Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘tradition’

​Cultural Immersion: Baguio Weddings – A Kiss, A Gong, and A Dance

The sound of gongs is strongly infusing the festive atmosphere. The bride and the groom were greeting well-wishers who had attended their wedding ceremony earlier. Looking closer at the floor near the stage, a group of men playing gongs were formed in a circle. Old men in baseball caps, traditionally dressed elderly women wearing colored beads, young men in tuxedos, and ladies in satin gowns took turns in dancing traditional dances to the beat. In such a wedding feast in Baguio, no modernity can hinder the rhythmic culture their generations have embraced. 

In the definitive Filipino culture, weddings are held as a community event. Almost – if not everyone – in the community are invited to celebrate. The bayanihan system (a classic Filipino attitude where the whole bayan or community helps one another) becomes alive in such occasions. Neighbors would voluntarily help to cook, arrange, and even organize the wedding. While this tradition is slowly dying because more couples are relying on professional wedding coordinators, this concept is still being kept in many rural provinces and cities, including Baguio.

An example of the bayanihan system – locals form a line to pass food to one another in this large gathering at my friend’s wedding.

Every Filipino loves Baguio for its cool climate, strawberries, and many popular tourist sites. I love Baguio for its meek and courteous people. Some of them have become my friends and I have the privilege to taste their culture and their way of living.

I had two friends who have recently married at Baguio. Just like how the quaint townspeople of Bulacan would hold their weddings, they similarly hold their matrimony with a community celebration. My province, Bulacan, would have videoke as a form of entertainment while Baguio people would celebrate this occasion with dances and gongs. 

Gongs are considered an ancient instrument by city people like me. I am impressed that these people would not use them for production numbers alone. Both elders and youths would join together and strike musical rhythms on it. They are accompanied with traditional dances that love and courtship to mark the occasion. 

Food being served to the community at my friend’s wedding.

Usually, they would hold their celebrations the whole day, even up to the wee hours of the morning the next day. There is an abundant flow of food, mostly made of pork and chicken, rice, and pansit (a type of Filipino noodles) which the whole community would partake. Locals are not shy to share their talents while everybody would show their appreciation to them. Celebrations would continue at the house of the bride and the groom. Old men at night would chant to call the spirit of the anito (traditional deity) to bless the gathering. As the music and dancing continues, the bride and the groom danced along with everyone. And of course, the visitors are not exempted from joining in the fun.
For the first time, I played the gong. It was heavy for me, but the hypnotic rhythm of the instrument made me enjoy every moment I danced to its tune. I just think I look awkward while dancing. My Instagram post just proves that (sorry I can’t upload the video on this blog. So please click the link to find out. I am the lady in the white dress and black blazer in the video).

Baguio people are proud of their artful heritage, as they wear woven Kalinga skirts or intermarry these designs with modern fashion. They love their culture so much the rhythm of the gongs pulse through their veins, willingly dancing along every clanging beat without hesitation. Through the sound of their instrument they become one, bringing into awareness the legacy they carry as Igorots.

Celebrations would continue at my friend’s house the whole night

Manila, a fascinating city of sights, color, sounds, is nothing as unique as this. The mixture of various cultures has turned this central city of Luzon into a melting pot of obscurity. We have become more in tuned with modernity and Western civilization, losing into consciousness the beautiful, old songs that have been passed down to us through school. Looks like Madonna’s Crazy For You has become the local fixture in videoke sessions. 
I keep on learning so much from other cultures in my own country. With all regions having their own differences, it just proves that we are a diverse society. I’m glad we have Filipinos who still carry the pride of their heritage. The Igorots are teaching us that traditional hertages are not a myth but they are living, breathing, and are worth to be celebrated for their uniqueness.

You can check out the videos on my Instagram account @rhemapenaflor. Thanks for visiting! 🙂

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In Between the Lines

I hate mediocrity. Much of ministry work today have become powerless rituals in society.

I hate dictatorship. We have pushed ourselves to hard to do work without remembering The One Thing.

I hate commercialization. Our church today has become a convenience store for self-preservation.

I hate complacency. We have forced ourselves to stay in the level because we are afraid of getting deeper.

But I love to explore. There are more important things other than doing ministry alone. Remember Mary of Bethany.

I’d rather stay broken. I am not willing to preserve myself for the sake of pride. Remember Nathaniel before the King of Persia.

I love to take risks. Sowing much of myself will reap a bountiful. Remember Paul the Apostle.

