Happy Fiesta Bohol

We now approach the merry month of May, which also happens to be the month of fiestas in Bohol. Literally, every day of this month there is a fiesta celebrated somewhere in the province. If I am not mistaken, you can live on fiesta food for a month if you stay in Loon or Jagna. Just thinking of fiesta in May brought back very many memorable experiences of my childhood and teen years. You do remember that famous joke of Bohol sinking several feet in May because of the many visiting Bol-anons coming back to celebrate fiesta with their kith and kin. Well, it is that time of the year again.

Although I now call my ancestral town of Baclayon as home, I actually grew up in Tagbilaran City. We lived there for about ten years before moving back to Baclayon when most of us siblings went to Cebu for college studies. So, for ten years we celebrated Tagbilaran's fiesta day, which falls on the 1st of May in honour of Saint Joseph, the husband of Mother Mary and the foster father of Jesus Christ. Local historian Jes Tirol has an interesting story on why the city celebrated Saint Joseph's feast day on 1st of May instead of its original day, 19th of March.

If you are a first time fiesta goer or mamistahay in Bohol, perhaps it is wise to acquaint yourself on our fiesta etiquette. Otherwise, you may not be invited again for next year's fiesta celebration. And if I may add a piece of unsolicited advice - do not eat too much in the first house you visit; it may not be the only house you will go to during fiesta day. This is the hard lesson learnt by my fraternity brods when they first experience Tagbilaran fiesta. They ate to their hearts content in the first house they visited. In the second house, they have to beg off from the main course meals and instead indulge themselves on sweets and cakes. In the third house, with red faces they asked the host for the 'comfort room' facilities. After, they asked us for directions to the nearest pharmacy to buy the you-know-what tablets. Alas, they spent the rest of the day fasting! They did went back the following year, though, all wisened up.

On the other hand, you may also end up without eating on fiesta day. I remember the story of the stranger who went with his Bol-anon friend to celebrate the fiesta of the latter's home barangay. When the neighbours heard of his visit, they vied for the privilege of having him as their important guest. In short, he hopped from house to house without getting anything to eat. It continued until nightfall. Although very hungry, he was too exhausted to bother eating and opted to sleep instead. Poor fellow, napasmo hinuon! Of course, this story is meant as a joke but there is a hint of truth on it. Bol-anons likes to invite or warmly welcomes strangers into their house during fiesta. I believe it is still true to these days in some places.

Happy Fiesta Tagbilaran on May 1st! Happy Fiesta to my home barangay of Santa Cruz in Baclayon on May 3rd!

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