tunay na beauty tilt.
ang sabi ng mga may kayang contestants: "Sa inyo na ang beauty, sa akin
nagagawa ang pera. Maari kang manalo sa beauty contest kahit wala
kang beauty. Maari kang pagandahin (retoke) kung hindi ka pa kagandahan
ngayon. Maari mong bilhin ang ibang contestants sa beauty contest para
umatras sila at ikaw na lang ang iproklamang nanalo.
“Ang sabi ng
isang istambay sa kanto: "Mabuti pa ang pera may tao (retrato), pero ang
mga tao walang pera."
The dialogue on
fiestas resurfaced in September in connection with the Biniray festival
held in Batangas.
Rinzi posted this
message on Sep 18:
“Viva San Nicolas de
“We have just
returned from another successful Biniray festival in honor of Banton's
patron, San Nicolas de Tolentino today, September 18, at Roponggi Beach
Garden in Calaca, Batangas.
the festival ExCom headed by Chair Ms. Mahlie Fonte.
“The weather was
fine the whole day, a common occurrence in every biniray event. There
had been no cancellations of the event despite stormy weather for the
past 23 years. It rained hard the whole week causing floods in Metro
Manila and suburbs.
Most Reverend Jose Corazon Talaoc, DD presided over a concelebrated Mass
with four other Bantoanon priests.
“Cong Lolong Firmalo,
his wife and congressional office staff, and Ex VG Peping Fonte again
joined this year's biniray celebration. I did not meet the real nor the
impostor Ex Gov. Budoy Madrona.
“In the afternoon,
the Biniray Council of Leaders formally installed Ms. Adel Ferrer, also
an engineer like Mahlie, as Chair of Biniray 2006.
“The council elected
engineer Fred Fabellon as Vice-Chair of Biniray 2006. He will have the
singular honor to preside over the Biniray Silver in 2007.
“Biniray 2005 made a
history of sort in event management when it helped organize two similar
celebrations overseas- one in Texas, USA and another one in Canada.
“Biniray has started
to go global this year. Congratulations!”
“Fiesta - it is a
joyful and special occasion of religious festivities to mark the day of
a saint. However, it is sometimes mixed up of purely communal activity
and social actions.”
“Not anymore in many
Philippine towns today.
festival in honor of Banton's patron, San Nicolas de Tolentino, has been
reinvented from a purely religious event to that of a socio-civic and
“Management of the
event is in the hands of lay people with the parish priest as
nowadays are planned and managed by local government units and
socio-civic organizations in cooperation with the parish pastoral
Chu Mangoba is a
Professional Engineer working for the Illinois Department of
Transportation. He also worked in Saudi Arabia and the Philippines
before immigrating to the U.S.