It’s our town fiesta today, which means, for a predominantly Catholic barangay (the Filipino version of pueblo), some saint or Marian avatar will be paraded through the streets.
Fortunately, this is an enjoyable event, even if you’re not Catholic. The evangelicals hate it, of course, for reasons discussed here, but if you’re one of us heathens, you’re sure to enjoy it: our version of a Catholic procession is a 7-hour long street dance called karakol. You’re not a local if you’ve never been to one.
Now, my hometown’s patron is actually St Augustine of Canterbury, but the real star is St Mary Magdalene: the reason being she is believed to end the dry season by calling down the rain. If you’re not from here, it won’t make any sense — nowhere in the Gospels can one find a former prostitute turned intercessor for meteorological phenomena. But, it seems to make perfect sense to our mostly agricultural community. One wonders if our Magdalene was originally a precolonial cloud nymph or a monsoon goddess. If you look really close, she even seems to be wearing a bindi. (You can read more about it here.)
Anyway, to celebrate this day, I wanted to share with y’all this old proem (prayer-poem) I wrote many years ago to our not-so-canonical Magdalene a.k.a. She Who Brings the Rain. It’s in Tagalog, so be warned, but I do intend to create an English version someday.
Mayo a bente otso nanamán.
Simulâ na ng pagbuhos ng ulán.
Dalá ng lakambining nanganluran.
Magdalena ang kanyáng pangalan.
Abá at Junio na.
Nagbalík na ang Magdalena.
Maryá Magdalenang dalá ng dayuhan
Salamín ng diwatang nakálimútan.
Ngayó’y sa amin nang nanahan
Naibsán ang pagtangis sa nakaraán.
Sakáy ng alon saami’y nakaabót.
Kamí’y isukob sa Iyóng salakót.
Kulóg at kidlát ang kanyáng dalá
Ulán para sa mágsasaká.
Pagkaing tubò mulâ sa lupà
Siyáng biyayà ng Magdalena.
Halina at kamí’y basaín.
Dingín itóng aming dalangin.
Papuri’t galák sa lakambining Maryá
Sayáw Mo sa amin ay ligaya
Ulán Mong buhay sa amin ay pumaritó
At sa susong-lupang inalayan Mo.
Abá, abá! Papurihan si Maryá
Mapagpalang Santo at Diwatà!
And finally, the video I promised to upload 2 years ago:
Some pictures from yesterday’s karakol, too: