Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Caracol In Rosario

it was the morning of the fiesta
crowds gathered in front of the old church
all agog in religious fervor and excitement
for the opening of the age-worn wooden doors

from the belfry bells clanged furiously
outshouting each other in joyful cacophony
bats rudely wakened burst out to the morning sky
scaring the sacristan pulling at the bell ropes

now emerging from the ancient portals
of the old stone Church, a big wheeled “carosa” bore the
Nuestra SeƱora Virgen del Santissimo Rosario de Caracol
bedecked in jewelry and rich satin robes rolled out

the swish and boom of skyrocketing fireworks
bounced off the plaza and faded as it hit the trees
while the faithful labored at tugging and pushing
the rickety carriage through the cobbled church front

cued by fireworks blast the baton was twirled and hurled
and sent hurtling back into the majorette's hand
with a shrill whistle she signaled the start of the “caracol”
and the “Banda Numero Uno” struck up a lively Sousa march

like ipil branches blown by the seaside breeze
arms and hips swayed one side to the other
shoulders to and fro, heads jerking smartly
midst cheers of little urchins by the wayside

the throng of religious “hermanas” and “manangs”
with righteous vigilance cordoned off their precious space
at the procession fringes their hands held a long nylon rope
while the other hand clutched their favorite beads

following the lead band and behind the “carosa”
flaunting their humble piety and pompous vanity
rings on fat fingers flashed counting Ave Marias
in misunderstood tongue but spiritual indulgence no less

not too far from rear of the pious ladies' group
another marching party bobbed and swayed to the lilt
of a second rate band's brassy and arrhythmic ululations
simple farmers, fishermen, vendors in honest dance

as the marching wended through the barrio
bystanders eating at street-side “caridad” kiosks
were cajoled by the paraders to join the revelry
and drop the sticky “suman” and “biko” by the wayside

at the tail end of the long procession
raucous riff raff and the town's other lowlife creatures
visibly inebriated swayed in cadence with the percussive
enticement of a mere snare drum and a tinny tympani

with both hands waving gin bottles, each sway
ending with a swig of gin and the potent “lambanog”
revelers seeking redemption and absolution dance away
accumulated misdeeds and malefactions in the year past

with the atmosphere of headiness and stupefaction
a few having one too many buckled and fell
dropping by the wayside but with the smile of the repentant,
looking innocent and with the blissful face of the forgiven

at the “aplaya”, just behind village barber's house
fisher-folks growing excitement with the approaching band
a “basnig” gaily festooned was readied to carry the Virgin
on a sturdy wooden platform lashed on massive outriggers

row on row dressed up fishing vessels lined up the shore
wide brimmed “talakop” and smaller “basnig” waved gay buntings
all in wait to board the townspeople for the “ligid”
the annual fluvial parade in honor of town's beloved Patroness

amidst shouts and cheers, our Lady was boarded on the main boat
a dozen bronze-skinned fishermen heaved at the heavy icon
planting it on a platform and lashed it steadfastly on the mast
with stout abaca ropes to secure it for the dizzying ride

with the bands now grouped as one, they struck up
a loud but tolerable rendition of the River Kwai March
mingling with the excited noise of people boarding their boats
and the staccato burst of “kwitis” in the bright noonday sky

It was a joy to watch the boats escorting the Virgin's “basnig”
as it glided on the calm waters moving towards an appointed spot
with the Virgin's boat securely moored a safe distance from shore
the “ligid” started from a standstill to making loops round and round

the “ligid” picked up pace as the band went up tempo
a score of vessels with cheering riders went on dizzying rounds
then without a signaling cue the roar of engines were cut silent
the boats continued to turn in momentum then to a bobbing halt

a young lad dived from boat side, the water went into a boil
as young men and boys all joined in like dolphins at play
some swam towards the shore and everyone on the pretty boats rode
back to the waiting bacchanal and temporal excesses on the shore

another year, another “caracol”, another “ligid” done
criminals and felons now forgiven for last year's sins
with homage done mansions above await the pious ladies and
the men assured of bountiful catches and safe faring on this year's seas

La Virgen de Santisimo Rosario is back in a chapel recess
watches over the faithful with hardened salty granules on her cheeks
everyday her hands extended for urchins and old ladies to rub their hankies
it is another long year before her moment of glory in a tiny Salinas town

No comments: