Joke sa akin before ang term na “hermana.” Cut to nag-hermana mayor ang mudra ko para sa Sto. Nino Feast dito sa amin…Nakakaloka! Hindi lang naman yung gastos pero yung trabaho at yung responsibility that comes with the title. Parang ninang ang pamilya namin ng buong project 6.
Sandali! Bakit nga ba kailangan mag-celebrate ng Sto. Niño? Ano ba’ng relevance? Is it merely a tradition without a basis? Yes, I was the devil’s advocate na kontra nang kontra sa nanay kong sineseryoso ang job title na “hermana.”
Biglang sinabi ng nanay ko sa gitna ng pagtatanong ko kung bakit kailangan mag-prusisyon? Hindi ba ito idolatry?
“Candy, gusto ko lang malamang mo na Sto. Niño baby ka. Nung wala akong pambayad sa hospital, yung mga devotees ng Sto. Niño at kasamahan ng Ninang mo ang tumulong sa akin.”
Wala kaming pangbayad sa hospital? Aray! Di ba mayaman si mudra noon? At ang tumulong sa amin ay mga Sto. Niño devotees? Pasok ang background music sa utak ko na, “Twinkle, twinkle little star.”
I gathered my friends in the community. We brainstormed, discussed, and researched the real meaning of the Sto. Niño. It was getting late and we couldn’t come up with anything. I heard Quentin crying, awakened from sleep through the baby monitor. I came running to check him out. The minute he felt my presence, he calmed down and went back to sleep.
Voila! That’s it! I went back to my friends and told them my realization. We are all children of God. We all have that child within us. The child always has this purity of heart, innocence, joy, and is totally dependent on their parents.
My counselor told me God always sees all of us as His beloved children. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are. We are all equally treated like we’re of the same age. Ows?! Siyempre sa utak ko lang yun. Kaya nga ang tawag Niya sa ating lahat ay “My child.” Wala namang My grandchild, My apo sa tuhod and so forth…Theme ng feast para message sent to all: Ano mang edad, baby ka ni God.
The priests might not agree? My mom might not agree? The people might find it weird. You (readers) might find it weird. Weird na kung weird. If we are going to do this, I guess we have to do it right. The truth is our helpers felt weird that every night, since the meeting, they had been cutting red stars of red stars and pasting verses. We call them “spirit lifters.” They will be given away to everyone. Paggawa ng stamp pads with the agreed theme, the drivers started making the posters in kawayan, which will be brought by the children.
I was assigned to teach all the kids who wanted to join the parade to sing and dance inside the church before the mass. The kids really tested my patience. Ang ending, isang cheering ang nangyari. Saya naman.
My mother was busy calling the caterer, finalizing the food, contacting the ati-atihan and etc. The main purpose of the ati-atihan was to jumpstart the fun of dancing like kids na nakakawala ng everyday stiffness. Bakit ba sila maitim? They were supposed to represent the hard workers in the field, in the boat, or those who worked under the sun. Kaya pala ang sinisigaw “hala bira, puwera pasma.” Hahaha! Nakakatawa yung puwera pasma. Hindi na yun maiintindihan ng masa and walang time mag-explain. Change na ang sinisigaw sa “Ano mang edad, baby ka ni God.”
The day itself came. Duling na ako sa pagod, hindi pa nagsisimula. Meron pang 150 kids na pakakainin at mag-peperform. The kids came from the less-fortunate areas. My greatest fear then was that Quentin, my son, would get into his tantrums when he sees me with kids, or when he sees a lot of people.
To my surprise, Quentin enjoyed the ati-atihan. Quentin enjoyed the drum beat. Oo nga pala, bata siya kaya mag-i-enjoy siya, although he always handed baby wipes to the ati-atihan people thinking they were dirty.
I don’t really join processions. I don’t think I would ever enjoy it. But I joined this time. I had fun. I got tired. Siyempre hindi maiiwasan yung “Cindy, pa-picture.” Si Hermana nasa stage, naka-coif ang buhok at bumulong sa akin. “Good job, anak, umuwi ka na at malapit na ka nang maging of the same color with the ati-atihan.”
I am currently doing a film for Star Cinema with Bea Alonzo and Sam Milby. Guess what my role is? I am a pre-school teacher. What a coincidence! I just had a dry run working with kids.
Want to know more about the film? That’s another entry. Till then…