I love to give it all up. If this has to be for the of becoming closer to His heart. Remember David the King.

I am not bound by tradition but I am bound into His intimacy. May the world discover such treasure. Amen.

A Time to Share

It’s natural for us to love receiving. A lot of people, especially kids, await Christmastime because of the gifts we would be receiving. It’s a really a blessing to receive a lot. But actually, it is more blessed to give (Prov. 22:9).

In my first year in the media industry, I’m so blessed to receive a lot from a lot of people. From make-up kits to seedlings, and even winning a new pseudo-SLR – that’s a lot of blessings. These are gifts and blessings that I did not ask for and yet the Lord opened up His storehouse for me. How good and generous is my Father. But here’s one overflowing gift I’ve received of this season: sackloads of rice.

One of them I won from a raffle in a Christmas party and the other smaller package was a gift from big people in my beat. That was not meant to bribe, since it’s a tradition that these people should give. I had a hard time planning and bringing it home, as I had it carried from our service car to another car and then to my big brother’s tricycle back to our house (and it took a couple of weeks before it got to our house). Looking at the weight and quantity of the rice I brought, my mom and I thought it was too much for us. And yet, we did not hesitate to give so much of it away.

The small bag was our share (and it was overflowing on our table haha). As for the bigger sack, half of it went to my big bro. As for the other half, my mom had an idea. It was through this that I saw her heart for giving.

For a long time, my mom dreamed of sharing a lot to other people. We are not a rich family and yet in whatever she would receive, she would share it to me, to her grandchildren, her family, and even to friends. Whenever we would have shortage in our resources, she would be saddened, not because she had not enough for herself, but she had nothing to give to others. She shared to me just this morning that giving rice to our neighbors was one of her prayers. Oh, blessed be my generous mom!

Rice, candies, other goods, these are just simple gifts for the needy. But we wanted them to receive food for their hungry souls

I loved the idea of sharing what we have to our neighbors. But my mom had seven families in her heart to whom she wanted to share. Three would be from my Kuya’s apartment. The other four would be from outside.

We had parted the remaining rice into seven parts. I believe each had one to two kilos. Along with each pack is a bag of candies for the children and a canned good. But material gifts is not what she really wanted to give out. She had another thing in mind. And I almost cried when we put them into the bags.

There were gospel tracks. Yes, the ones given out with God’s salvation message inside. As there were no Christmas gospel tracks in the Christian bookstores in the nearest mall, she had her own copied xeroxed. She would admit that she is not as bold as any preacher to speak out with words of fire on the salvation message. Yet, it is her heart’s desire to see our neighbors surrendering their lives to Jesus.

My oh my…how generous is my mother indeed. Lord, bless her dear heart.

A gospel track that my mom had readied for this day. In it is a timeless message that feeds your soul.

We prayed for the bags and then set out on dark. As a natural reaction, the neighbors were grateful. But I prayed that they would take time to read the track and that the Holy Spirit will move into their hearts.

I do not write this to brag how generous we are. Actually, it was my mom who was the more generous one between us. I was just so blessed to see her heart for our neighbors that I wanted to share to others. When I saw the tracks for the first time, I felt guilty. What she did seemed small, and yet the Lord saw her big love to the unsaved. I believe she had reaped a lot in heaven for she had sown so much for His Kingdom. I did not even had the heart to do such a thing, even though my effort might seem so small. What is the quantity of our efforts if we had enormous sincerity and passion for the reason we do it? Truly, the Lord rewards these passionate people in unexpected ways, and somehow, I could sense that my mother will be blessed enormously.

In our culture today, we view Christmas as a time to receive and receive. Families would go out on the 25th to do the modern tradition of “namamasko”, going from house to house expecting to be given gifts. But my mom taught me that we should reverse that and instead, we should go from house to house to give not only gifts but also Jesus’ pure, unrelenting love. What we did yesterday was just a glimpse on how big and genuine is my mother’s heart to share.

May many see God’s great love through the birth of His dear Son on earth. May the whole world feel the Father’s love when His Son died on the cross for all of us. May the Lord bless people just like my mom who wanted the world to see His love through giving. And may the young generation like me become generous just like my mom. It is indeed more blessed to share. We cannot keep what we receive to ourselves or we’ll receive no more.

I’m sure there are other “secret santas” out there who anonymously give what they have out of love. May you be blessed abundantly! Merry Christmas to all and may the heavens pour out on everyone! 🙂

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