Saturday, May 19, 2007

Bulacan: Dancing at the Obando Fertility Rites

I was at the Obando Fertility Rites last May 17. A three-day fiesta honoring the towns patron saints: May 17 for St. Paschal, May 18 for St. Claire and May 19 for the Our Lady of Salambao, this festival in Obando has attracted couples praying for children among others.

It was a pleasant early morning drive to Obando via the old town center of Polo (Valenzuela City). This northwestern part of Metro Manila was foreign to me until today. I heard there were a lot of heritage structures in Malabon but I will have to reserve exploring the said town for another day.

The participants to the fertility dance during the three morning processions are dayo (visitors) from other towns in the Philippines. Most ask the patron saints for a son or a daughter, a husband or a wife or good fortune. They believe that by dancing, the spirit of life to enters into the wombs of women.

My host for today was Dir. Ting de los Reyes of the DOT who is from Obando. It was a good thing the procession passed by his house, twice in fact since there is only one major road and the procession had to make a u-turn back to the church. I enjoyed watching the musikong bumbong play on their bamboo instruments as the devotees danced the traditional pandanggo.

I told Ting I was a bit disappointed though since many were no longer in traditional Filipino costumes plus you had the bands playing "Boom Tarat Tarat" and "Itaktak Mo" instead of the traditional music. And then we ask why foreigners don't take notice of our festivals as much as our neighbors in Asia? It's because we don't keep the traditions intact, replacing traditional music with pop music, and traditional Filipino costumes with t-shirts, many a times with the mayor's name on it! Imagine if Thai or Japanese festivals did that!

Ting was disappointed himself since the priest insisted on including an ati-atihan group to make the procession livelier. Father, the Ati-atihan is in Kalibo, Aklan! Let's leave the Obando Fertility Rites alone and keep it original. Anyway, I hope our local officials understand the importance of keeping traditions intact. And let's keep all those t-shirts out and bring back our traditional Filipino costumes in our festivals.

More photos in Multiply.

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  1. Anonymous22.5.07

    I'm not sure if dancing will make you fertile...but I know some people who've done it...and they are now parents...I think it's their will power...

  2. Anonymous22.5.07

    abaruray, abaruray, ang pangako'y tutuparin!

  3. I agree with you. Traditions are dying... :-(
    I was there last year and I was a bit dissapointed too.

  4. hi Ivan,
    I enjoy reading your travel blog,
    you should one day visit my hometown, I am from Bulacan Bulacan, there is the Church of Our Lady of Assumption and the Enriquez Ancestral Home, Marcelo H del Pilar Museum and Gregorio del Pilar Statue a historical small town. Not far just 30-45 minutes drive from Obando.

    Have a safe travel ....


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