Barangay fiestas in metropolitan Manila are usually boring. They’re just token displays – para lang masabing mayroon pa din Fiesta. It lacks zest and life. It cannot be compared to the town and barrio fiestas in the provincias.

Fiesta is not only a Catholic event but a celebration of an original Filipino tradition. It recognizes our Christian history, our Catholic founding and with it, we remember the past that created our towns, changes that  set the course to shaping the very foundations of our communities.

The patron Saint of our town is San Guillermo, we share this Catholic hero with many other barrio’s in Muntinlupa. For many years, since we moved here, the people hardly celebrates the feast. It’s just another week, another Sunday. Well, you’ll see some poorly organized ati-atihan and banderitas made of thrash and that’s it.

Then something strange started to happen last week.

Traffic jam!

I’ve observed this past week, especially Sunday, an unusual mood among the people. For the first time I saw people really celebrating the fiesta. No better indicator of people having a good time than counting the number of drunk people in the streets! Families cooked good food for the table.  The undersized streets of the subdivision were crowded. In the covered court, there were games and shows. And there’s traffic – where are these people coming from? I’ve never seen anything like it, here.

There was a parade with Higantes and some youth dancing to the beat of a hip hop groove. The San Guillermo procession had some old ladies dressed in classic Filipiniana terno dancing while the marching band played a classic march tune. Am I dreaming? I can’t be dreaming. We are truly celebrating he feast of San Guillermo!

Then my Father came out to see the parade. “Eleksyon na talaga, daming pera pag eleksyon, pati Fiesta masaya”.

How I wish the reason are more compelling – rooted in the tradition of our early Christian fathers. But its rare to find, here in Manila the spirit has been lost.  In urban life,  the attachment to tradition is diminished. We are running after the material things. We forget the past all too quickly.

I know it was a good dream.


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