The 1987 Guinarona Fiesta

Mano Panyong Balidio was that year’s Hermano Mayor–and his celebration was one of the most memorable for us.  It was one year after the so called EDSA Revolution, and the Philippines was in a political funk, which was carried out to our work place.  We were in a funk as well, because our boss, who was a Marcosista, was deported by the new government.

Feeling funky or not, we just had to carry ourselves to Guinarona for the 1987 fiesta.  As was the wont of most Guinaronanhons in Metro Manila, we arrived on ante vesperas, the 15th of May.  For you would feel useless, if you came on fiesta eve, May 16, especially if you belonged to the choir, which would perform during the fiesta high mass.  That way you could still catch up with the rehearsals.

Mano Panyong was special in the sense that he was a mainstay of the Guinarona Association in Metro Manila, which also celebrates a fiesta for San Pascual every first Sunday of May.  Our way of honoring his celebration was to haul tons of fresh jasmine from Manila, iced and contained in styropor boxes.  And was it cumbersome to make the floral arrangements for the San Pascual carro and the church altar –skewering the jasmines in coconut midribs–but we had to do it, no question.

Farther west of Paraiso, under the coconut groves–that’s where Mano Panyong hosted his fiesta visitors.  His chef, Kuya Ruben, a Kapangpangan, was special too–his kare-kare was the best tasting in the world, and you could burst from overindulgence.

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The Ibugue creek in Guinarona. A perfect place for a fiesta.

As the fiesta choir, we did extremely well, having all sorts of instrumentation, plus harmonies galore.  Naturally, we felt special too.  And the euphoria we brought to our abodes, although most choir members would tag along to our house in Paraiso–and, for all intents and purposes, stayed AWOL from their fiesta guests.  Then we would celebrate further, having our fill of lechon, cooked taro and Bahalina, and sing our lungs out, the heat and humidity notwithstanding.

And who was at our house–being entertained by Mother–awaiting us?  A good old friend from high school, Atty. Estefano De la Cruz, who was also the corporate lawyer of the firm we worked in.  With him was his driver and a young nephew.  He was a special guest–and after meals, we transported ourselves to Ibugue creek, with loads of food and drink plus a guitar.  Swimming in the crystal clear waters, eating, drinking, singing out to the engkantos.  We had a blast of a fiesta at Ibugue!  And we had no inkling of the fiesta happenings elsewhere in Guinarona.

On the way home, we dropped by Mano Panyong’s, under the lush coconut groves–and we had another helping, nay gorging, of fiesta food–and the obligatory Bahalina.  Of course, Kuya Ruben’s heavenly kare-kare was there too.

And it was one Guinarona fiesta to die for. Buying a new SPB Image.

Coming to Terms. . .


. . .With One’s Mortality

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While at it, be an angel among men.

When you reach the half-century mark, consider yourself blessed and ask your inner self what more you could do to leave an imprint once you finally go. Although it could only be downhill from today, and considering that you have outlived some of your relatives and friends, feel blessed still. And for sure, there must be a reason for your longevity, foremost of which is the nurturing of your legacy. Granted, man does not live by bread alone; granted, man’s sole purpose in life is to help his fellow man–might it be that you are tasked to spearhead a project for the community or just be one of the “cogs in the wheel” of such project? (Hint: Ang hindi lumilingon sa pinaggaligan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan, which translates to: Those who do not nurture their roots will be cursed of not reaching self-realization.)

When you reach the half-century mark, and you feel the aches and pains, still be blessed–be proactive and “turn poison into medicine”, with a view to serve man. For everybody is engaged in development–development for oneself and his family, development for one’s community and environment. We don’t feel uppity, just because we work abroad and earn dollars and operate among the creme de la creme–and of what use is that when in the end worms will still eat you. Even if we operate in the high levels of society, we need to balance that with an INVOLVEMENT– in projects for your hometown, for example.

When you reach the half-century mark, you look back at your youth: how you were able to gulp down liters of Tanduay in one sitting, and swim while drank–which you simply cannot do now. Then you felt invincible; now you feel vulnerable. Yet we have a few energies left, so why don’t we use those energies for a worthwhile cause?

An example of a worthwhile cause is the Guinarona SPB New Image Project 2013

Come, therefore, and be our guest.

History Repeating Itself

In 1903, in the midst of a cholera epidemic, THE FOUNDERS OF GUINARONA sent Timoteo Daclizon to Manila to procure the image of SAN PASCUAL BAYLON, known far and wide to possess miraculous powers. Residents of Guinarona offered contributions in the form of cash, abaca, palay and coconut for the purchase. Contributions totaled two pesetas, a substantial amount during that time.

Dagami’s Parish Priest, then was Fr. Manuel Pascasio.

After a month-long voyage by sea, the image of SAN PASCUAL BAYLON arrived in Tacloban City. The barrio founders met the image at Dagami after which a procession followed, bringing it to Guinarona.

