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2006 – Vamos A Belen 2006

PerformanceVamos a Belen 2006
Date and TimeDec 21 , 2006 – 10:00 AM
Dec 22 , 2006 – 3:00 PM and 8:00 PM (Gala)
VenueCultural Center of the Philippines
TheaterTanghalang Nicanor Abelardo
TypeSeason Production


KAGHARONG (Sto. Niño, Pilar, Sorsogon)
PANARIT (Laurente, Eastern Samar)
MAYTINIS (Mendez, Cavite)
MAYTINIS (Kawit, Cavite)

MGA ANGHEL AT KERUBIN (Angels in the Realm of High)
HERMANA (Principal Lady)
TULO KA HARI (Adoration of the Magi)

PASTORES KALAWIT (Kalawit, Camotes Island, Cebu)
PASTORES MERCEDES (Mercedes, Eastern Samar)
PASTORES TALISAY (Talisay, Camarines Norte)


SAGING NA BELEN / DAIGON (Bacong, Negros Oriental)
NAZARENO (Datag, Siaton, Negros Oriental)

PASTORES TOBOG (Tobog, Oas, Albay)
PASTORES CARAMOAN (Caramoan, Catanduanes)


I.POSADAS (Search for an Inn)

The posadas is the re-enactment of the search for a place to stay for the night by Mary and Joseph on the first Christmas eve, where they plead to heartless innkeepers in songs and verses to give them shelter for the night. Posadas was introduced to the Philippines from Mexico and since then it has metamorphosed into many delightful versions.

Some spectacular versions of the posadas are popularized as Panunuluyan what (Tagalog). Kagharong (Bicol), Panarit (Waray), Ensayo (Southern Leyte) and Maytinis (Cavite). Here, the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group presents four versions:

Kagharong (Sto. Niño, Pilar, Sorsogon)
A Mary, a Joseph and an Innkeeper exchange verses in the Bicol dialect

Panarit (Laurente, Eastern Samar)
Panarit is Waray term for rejection. Mary and Joseph is accompanied by a chorus singing in the singsong manner making the request for a place to rest in their behalf, while the couple together the Innkeeper simply act out their parts without singing or saying a word.

Maytinis (Mendez, Cavite)
Mothers from Mendez who happen to be pregnant at Christmastime slowly follow the Holy Couple as they move from house to house in the search reenactment.

Maytinis (Kawit, Cavite)
Maytinis is taken from the Latin word “matins” which means midnight vespers. Historic Kawit boasts of the most impressive posadas which includes a parade procession, small floats, thousands of walking contingents, a singing and acting Mary and Joseph and four innkeepers waiting on decorated porches of designated houses and a lot more. The Maytinis procession snakes through selected streets of Kawit on Christmas Eve and culminates in the old stone church where a Misa de Gallo is said to announce the birth of the Savior. The scene featuring the meanest innkeeper is reenacted here.

II. VAMOS A BELEN (The Nativity Scene)

Popularly known as the belen, short for Bethlehem it is a living tableaux representing the glorious nativity scene. Perhaps the oldest Filipino Christmas symbol, the belen or crèche is believed to have been started by St. Francis de Assisi, originating from Italy, adopted in Spain, traveled to Mexico and finally introduced to the Philippines in the early 1700’s

Mga Anghel at Kerubin (Angels in the Realm of High).
Young girls dressed up as angels sing heavenly praises while gently leading the tired couple to the belen.

Hermana (Principal Lady).
Taken from a popular practice of some Visayan towns, the Hermana, a prominent and respected lady of the community carries with great reverence an image of the NiñcDormido (Sleeping Child) to the belen in the altar Overhead, she is accompanied by a dancing parol or paper lantern signifying the Star of David. This particular version known as Sayaw sa Bitoon (Dance of the Stars) is from Bacong, Negros Oriental. A star-star, sun-star and a comet are made to dance using drawstrings over the heads of midnight mass goers, from the choir loft to the altar. This is accompanied with the boisterous rendition of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus Tulo Ka Hari (Adoration of the Magi). Another highlight of the Christmas tableaux are the three. wise men Each in their resplendent costumes, they are accompanied by an entourage of assistants offering gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh.

Pastores Mercedes (Mercedes, Eastem Samar) / Europe. Ever since Christmas came to be part of the islands. it never stopped changing and movina ahead, Chistmas assumed varied forms and manifested in otherways. Side by side with the belen came the world’s other Christmas traditions. tis no wonder gifts candles, carols, Christmas trees, Santa Claus, reindeers and even snow are al merily mixed in the Chrnistmas salad bowl.

Santa Lucia Bringing light to dark windy nights, Santa Lucia begins Swwedish Christmas with her shining light from candles glowing from a beautiful wreath on her head She has fairy-lilke atendants bringing gifts to good children

Christmas trees (Tanenbaum) Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree, your branches green delight us, so goes a popular carol Said to have been first seen in a window of a German house. the practice of having a beautifully decorated tree in the living room is nowa woridwide practice

Christmas in the enchanted eyes of children

Pastores Talisay (Talisay, Camanines Norte) / Mexico.
Obviously, Mexico is the one Country that lent color to Prilippine Christmas. It generously shared its sapat ados, vueltas, harabe and cambios to the Philippine dance tradition. Many of these steps found their way into many pastores versions found especially in the Bicolregion A Vist toa church-tumed museune by Ramon Obusan in the 80s in Teposoplan, Mexico gave proofthat the pastores has always been an early Mexican export preserved in some towns of the Philippines Here is a vibrant rendition o these many Mexican influences replete with china pobladas, star-lanterns, papier mache horses and colorful buntings.

III. INFLUENCES (Mga Impluwensiya)

History, community, religion and personalities have contributed immensely to the enhancement and improvement of Philippine folkways and dances. Groups who came from far shores reflect the strongest influence. The arrival of Spain, Mexico, Germany, France, the USA and several Asian neighbors scattered throughout the ages contributed to changing the culture of the Filipinos. Here is a showcase of how greatly influenced Filipinos were by outside forces.

Pastores Kalawit (Kalawit, Camotes /sland, Cebu) / United States.
Taking time-off from fishing and selling fish, the village folks gather by the shores to witness the whimsical dance of the oldies. Grandmothers don doll dresses and swing to the jazzy tune of guaratza and pachanga interspersed with local daigon, carols and verses. Very American indeed.

Pastores Bool (Bool, Bohol) / Hawaii.
This year, the ROFG was invited to perform in five major Hawaiian Islands to celebrate the “100 Years of Filipino Migration in Hawaii”. In one occasion where the Hawaiian danced for us, we recognized a familiar tune. Sure enough it is the same music used by the Bool of Bohol province for their pastores. We speculate that the first Filipino sacadas (sugarcane planters) brought the tune with them in the early 1900’s and was picked up by the Hawaiians. Or is it the other way around? Were the Hawaiians influenced the migrants?

Pastores New Washington. (New Washington, Aklan) / Bavaria.
Popular Bavarian folk and village dances introduced to the Filipinos included the Maypole. As with much else in the Philippine dances, the maypole blended well but in due time other elements and steps were changed and adapted. In this pastores from Aklan, the Niño Dormido (Sleeping Child) is found to be the centerpiece of the dance that includes a maypole.

IV. DIVERTISSEMENT (Salit-Salit, Palit-Palit)

Capitalizing on the Filipinos love for music and dance, the Catholic Church found it easy to bring them to church. The Christian calendar is peppered with fiestas, church and civic-social events resulting in a variety of celebrations highlighted by Christmas

Saging Na Belen/ Daigon. (Bacong, Negros Oriental).
Christmas carols called daigon by the Visayans are sang while constructing a belen made of banana trees. Traditional harps help out to bring out the Christmas feeling.

Nazareno (Siaton, Negros Oriental).
The marginalized Agta or Aeta of Datag, Siaton, Negros Oriental perform a dance called Nazareno, which simply honors the only image they have -Jesus of Nazareth.

Niños Inocentes (Ibajay, Aklan)
Inspired by the biblical story of the wicked King Herod who orders the slaughter of newborn male babies to include Baby Jesus, the villagers of Maluco, Ibajay, Aklan perform the Niños Inocentes ritual. The image of a sleeping child is fiercely protected by church women (Manang) from the malicious and boisterous Yawa (devil). Young men dressed in outlandish costumes and frightful masks of coconut leaf sheath are the yawas who kidnap Baby Jesus from the old ladies and have Him ransomed for money, rice, corn or any produce.

Pasko sa Smokey Mountain.
Yes Virginia, even the lowliest, most impoverished garbage mountain celebrates Christmas.


A grandmother digging through the debris and mangled house parts despairingly trying to pullout a small Christmas tree. “I have carefully decorated this tree in anticipation of a usual bright Christmas” she laments

This grandmother is one of the thousands of Bicolanos who will never celebrate a merry Christmas not after what the killer typhoon Reming has brought upon the region, Not alone has it flattened houses, downed trees, flooded towns and fields but also left hundreds dead, thousands sick and wounded, and thousands more homeless and desperate.

What was once the seat of the very best Christmas celebrations is now desolated and miserable, leaving the spirit not wanting to remember that in a few days it would be Christmas. But who cares about making merry? Who cares about Christmas! In the least manner to share sympathy and grief, the ROFG extends its helping hand to ease the hurt. Several versions of the pastores so generously shared with us in earlier visits during better times. Worst hit towns like Camalig. Oas, Daraga, Tabaco, Legaspi and Virac are each represented by popular versions of the pastores.

This small tribute, we hope, will compensate for this horrible event.

Pastores Tobog (Tobog, Oas, Albay).
Like the City of Pompeii, Tobog town sits at the foot of the majestic Mayon Volcano and is always threatened by its violent eruptions. For deliverance, Tobog villagers pray and perform several religious rituals year-round. At Christmastime a group of young girls chosen for their beauty and grace move from village to village performing the pastores.

Pastores Caramoan (Caramoan, Catanduanes).
Christmas announces itself by the appearance of young pastores girls. This quaint version includes the Hermana (Principal Lady) fondly called “señora”.

Pastores Camalig (Camalig, Albay).
Aside from the famous Cagsawa ruins buried by the violent eruption of Mt. Mayon in the 1800’s, a group of professional musicians and dancers appear at Christmastime to bring Christmas joy to town mates and neighboring villages.

Pastores Tabaco (Tabaco, Albay).
What price tradition? It must have taken so much effort for Pastores Tabaco to remain steadfastly pure” until more interesting changes came. If you think you see TV dancing or even “Japayuki” gestures performed with gusto, you are right. No amount of shielding or parrying can stop the onslaught of “modern” innovation into this dance. This pastores is a shining example of what will filter down the next generation.

Epilogue Some Enchanted Christmas

The millions who celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ view this as the heart of Christmas, yet many trappings and varied traditions that now accrue to the holiday – colorful lights, dazzling decorations: bright-lighted trees; expensive gifts; abundant food, laughter, colorful store displays; shoppers rushing: jolly Santa Claus; Hollywood and Disneyland spectacle – all these adorn Christmas like a prettily embellished tree.

Enchanting, magical, simply spectacular, fantasy-like are the hallmark of Christmas. But all these icing and garnishing have overshadowed the true meaning of Christmas — Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Man!

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