Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Feast of St. Sebastian

I have been quite lost in the world of blogging for quite some time with the holiday season that has gone past us and with my nose tied up to my office desk in the past weeks. Thank goodness, I have the time to breath again.

Just last January 20, my grandmom Lola Bante celebrated her 94th birthday but I only remembered that because my younger sister berrated me through text messages, and if only those letters and symbols that unceasingly flashed through the screen of phone were bullets, I could have been declared dead on the spot. My lola is a very strong woman and with her old age, she can still fetch water and cook and gather dry woods and wash clothes, etc., etc. Super Lola in short. She would always wet my shirt with her old yet pristine tears everytime I would bid goodbye to her for Manila at the end of my short vacation. Miss her.
It is also the birthday of my bestfriend Richard Sebastian Guino-o. A good friend whose noticeable looks of having a skin as pale as singkamas makes him stood out among his classmates.

It is not only her birthday that made me miss home that day. It was also the celebration of the fiesta of the Patron Saint of our City; St. Sebastian. There is a certain smell in the air of Bacolod City that really pulls me home. The Chicken Inasal, drinking cold beer in the dusking of day, faces of friends that remains untarnished, family members, the beautiful city with its clean streets, no traiffic, the rice fields, and many more. Unlike the very famous Maskara Festival, the Feast of St. Sebastian is less celebrated and the festive colors are closer to black and white.

There are people years ago who proposed that the Maskara Festival celebrated every October should be moved to the feast of St. Sebastian and pattern it to the usual festivities around the country that honors the patron saints of respective localities vis-a-vis fiesta. But of course, fierce opposition prevailed and the religiousity of celebrations bowed down to the sentiments of what have been accustomed of celebrating Maskara every October since the late 80's. And so, the feast of St. Sebastian got a name of "Pandot sa Bacolod" which means, festivity in Bacolod. The "Pandot" is usually starts with a mass at the Cathedral and some programs follows in the plaza just across the old Cathedral. Bazaars are also everywhere.

It is just quite a sad sentiment to people like my grandmom who used to tell me when I was still a young boy that they would walk from our place (almost 20 kms) towards the Cathedral to attend the Mass, sporting their best dress and thanking God for the blessings. Today, the Feast of St. Sebastian has been overshadowed by the more grandiose, showbiz and latin-inspired celebration of the Maskara. Maybe, as they say, everything matters in the end anything that comes from the heart.

Whatever the case may be, January 20 is a speacial day in the hearts of people from Bacolod...and a special day to me most of all.

(by the way, now, you know where the name of my bestfriend and beloved Lola came from)

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