Pre-Span­ish past

Sun.Star Davao - - OPINION -

THE Fi­esta Señor sea­son in Cebu is of­fi­cially on, ush­ered in by the tra­di­tional dawn pro­ces­sion, or the “Walk with Je­sus” last Thurs­day.

My wife and I passed by the vicin­ity of the Basil­ica Mi­nore del Sto. Niño and the usual fi­esta signs were ob­serv­able, like devo­tees fill­ing up the side­walk while head­ing for the Basil­ica and ve­hi­cles fill­ing up the roads where traf­fic was rerouted.

By the way, the fi­esta is of­ten re­ferred to by the clue­less as the Sin­u­log Fes­ti­val. The Sin­u­log Fes­ti­val is but among the ac­tiv­i­ties of the feast of the Child Je­sus and cul­mi­nates with the Sin­u­log Grand Pa­rade on fi­esta day. The Sin­u­log Fes­ti­val is the cul­tural as­pect of the fi­esta and is mainly han­dled by the Sin­u­log Foun­da­tion and the Cebu City Gov­ern­ment. So its Fi­esta Señor, not Sin­u­log Fes­ti­val.

I don’t have a prob­lem with Cebu City’s Sto. Niño fi­esta cel­e­bra­tion held ev­ery third Sun­day of Jan­uary and which ex­tends the hol­i­day at­mos­phere con­jured by the Christ­mas rit­ual in De­cem­ber to Jan­uary. Our ven­er­a­tion of the Child Je­sus could be traced back dur­ing the Span­ish colo­nial pe­riod, mean­ing it is deeply rooted in our re­li­gios­ity. But the fi­esta should not lead to the down­play­ing of the ear­lier phases of our his­tory.

Cebu’s his­tory did not start with the Span­ish col­o­niza­tion of our coun­try and with it our be­ing drawn into Catholi­cism. But be­cause we fo­cus too much on the fi­esta and the Sin­u­log, we tend to lose in­ter­est in what could be a more glo­ri­ous part of our his­tory, the preS­pan­ish pe­riod.

Ce­buano his­tory did not start with the find­ing of the Sto. Niño im­age, given by the group of Fer­di­nand Magellan to Cebu’s chief­tain Hum­abon decades ear­lier. My pro­posal made a few times be­fore is for the Cebu City Gov­ern­ment (or should it be the Cebu Pro­vin­cial Gov­ern­ment) to or­ga­nize a ma­jor ac­tiv­ity that would show­case Cebu’s pre-Span­ish so­ci­ety.

Per­haps Capi­tol can link up with the Lapu-Lapu City Gov­ern­ment and come up with a big­ger “Kadau­gan sa Mac­tan” fes­tiv­ity. Be­cause un­like the Fi­esta Señor, which in a way cel­e­brates our de­feat to the Spa­niards, the Kadau­gan show­cases Lapu-Lapu and the old Cebu “civ­i­liza­tion.”

Or we can look for other high points in the pre-Span­ish pe­riod of our his­tory and play it up. Our his­to­ri­ans can help the Capi­tol in the re­search as­pect.

I think that with more data of preS­pan­ish Philip­pine so­ci­eties com­ing out the past few decades, it is time for us to play up that al­most for­got­ten pe­riod of our his­tory. We now have the ma­te­ri­als to re­con­struct that pe­riod that the Span­ish colo­nial­ists at­tempted to oblit­er­ate from our col­lec­tive psy­che.

The truth is, we would un­der­stand the Filipino more if we learn from our pre-Span­ish past. I know that be­cause I too be­came prouder of our race when I read the works of his­to­ri­ans like Wil­liam Henry Scott, who wrote the book, “Barangay: Six­teenth Cen­tury Philip­pine Cul­ture and So­ci­ety.”

Pre-Span­ish so­ci­ety was peo­pled by a proud and in­de­pen­dent race that con­sid­ered for­eign­ers, like the Spa­niards, Chi­nese, English, Arabs, etc. as equals. If only we can show­case that through a fes­ti­val or sim­i­lar ma­jor ac­tiv­i­ties that would com­pli­ment Fi­esta Señor and the Sin­u­log. Sun.Star Cebu

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