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Encyclopedia > Obando Fertility Rites

Obando Fertility Rites is a Filipino dance ritual. Every year, during the month of May, to the tune of musical instruments made out of bamboo materials, the men, women and children of Obando, Bulacan, Philippines wear traditional dance costumes to dance on the streets followed by the images of their patron saints San Pascual (St. Paschal), Santa Clara (St. Claire) and Nuestra Señora de Salambao (Our Lady of Salambao), while singing the song Santa Clara Pinung-Pino. Diversity Around 91 genera and 1,000 species Subtribes Arthrostylidiinae Arundinariinae Bambusinae Chusqueinae Guaduinae Melocanninae Nastinae Racemobambodinae Shibataeinae See the full Taxonomy of the Bambuseae. ... Obando, a third class municipality is located on the south of the Province of Bulacan and is 16 kilometers away from Rizal Monument in Luneta. ...

Contents

Purpose

Among the fiesta participants to the fertility dance are foreigners from other towns in the Philippines, most are asking the patron saints for a son or a daughter, a husband or a wife or good fortune. They are all dancing on the streets as a form of a religious procession primarily in order for the spirit of life to enter into the wombs of women. This is the magic and mystery of Obando, Bulacan. Fiesta can mean: A festival , party, or pasta. ...


The feast days or dance festivals are held for three consecutive days: May 17 for St. Paschal, May 18 for St. Claire and May 19 for the Our Lady of Salambaw.


The Philippine national hero, José Rizal, mentioned this fertility dance ritual in his Spanish novel, the Noli Me Tangere. For places, institutions and objects named after this person, see Rizal (disambiguation). ... Noli me Tangere by Hans Holbein the Younger Noli me tangere is the Latin version of the words spoken, according to the Gospel of John, by Jesus to Mary Magdalene, meaning touch me not (the quotation appears in John 20:17). ...


History

The ancient Filipinos once held a ritual known as the Kasilonawan headed by a katalonan or high priestess. The ritual normally lasts for nine days and usually involves drinking, singing and dance, and is normally held at the home of a datu or barangay chieftain. This ritual became important to early Filipinos because they value of fertility that could also mean wealth or abundance of every individual person. A barren woman was once considered as a member of the lowest class in Philippine society and suffered stigma and mockery. Because of this reason, it became important to perform the fertility rites so that the women could become productive. The god known as Linga, a force of nature, became the center of the Kasilonawan ritual. Datu or datto is the title for ancient tribal chieftains and monarchs in the pre-Hispanic Philippines. ... A barangay (Tagalog: baranggay , pronounced as ba-rang-gai, gai as in guy), also known by its former name, the barrio, is the smallest local government unit in the Philippines and is the native Filipino term for a village, district or ward. ... This article is about the leader. ... Fertility rites are religious rituals that reenact, either actually or symbolically, sexual acts and/or reproductive processes. ...


Upon the arrival of the Franciscan missionaries to the Philippines, they built churches to propagate the Christianity and introduced Catholic saints. In Obando, Bulacan the Spanish Franciscans introduced a trio or a triangle of saints, namely St. Claire, St. Pascual and the Our Lady of Salambao in order to replace the traditional pagan gods. The Order of Friars Minor and other Franciscan movements are disciples of Saint Francis of Assisi. ...


The current images at the altar of Obando Church are replicas, sculpted with the financial assistance of the people of Obando. The originals were destroyed during World War II. Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000...


The community would congregate to perform these rituals usually in a clearing of some kind in the middle of a dense forest with some sort of earth-oriented and artistic phallic symbol displayed in the center of the clearing. The lights of strategically placed, ritualistic fires would shine on this structure and it was thought that the sun, giver of all life embodied in the fires, was giving its blessing of fertility to all who participated in the rituals.


The patron saints

Saint Claire

St. Claire is the oldest patron saint of Obando, Bulacan. She was the first saint to be enshrined at the chapel built by the Franciscan missionaries in Catanghalan, the old name of Obando Town.


St. Claire is a nun in Assisi, Italy during the 13th century, who founded a congregation known as the Poor Claires based on the devotional teachings of St. Francis of Assisi. St. Claire has been considered as the patron saint of good weather because her name in Spanish meant the brightening of the skies after a season of storms, which later became the basis why the residents of Obando, Bulacan believed in offering eggs at the base of the altar of St. Claire to pray for good weather. Eggs are offered to St. Claire because her name also meant claro (albumen) in Spanish. The Lower and Upper Church from the lower piazza Assisi (Latin: Asisium) is a town and episcopal see on the western flank of Mt. ... Saint Francis of Assisi (born in Assisi, Italy, ca. ... Albumen redirects here. ...


