C is for Church
This is St. Mary Magdalene Church located in my hometown. It holds a lot of special memories of my childhood. I remember how my grandmother used to tell us when we were kids that everytime we hear the church bells ring at 6:00pm to immediately stop playing or whatever it was that we’re doing and pray the Angelus.
The first missionary priest arrived in the area in 1572. The first church was built using bamboo and cogon by the Franciscan priest in 1583. Under the Patroness of St. Mary Magdalene, the church was rebuilt and renovated using wood boards and palm in 1699. The church was burned in 1632 and was rebuilt in stone in 1670-1673. The altar and the convent was organized in 1848. It was again renovated by the incumbent Parish Priest from 1962-1978. (my English translation of the dedication written on the Plaque of Recognition by the National Historical Institute )
Long ago, these were some of activities that were usually held in the church yard .. the Moriones during Holy Week, the Moro-Moro, amateur singing contests, zarsuelas, and battle of the Bandas during fiestas. Nowadays, only the singing contest has survived and is usually held at the stage located near the municipal hall and the others, well they are traditions long gone and forgotten.
Moriones is a stage play about the reenactment of the legend of Longinus.
Moro-Moro is a play usually performed in an outdoor stage, the movements and gestures are often exaggerated and the poetic lines and verses are recited in declamatory sing-song tone. It is performed in honor of the patron saint during fiestas.
Zarsuela is a musical play consisting of spoken dialogue, songs, choruses, and dances.
Bandas are the musical brass instrument bands who are often seen parading in the street during fiestas.
C is for Charm
This is a story told me by my grandmother when i was a kid. She told me that my great-grandfather owned a charm that he got from the Maria Cafra. (Pied Fantail or most commonly known locally in my country as Maria Cafra is a very active and noisy bird and its movement is dashing in acrobatic flights). In those early days, there were so many stories about charms and amulets. My grandmother told me that my great-grandfather had the ability to jump so high, hop and run so fast as if emulating the movements of the feisty maria cafra. My great-grandfather was a very handsome man and as such he was always called on to be a stage actor in the Moro-Moro staged at the courtyard of St. Mary Magdalene Church during the town fiestas.
One day during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in the 1940’s, the Japanese soldiers raided the town and all the men were being rounded up and being accused as spies. When my great-grandfather had known about it, he let my great-grandmother rode on his back and he ran as fast as he could almost not touching the ground, jumped and hopped easily on tall bushes and in an instant with lightning speed they were gone and the Japanese soldiers weren’t able to catch them.
When it was his time to die of old age, my great-grandfather had a hard time during his last breath. He told his children of whom included my grandmother that he couldn’t pass on the charm to any of them as he didn’t want them to experience what he had gone through. Although he possessed such might and speed, it wasn’t easy to own it. The only time he took his last breath was when the marble sized charm which was whiter than pearl came out of his mouth, rolled over in-between the bamboo floor and fell to the ground. When my grandmother and her siblings went to look for it, it was gone and they couldn’t find it.
Today, i’ve also told the story to my kids and as always, it never fails to amuse me and tickle my imagination. True to life or not, i would still want to believe the story of my great-grandfather.
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