As oral history would have it, SAN PASCUAL BAYLON’s first miracle was when the cancerous lesions on Pedro Tibe’s foot healed after a handkerchief patted on the image was placed on it. News about the miracle spread like wild fire and pilgrims flocked to Guinarona by the hundreds. Because of their sheer numbers, some pilgrims had to stay overnight in Guinarona. San Pascual’s image was then in the care of Raymundo Casarilla.

Guinarona’s reputation as a pilgrim’s mecca gradually spread in Leyte and Samar, and this contributed in no small measure to the prosperity of the place. Guinarona then had all sorts of businesses mostly owned by Chinese traders.

The image of SAN PASCUAL BAYLON’s accumulated much cash from its devotees such that in no time a church was built, initiated by barrio illustrados such as Francisco Benitez, Alfonso Maray, Fernando Sudario, Esperedion Raquel, Raymundo Casarilla and Basilio Raquel.

The church and convent were completed in time for the second fiesta celebration, Don Alfonso Maray having been voted as the first Hermano Mayor.

On April 30, 1930, a big typhoon hit Leyte, totally destroying the church and the convent. It was so strong that the entire church was blown to a distance of about six meters from the original site. The altar was also destroyed, but the image of SAN PASCUAL BAYLON was well intact as though nailed to the floor. After the disaster, the Parish Priest of Dagami, Fr. Pedro Aruta, enjoined the people of Guinarona to build a temporary chapel for SAN PASCUAL BAYLON’s image.

Upon the initiative of Jose Raquel and Teniente del Barrio Apolonio Bacal, son-in-law of Antonio Justimbaste, the church was built as pilgrims doubled in number.

On November 5, 1971 at 7:00 AM, Guinarona was inaugurated as the Parish of SAN PASCUAL BAYLON during the visit of Msgr. Manuel S. Salvador, Bishop of Palo. The creation of Guinarona as a separate parish came about through the noble efforts of illustrious Guinaronanhon, the late Msgr. Esteban Justimbaste, the Vicar of Carigara Parish. Guinarona’s first parish priest was the ebbulient Fr. Romeo Mazo. A Brief History of San Pascual Baylon de Guinarona


Here we are, now a Global Barrio. And the “epidemics” now are economic crises, earthquakes, floods, erratic weather, plagues–all that jazz. Their collection of 2 pesetas is exactly the budget for the #GuinaronaSPBNewImageProject2013, with inflation factored in. A plus for us though is that for every donation of PhP2,000.00 up, there is a free tee shirt manufactured and printed in the U.S.A.

Long live BAYANIHAN!

A Rendering. . .A Flashback

For all intents and purposes, we were still a baby and would not even be allowed to step out of the house without an o.k. from our parents.  But we do remember and how!

That was a time for playing, a time for mandatory siestas.  We would play fiesta–yes, ersatz fiesta with imaginary food–with cousins living in different areas of Guinarona, but who would converge in our yard.  Our image of San Pascual Baylon was from a talc tin, and we would fashion a wire to form San Pascual’s halo.  Funny, but Feli Cardante was our “priest”, and he was mumbling silly words during “mass.”

We remember:   Obdulia Aragon being the host of Guinarona Fiesta 1956.  And we remember that she mounted the San Pascual image on top of a 50’s van (rendering below).

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We remember how we would scramble to find candles as the procession was passing by.  Yes, we do remember the haunting music from the brass band.

It was a glorious time even as we only had gas lanterns for illumination.

For Eco Tourism: A Pictorial Report

Tourism is one of the sectors we are paying particular attention to, because it is one in which we can successfully pursue our agenda of inclusive growth, given the multiplier effect on jobs and the amount of money it brings into our country. –President Benigno S. Aquino

Guinarona abounds in nature spots conducive for eco-tourism. Here are two great sites awaiting development along the lines of less cement but more of as-is-where-is.

    • Ibugue
    • Maalngon

Ergo, this is an open invite to those interested to partner with the site owners. Contact details.

Going Full Throttle

With the arrival and installation of the 15th century relic of San Pascual Baylon, Guinarona in Leyte, Philippines, has entered the pilgrimage tourism zone.  It is expected that San Pascual devotees will flock to Guinarona in large numbers to offer candles and have their prayers said.  So that in the meantime that the original San Pascual image has not returned (it has been lost since June 2010) we are going full throttle with the San Pascual Baylon de Guinarona Image Project 2013.  A new San Pascual Baylon image.

Figure 1 is a rendering of the new image in its carroza.

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Figure 1. A rendering of the new San Pascual Baylon image for Guinarona, Philippines.

The image is modeled after that of Basilica San Pascual Baylon’s in Vila-real, Spain. Note that the San Pascual relic came from Basilica San Pascual Baylon, so it won’t hurt upgrading to that standard, if only for the sake of the saint’s  fans and devotees who are feeling a void with the loss of the old Guinarona icon.

The components of the project are: (1) Image proper, five feet seven inches in height, (2) A base of angels, two feet high, (3) An ornate garment, dark brown in color and (4) a carroza with lighting fixtures and space for an electric generator.

Our hope is that our readers who may or may not be  followers/devotees of San Pascual’s, but whose heart likes the project, will assist us and chip in. Contact details. 

Fund raising campaign at Indiegogo