Angono is a municipality of Rizal and is located 30 kilometers east of Manila and is known as “Arts Capital of the Philippines” as it is the hometown of two national artists – Lucio San Pedro and Carlos “Botong’ Francisco. This town has a very rich culture and traditions. And this town is where I was born.
Though I did not grow up in Angono, my mom and my dad will still bring us to Angono at least twice or once a month because my mom’s family resides in Angono. And one of the occasions that we never miss each year is the celebration of the feast of Pope St. Clement, every November 23.
November 23 is a much-awaited day in Angono, it is the day where everyone comes together for a joyous, fun and colourful musical procession/parade which most people refer as “pagoda.” St. Clement’s image is borne by male devotees during the procession. There is a marching band playing lively music while parehadoras devotees dressed in colorful local costumes, wooden shoes and carrying boat paddles also join the procession. Of course the celebration will not be as colourful without the famous “Higantes – paper mache to giants measuring four to five feet in diameter and ten to twelve feet in height. As the parade makes it way around the town people are throwing water at each other, regardless if you are part of the parade or just a by-stander.
In Winnipeg, this festivity carries on…
Since my family and I came to Canada in 2009, we have witnessed how Filipino immigrants from Angono has recreated the fiesta celebration here in Winnipeg. Angono Rizal Association of Winnipeg (ARAW) is the group responsible in hosting this celebration every year. The celebration used to be held in Philippine-Canadian Centre in Manitoba (PCCM) but since more and more newcomers from Angono are arriving in Winnipeg and more and more guests are joining the celebration, in the recent years the celebration is being held in a bigger local parish hall. Angono fiesta, the Winnipeg version is nothing else but FUN. Each year more than four long tables will be filled with different Filipino food and delicacies because each family brings their special dish to share. There will be a DJ who will play lively music while everyone dance. There will be 50/50 and silent auction raffles to be drawn. Even if we are unable to march outside because everyone knows how cold it will be because November is winter time in Winnipeg, it is never a reason for us not to have our version of the much awaited colorful and lively parade. Our celebration here in Winnipeg is concluded with the line dancing participated by almost everyone going around the hall, while the new hermano also marches with everyone while carrying the image of St. Clement. And yes, we also throw water.
Everyone will leave the hall with a smile in their faces, this is why, I really hope that this tradition will continue on so that even if my youngest, who is now 3 years old, will have a chance to experience how fun and exciting it is to celebrate a fiesta and so that she will also witnessed how fun-spirited Filipinos are!