The revelry leading to the February 10 Feast Day of St. William, patron of the city, begins today.
The Laoag City Fiesta I have grown up to know was simple, dry, and forgettable. There were strings of parades, yes, but with very little fanfare. Then until now, the main attraction is a karnibal, which is not even 1/1000 as good as Enchanted Kingdom, located under the Gilbert Bridge. There, I remember going to freak shows of sirena (mermaid), babaeng ahas (lady snake), babaeng pusit (lady squid), and other human beings whose physical deformities have been exploited in cash ‘s name.
A few years ago, an ambitious mayor tried to give the Laoag City Fiesta a name, thus, the Pamulinawen Festival. A dance parade, featuring students forced to participate, was introduced. If you ask me, it was just a pretentious response to the successes of Sinulog in Cebu, the Dinagyang of Iloilo, the Masskara of Bacolod, and other well-known festivals. The Pamulinawen thing does not really mean much to us, Ilocanos.
Actually, this “festival syndrome” is sickening. Many other towns have created their own festivals, e.g. Empanada Festival, Pinakbet Festival, Dinengdeng Festival and the like, becoming less and less meaningful as they grow in number.
How I wish I could say, “Come over to our house on Feb 10”, but it is not in the tradition of Laoagueños to prepare food and entertain guests during the fiesta, in stark contrast to the gustatory hedonism that characterizes feasts in my father’s hometown in Pampanga.
To me, as with most Ilocanos, February 10 is just another day.
And it is best to leave it that way. St. William was a hermit, one who turned his back from material possessions, ephemeral joys, and earthly desires. From the time of his conversion, he lived a life of prayer, penance, and fasting until his death on February 10, 1157.
God sent the hermit, and aptly so, to serve as patron of the stingy Ilocanos.
Meanwhile, my friends Aian and Randy are busy preparing for the ostentatious Search for Ms. Laoag.
Give me a break.