VIVA Señor San Miguel!


The St Michael the Archangel image at the main entrance of the Catholic Church of Padada, Davao del Sur*

September 28-29 is  the parochial fiesta of my hometown – Padada, Davao del Sur. Our patron saint is St Michael the Archangel. I remember with fondness the image of our patron on the front wall atop the main door of our church. It is a symbol of the triumph of good over evil.  It is a concrete sculpture of St Michael stepping on the body of Lucifer and burying his spear into the devil’s heart. Below the sculpture is the phrase “KINSAY SAMA SA DIYOS.”

 

 

 

 

Exterior of St Michael's Church of Padada, Davao del Sur*

I often tell my friends that only those who can clearly describe how the image look like can rightfully claim he is from Padada. Moreover, I also have kababayans who maintain that only those who can explain the meaning and the context of the words “KINSAY SAMA SA DIYOS” can rightfully say that he understands the Story of Creation.

The church of St Michael in Padada was built 59 years ago in the spirit of bayanihan. The original chapel  was located  beside the national highway, more than a kilometer away from the present location of the church.  My grandfather told me that led by a Fr. Paul Gravel, a PME priest,  they first repaired the old chapel, after which they literally carried it on their shoulders to its present site. Of course, there were hundreds of them who enthusiastically did it.

 

Interior of the St Michael's Church*

Town folks, rich and poor alike, pooled their resources to build the church. They contributed money, materials, and labor in order to build the present church. That they contributed the best construction materials can be better appreciated if one examines closely the type of wood used in the construction of the church. Before it was unfortunately painted over in the 80s, the upper walls, pillars, and ceilings glistened in the natural sheen of the hardwood used.

Every year, the  parochial fiesta is a much awaited event in our small town. The fiesta proper is preceded by a nine-day novena. Every night during these nine days, there are cultural and/or sports events held either in the church grounds or in the municipal auditorium. After the fiesta mass, the catholic school students hold ground demonstrations wherein they showcase their terpsicorean and musical abilities. Parents and visitors watch these activities which usually end before noontime. During lunchtime and well into the evening, visitors are treated to sumptous feasts in various houses in the town.

Fiesta is an excuse for us to go home to our hometown to renew ties with old friends and to visit parents and relatives. If one fails to do so, the tradition is to light a candle in any church and say a prayer for St. Michael. The better option of course, is to gather some kababayans and their families and celebrate the fiesta in the part of the world where they are staying.

Let me close this post by sharing with you the Prayer to St Michael:

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast unto hell, satan and all the other evil spirits, who prowl through the world, seeking the ruin of souls, Amen.

Mary, Queen of the Angels, pray for us.
All your seven Archangels of God, pray for us. 

.

HAPPY FIESTA TO ALL MY KABABAYANS.

VIVA Señor San Miguel!

*pictures in this post are from www.padada.com

 

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Of Horses and Horsefighting

Two stallions in a horsefight during a city-wide thanksgiving festival
A 1950s photograph of a relative proudly atop his most prized possession at that time -his horse.
Horse Ownership: A status symbol
Ownership of a horse  especially among the lumads and upland farmers in my part of Mindanao is some form of a status symbol. Wealth and stature is judged by the number and quality of horses a man owns.  Horses are not only primary means of transport used to carry  people and crops to the lowlands, but as medium of exchange in lieu of money. Horses are given to a bride  as  a dowry; offered to an aggrieved family to settle blood debts;  and, as gifts to cement various forms of peace settlements among warring families.

And of course, the worthier horses are those which won more fights in horsefighting events.

 Fiestas and Festivals Features Horsefighting 

Horse fighting are featured events in  annual fiestas, thanksgiving festivals and during celebrations by locals to honor a special guest. I have been to some of these events, and they are very much like cockfights in terms of the betting that goes around;  and like the present day Universal Fighting Contests in the degree of brutality between combatants.

Two stallions in a horsefight during a city-wide thanksgiving festival

Briefly, this is how it goes. The organizers build  an enclosed pen.  A mare that is in heat is tethered in the  pen.  It ignites the sexual desire of two stallions and will lead to a fight to determine which between the two of them will become the female’s partner. During such fights the horses push, shove, head-but, bite, and kick each other to submission.  A stallion loses the fight if it runs out of the pre-defined ring drawn within the enclosed pen or,  if his owner will throw the towel to prevent further harm to his horse.  In some cases, the organizers allow the victorious stallion to mate the mare.

Hundreds, if not thousands of people watch the horse fights.  Children climb trees for a better view of the festival. There is a lot of shouting and jeering from the crowd.  Bet taking precedes the fight very much like what happens in a cockpit arena.

Before horsefighting was outlawed by the Animal Welfare Act of 2009, various festivals in Mindanao have horse fighting as one of their featured events: the  Lemlunay Festival of the T’bolis in South Cotabato;  the Dorong Festival in Digos Davao del Sur;  during several fiestas in North Cotabato; and,  during the Kadayawan Festival in Davao City to name a few I am familiar with.  Now, some local governments have stopped the events during fiestas, but some enthusiasts are still holding such events insisting  that it is part of their culture and even complaining that  it should be allowed since cockfighting is legal in this country.

I have not watched horsefighting  in the past several years. The last one was in 2004 during the Kadayawan festival and I am sharing with you a short video that I took of that event.

Horsefighting during Kadayawan 2004

 

 

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A Homecoming Speech

Last December 30, 2004, I was invited as guest speaker during the 50th annual alumni homecoming of my high school alma mater — St Michael’s School of Padada. Here is a transcript of my speech. 

Dear guests, former teachers, peers and fellow alumni of St. Michael School of Padada, MAAYONG HAPON SA INYONG TANAN!

When Elma Ayop, and then Anna Binoya asked me if I would speak in today’s reunion, I was quite humbled, but more than that actually stunned.

Perhaps, the outspoken criteria to the invitation was beer belly size? Morag dili. Dili ang gidako-on sa tiyan ang basehanan kung kinsa ang guest speaker kay mas daghan pa man diri karon ang mas dako pa ang tiyan kaysa ako. Sa pagkatinood, isog-isog gyod tang tanan nga nitambong sa atong reunion. Kay wala man ta mahadlok nga magpalista bisan dagko na ang ating mga bilbil, sinaw na ang atong mga ulo, o dili kaha, kunot na ang atong mga agtang.

Allow me to be more pensive, this time. 50 YEARS – dugay dugay na gyud na panahon sukad matukod kining atong eskwelahan.  Mas tigulang pa gani kini kaysa kadaghanan nga mitambong ning atong homecoming. But in reality it doesn’t seem to be too far back in time.

In the years since we left the corridors of St. Michael’s School of Padada, through all the compelling changes that our lives (and bodies) have gone through, I look into the faces of everybody and I can say with conviction that everyone here is a SUCCESS. A success because our Catholic upbringing within the walls of this institution, molded us into individuals, who, by making a difference in the lives of a handful of people, that by struggling to be better than how we were when we walked out of the gates of SMSP.  We, in our own way,  have fanned the flames of the SWORD OF ST. MICHAEL and kept its fire ablaze.

Kasagaran ang sukdanan sa kalampusan ginatan-aw sa kadaghan ug kwarta, sa gwapo nga sinina, bag-o nga sakyanan, o kaharuhay sa trabaho ug panginabuhi. However, the Almighty Father, ang BIG BOSS ni Senior San Miguel, dunay lain nga sukdanan kung kinsa ang successful nga alumni sa St. Michael School of Padada. Para KANIYA, ang HULAGWAY SA KALAMPUSAN makita nato:

– sa mga amahan ug inahan nga adlaw adlaw nag trabaho para lang mapadala ang ilang mga anak sa eskuylahan.

The face of success is also seen in:

  • the brightest among us who choose to be civil servants, because they still believe in our institutions;
  • the honest public servants among us – barangay captains, councilors, mayors who lead with integrity, honesty and virtue;
  • the single parents who gave up their own happiness and needs for the sake of their children.
  • And, the businessmen and corporate warriors who have helped other people add value to their lives.

School reunions is a time when we reminisce the era that had made us the successful human beings that we are now.  Our years in SMSP were memorable years! We grew up in a single, God-centered community. Education was our ticket to a brighter better world. And probably for most of us, Education was the only way out.

It was a great time to grow up. We had no money, but we learned to enjoy what was available. We did not have television, electronic games and cellphones, but we were free to learn about nature and enjoy life through our physical activities and interaction with each other. We would swim in the beach, scale the slopes of Piapi, and hunt for spiders and make them fight with each other. We walked to school, and to the church, we played and picnicked in the open spaces, serenade classmates celebrating their birthdays. We raised gardens and chickens. We cut grasses with our own hands and made crude, simple toys.

Many of us were poor, but not poverty-stricken because we had a purpose. Purpose kept us going.

Think of the teachers we had in those days! They taught us to believe we are winners. They see to it that we learn to speak and to write correct and understandable English. They made us sing in ways we never thought was possible. They showed us the logic of math and the sciences. They gave us Spanish as a living language. And our principals and the nuns kept the school running. We respected and somewhat feared our teachers, but overall, knew them as friends we could trust.

Think of the confidence we had in each other. The students were the brightest, the girls were the prettiest. The basketball and softball players were the winners. The glee club and the church choir sang like angels. The school band and the rondalla played beautiful songs. We had the pride of the CLASS of ST. MICHAEL’S. We were proud because we knew hardships was just a step in making us self- sufficient. We did not grow up to be forever dependent on the dole or the goodwill of others. We were expected to be responsible, dependable and independent adults. We wanted to accept our roles in life, whatever those roles might be. We were poor growing up but we had purpose and pride.

One other thing we had, (though we may not realized it and might even had denied it at the time),  we had prayer. We clung to our prayers in those days. We had known life and death of friends and family. We had known financial and emotional trials. We had known fears and frustrations. We have felt fatigued and despair. The right and ability to pray, as we learned in school, has continued to sustain us through the years, and will sustain us the rest of our course.

We have entered into the 21st century and a new millennium since we left SMSP. Middle age is a nagging reality. We must tell our children and grandchildren, how, despite not having all the material comforts that are accessible now, we grew with purpose and pride and we continued through adversity with prayer. This is what we learned from St. Michael School of Padada. It is the same sense of purpose, of pride, and of faith that will bring us together again.

Even after 50 years, we still keep these flames ablaze as children of SMSP.

MABUHAY ANG MGA ALUMNI SA ST. MICHAEL’S!

 

(note: a transcript of this speech first appeared in   http://www.padada.com/PR2004/alumni2004_12.htm    a website put up by Czaldy Garrote and other alumni of SMSP)

 

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