(Note: Oh, I should have finished the 30 day challenge yesterday, but due to a lot of factors (activities, social life, no internet connection, reading…) I had to keep the challenge at bay until today. )
I am very fortunate to have enjoyed my childhood immensely. I lived near my cousins, see, so we get to hang-out and play everyday. We ran endlessly, we played tag, we dug up worms and caught fishes, went to little adventures in the fields, so there is a lot to write about, but let me share this one memory from when we were very young.
In our country, we celebrate a lot of festivals, and we call them “fiesta”. All throughout the Philippines, fiestas are celebrated all year round, it’s one of the many things the Spanish conquerors left us, and we have a lot of major Fiestas or festivals like the Ati-Atihan, Moriones, Masskara, Pahiyas, Panagbenga, and a lot more. A fiesta usually celebrates a feast day, may it be of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and all other saints and angels, or a commemoration of an event, or simply a thanksgiving for a bountiful year. Parades are held during mornings and nights with people of all ages dancing to the music of a band or ‘musiko’. Colourful banderitas and costumes are seen all around, happy faces greet each other while fireworks boom in the distance.
Our little town celebrates the Feast Day of St. Isidore the Laborer or San Isidro Labrador, the Catholic patron saint of farmers, every May 15. Every fiesta, the barrio hails an “Hermano Mayor” or “Hermana Mayora” to be the chief busybody for all social and spiritual events throughout the year until the next fiesta comes. These Hermano and Hermana are also responsible for a huge feast for at least half the town – they usually open their homes to the townspeople after the parade, for refreshments. The barrio also hails a “Capitan” or “Capitana”, usually of a younger age, to host a little feast as well.
One particular town fiesta stuck with me because my cousin, Bimbo, was hailed “Capitan” of the fiesta. He was just 7 or 8, I think, when he was hailed such, and he needed a partner for the parades, and of course that was I. He wore this black and white tuxedo, my grandfather even commissioned a small walking cane for him. I wore this peach gown and together, we walked a fair distance (we need to circle the whole town for this!) both in the morning and the night. I remember being so tired after it, looking and smiling at people we barely know. We were both relieved when the night parade was over. We were allowed to wear our comfortable clothes, and play outside with kids our age. It was a bright night, with the moon shining down upon us. The elders were busy with the guests so my cousins and I snuck in and out unnoticed by them. We sought out other kids, and in the moonlight we played patintero, langit-lupa, tumbang-preso, luksong-tinik and luksong-baka, some of the wonderful traditional children’s games in the Philippines.
It was indeed a fun night – we played eagerly while the people around us were busy showing guests inside their homes, fireworks boomed in the distance, music floated all around us, while we revelled in that moment – we were kids being kids. It was not until very late that our parents sought us outside. That signalled the end of a great day, it was a celebration of all sorts.
Oh, we continued to do that. But with age, our activities differed; we have had our own guests as time passed by. We entertained them, and we looked after the younger kids.
Childhood is meant to be enjoyed. Kids should be allowed to play, learn, and experience their environment for themselves. Thankfully, we were allowed that.