The introduction of St. Claire by the Spanish Franciscan missionaries as a replacement for the pagan gods of the ancient Filipinos resulted to the transformation of the old Kasilonawan ritual into the offering of the fandango or dance for St. Claire to prevent women from becoming barren. This transformation from pagan rituals to Christian ceremonies enhanced the conversion of Filipinos to Catholicism. As a Christian ecclesiastical term, Catholic - from the Greek adjective , meaning general or universal[1] - is described in the Oxford English Dictionary as follows: ~Church, (originally) whole body of Christians; ~, belonging to or in accord with (a) this, (b) the church before separation into Greek or Eastern and Latin or...


Eventually, St. Claire became the pilgrim’s patron saint of an individual who would like to request for a mate and bear children, female babies in particular.


Lyrics of the song or novena to St. Claire

  • In Tagalog: Santa Clarang pinong-pino / Ako po ay bigyan mo / Ng asawang labintatlo / Sa gastos ay walang reklamo!
  • English translation: (To the very refined, Saint Claire / I pray that you grant me / Thirteen spouses all in all / To the costs, I won’t complain at all!)
  • Variation, in Tagalog: Santa Clarang pinong-pino / Ang pangako ko ay ganito / Pagdating ko sa Obando / Sasayaw ako ng pandanggo.
  • English translation: (To the very refined, Saint Claire / This is my promise / Upon reaching Obando Town / I will dance the fandanggo.}

St. Paschal

During the 18th century, after the founding of Obando, Bulacan as a Spanish Municipality, the Franciscan missionaries built a church. At that time, St. Paschal, or San Pascual Baylon, was introduced to Obando, Bulacan. Like St. Claire, he also became the patron saint of fertility, wealth and abundance. St. Paschal’s surname, Baylon, meant a person who likes dancing, after having been derived from the Spanish word bailar.


There is an anectode about the miracles of St. Paschal. The Obando story narrates that there was a couple from a neighboring town known as Hagonoy, Bulacan who met a man who sells crabs. That man invited the couple to go to Obando, Bulacan to participate in the mid-May dance ritual. And when the husband and wife finally did visit the Obando Church, they were stunned when they discovered that the face of the image of St. Paschal inside the church looked exactly like the face of the crab vendor they met. Hagonoy is a 1st class municipality in the province of Bulacan, Philippines. ...


St. Paschal also became as a patron saint for having children, particularly male babies.


Our Lady of Salambao

On June 19, 1763, the Our Lady of Salambao, also known as the Our Lady of Immaculate Concepcion, was also introduced to Obando, Bulacan. Based on an Obando legend, three fishermen namely Juan, Julian and Diego dela Cruz caught the image of the Virgin Mary with their salambaw, a fishing net supported with bamboo crosspieces and mounted on a raft, while fishing at a place known as Hulingduong, Binwangan at the town of Tambobong or Malabon. When the fishermen decided to bring the image of the Virgin Mary to a neighboring town known as Navotas, their fishing boat became heavy and couldn’t be paddled towards Navotas. But they eventually decided to bring the image of the Virgin Mary toward Obando, their fishing boat quickly lightened and became easy to paddle. Thus, the image of the Our Lady of Salambao was added to the altar of the church of Obando, Bulacan.


The Our Lady of Salambao eventually became the patron saint of fishermen and good harvest.


Revival after World War II

During World War II, the church and a large portion of Obando Town was ruined by fire including the three images of the patron saints. A few years after the war, the archbishop of Manila and a Obando parish priest forbid the practice of the fertility dance because of its obviously pagan roots. During the time of this prohibition, normal religious processions were still being held but without the lively street dancing.


However, in 1972, a new parish priest in the name of Rev. Fr. Rome R. Fernandez and the Komisyon ng Kalinangan or Commission on Culture of Obando finally revived the once sleeping tradition.


References

External link

  • An article on ancient Filipino dance rituals: The Tadtarin by Jaime C. Laya and The Summer Solstice by Nick Joaquin

 
 

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