When leader and activist Jose Raquel was still alive, his utmost concern was to protect the antique image of San Pascual Baylon de Guinarona (aside from his incessant campaign to make Guinarona a full-fledged town). Countless were his brush with the Catholic Church since he wanted–as did the barrio folks–to keep the image in a private home for fear of it being stolen.
Unfortunately, Mr. Raquel’s fear came to pass. San Pascual’s century-old image was stolen in June 2010, and has not been returned as of this writing.
In the past, some fetishers would “borrow” one of San Pascual’s detachable hands for some magic or healing work, then the appendage would be returned back. This third time though was different: The thieves went for the whole shebang. But rumors are rife that San Pascual Baylon de Guinarona is now in Rome, but no picture has emerged for confirmation.
A moment in time
When we were kids of 8 to 12, in the thick of school break, we would hold mock San Pascual fiestas to imitate our parents. Our San Pascual was from an empty tin of talc powder, with a “halo” of curved wire for effect. We would pretend to be cooking fiesta food and would hold a “procession” in the periphery of our house to the backyard near the outhouse. Feli Cardante was the pretend-priest, haha. We would also hold ersatz Miss Guinarona Pageant, where millions of soda crowns were bet and counted. Man, did we go through the wringer stealing those crowns under Tatay Tino Remalante’s house, where his carabaos were also housed–and their icky dung clinging to us. Yikes!
Then as now, the actual Guinarona fiesta for San Pascual was a beehive or in the local parlance “karahibot.” We kids would take part in night rehearsals for folk dance shows after the fiesta mass. Others would go the acting route via the Zarzwela.
(Guinarona then was a humongous barrio, one of Leyte’s biggest in terms of area and population. It has officially been a parish since November 5, 1971. Because of its huge size, and to maximize IRA availment, Guinarona has since been partitioned into four government units: Guinarona Proper, Lobe-lobe East, Paraiso and Sampaguita. In addition, other barrios of Dagami and Burauen are part of the Guinarona parish. The good result is that the whole Guinarona parish is, shall we say, highly urbanized, with houses standing cheek-by-jowl, especially in the Paraiso district.)
Like every Guinaronanhon, we identify ourself with San Pascual. More so now that we are abroad–the urge to go back to our roots is more pronounced, nay, so inveterate it is killing us. Now that the original San Pascual image is lost (of course we hope it will come back sooner than soon), our best bet–or revenge–is to do good, to really help in the economic and tourism development of our “Yutang Gintubu-an.”
Perhaps this is what San Pascual wants. Then when he returns, we could proudly welcome him back with our achievements.