Friday, May 18, 2007

Obando Town Fiesta - Fertility Festival

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'ng Pinung-Pino.

Among the fiesta participants to the fertility dance are foreigners from other towns in the Philippines and Globay Pinoys, 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.

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. In the novel the mother of Maria Clara was barren, so she with her husband went to the Town Fiesta of Oband to dance the fertility dance. In Noli Me Tangere it was known that the father of Maria Clara was Padre Salve a Spanish friar.

From Pre-Spanish 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.

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 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.

The participants for the Fertility Festival were assembling at the Church's courtyard while the masses was still going, the masses ended about 9AM.

These people were proceeding towards the church to participate in the festival.

These mobile TV van of ABS-CBN left the church's courtyard to positioned their camera for a good shots of the Procession which will start in a few minutes.

The mass ended and the "caro" of the saints were readied for the procession.

The Procession about to start.

The religious dancers in colorful attire were those women who danced before in Obando and were blessed with childs after being barren for many years.

These old ladies were dancind as a show of appreciation to the patron saints for giving them childs as their wishes was realized.

The procession is going back to the church after making a rounds of the major streets of Obando, which is about 2 hours.

This TV anchorwoman is showing to their camera the dance style in the fertility festival.

The procession returns to the church and childless couple proceeded to infront of the altar
for another rounds of dancing.

Their hankerchiefs were returned after the church staff wiped it to the statue of the Saints.