A Force for Good

So many of its founders have already crossed over, yet the An Kauswagan Han Guinaronanhon, Inc. has endured. We cannot believe it’s now 35 years since we organized and founded the organization of Guinarona natives based in Metro Manila, Philippines. And the secret to its success? It must be the rallying around a patron saint–in this instance, San Pascual Baylon.

Souvenir Program, 35th An Kauwagan Han Guinaronanhon Fiesta. Note the list of past fiesta hermanos.

Granted politics do intrude in any organization’s affairs. Granted there could be some intrigues. But when it comes to brass tacks, the unpleasantness goes pfft like the methane gas from marsh lands–camaraderie takes hold and it’s back to business. All because of this rallying around San Pascual Baylon.

A brainchild of Serapio Justimbaste, the An Kauswagan was hatched at a meeting at a chapel in Santa Mesa, Manila in March 1979. Serapio was elected president and Fortunato Tibe vice president. Lydia Isalos was secretary and we were the treasurer. Pelagio Bayona was auditor. Bonifacio Raquel and Epifanio Balidio were sergeants-at-arms. Posthaste, the consensus was to hold the first fiesta for Metro Manila first Sunday of May (1979)–and all subsequent fiestas– a tradition that remains unbroken to this day as if set in stone. And yes, the first fiesta was at that Santa Mesa chapel.

We did have a San Pascual image sculpted in Paete, Laguna, the wood carving capital of the Philippines. And it was blessed and inaugurted during the second fiesta in 1980. Since then, the volunteer host or group of hosts brings the San Pascual image to their abodes, where the next fiesta will be held. And since Guinaronanhons in Metro Manila are spread far and wide, you could have a fiesta as far away as Cavite–it all depends on where the hermano/host is located.

Roy Justimbaste, son of Serapio’s was the latest An Kauswagan pioneer to go heavenward. He has joined his father, Serapio, and the other pioneers Fortunato Tibe, Floro Mercurio, Benedicto Almerino, Epifanio Balidio, Gregorio Abejar, Pelagio Bayona, Taciana Ontimare-Bayona, Irenea Lamamigo, etc. As in, they must also be holding a An Kauswagan fiesta up there.

Really now, we call on the youth to take reins. Carry the An Kauswagan torch forward. Make it as lively and as relevant as ever. And always hew to rally around San Pascual Baylon, and you will not fail.

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