Thursday, May 26, 2011

Obando Fiesta 2011

 "umakyat sa Antipolo, nagsayaw sa Obando..." - Lea Salonga

Sorry Lea, but I just danced and joined the festivities of Obando.

Getting There

I did a familiarization tour last month. Details on how to reach Obando is posted there.

The Fiesta

The feast of Obando aka Obando Fertility Rites is a three day celebration held every 17th to 19th of May. It is said that if you dance during the feast of its three patron, San Pascual de Baylon, Santa Clara de Assisi, and Nuestra Señora de Salambao, you will be blessed with children. That's right, devotees (particularly the childless couples) from different parts of the country who wish to have a child do come and dance during the feast.

San Pascual de Baylon
San Pascual de Baylon, the Patron Saint of the Eucharist, is the patron on the first day of Obando Fiesta. If you could still remember your Noli Me Tangere back in high school days, Padre Damaso advised Doña Pia Alba to dance in the fiesta of San Pascual. Then vwalla, she had Maria Clara.

Santa Clara de Assisi
Santa Clara de Assisi, the Patroness Saint of Good Weather, comes on the second day of the feast. It is said that her feast day is the most celebrated among the three. 

Nuestra Señora de Salambao
Nuestra Señora de Salambao (Our Lady of Salambao), the Patroness of the Fishermen, is the patron on the last day of the feast. It is said that the image of the virgin Mary, the one in the altar of the Obando Church, was caught by a fisherman on his salamabao (a local fish net)

Once every day during the three day feast, all the images of these three patrons are sent into procession. Joined by brass band, devotees, old women, the hermanos and hermanas, and tourists, they dance with full of energy

street dancing lolas
After the procession, the image of that day's patron will be brought inside the church where everyone will welcome it with cheers and claps. Finally when the image reaches the altar, the fertility dance rites will commence.

After the dance, devotees (the Obando babies, couples blessed with children) will attest the miracles of the Obando Fertility Rites by giving testimonies.

The Food
Going to Obando on its feast is like going to Antipolo on an ordinary Sunday. Food stalls that sells kakanin, cashew nuts, and many other sweets are everywhere. Big time food chains also came at the plaza.

Food stalls line the streets of Obando
The Experience

I was expecting another religious feast similar to the feast of the Black Nazarene. Little fun, little food and some kilabot factors. I was never a dancer, so I'm not so sure if this fiesta will pass my standards.

I asked Ian Dela Peña, a Pinoy Travel Blogger and my host for this event, when is the perfect day to go to Obando Festival. He told me that the feast of Sta. Clara de Assisi on the second day of the Obando Fiesta is the most celebrated.

So I visited Obando on the second day of the feast (May 18).

the Church of Obando
text muna

I arrived at around 7:30 am, a lot of people, devotees and tourist, flock the church's entrance. They were welcoming the three patrons' images being brought out for the procession. I was just right in time, the procession was about to start.

I saw a lot of old women in their Filipiniana costumes. They would be the dancers of the procession. The brass band was also there, preparing their lungs for the long and tiring procession.

By 8:00 am, as soon as Sta. Clara was brought out from the church, the procession started. All the ladies (the ones wearing the Filipiniana costume) in the procession danced with the tune of the brass music. It was really fun watching them.

one of the Brass bands on the procession
lolas again
more lolas
woot. todo bigay
another lola
lots of lola
At the front of the procession are young boys serving the altar. The boys on the first row, tasked to carry the poles of Cross, probably have the most tiring duty.

the Altar boys
The traditional pa-Caridad (giving food or drink without accepting anything in return) was still seen on the procession. Some people along the way do give water to everyone in the procession.

pa-Caridad, one of my favorite Pinoy traditions

Joining the procession was indeed an exhausting thing to do. So I went back to church after reaching half the route of the procession.
devotees of San Pascual
devotees of Santa Clara
the original image of Nuestra Señora de Salambao, placed in the altar
After resting for almost an hour inside the church, the images were now at the gates of the church. I went out to see if the dancers are still hyped in dancing, they still are. Then I received a message from Ian, a fellow travel blogger who was at the feast too. And so we decided to meet up.

oh yeah.. passionate dancers
San Pascual waiting outside the church
Our Lady of Salambao
Santa Clara

When I saw him, he dragged me back inside the church, the fertility dance ritual is about to start. What? the dance ritual will be held inside? All this time, I really thought that the dances are done at the plaza. 

The Strange Feeling... Goosebumps mode.

While inside, waiting for the image of Sta. Clara to reach the altar, devotees who came to dance in the ritual started clapping and cheering. A strange feeling was starting to cover me (what's happening? is it just the warm atmosphere or am I being blessed with great fertility?), probably the first timer's instinct.

the three patrons just outside the Church's door

In 3..2..1.. the brass band started playing folk music, everyone started to dance. Even the carosa Sta. Clara was dancing too. Then I felt goosebumps all over me. Suddenly I danced with the crowd, as if I was possessed by something. Grabe! sobra ang kilabot ko.

It was really hot inside, everyone was sweating.

the dancing Santa Clara
hot indeed
wooh. party party!
party party!
When the fertility dance rites was over, we immediately went out of the church. Wooh, fresh air. Dancing in Obando is another accomplished goal.

The Town of Obando 

After that strange experience, Ian invited me for a short tour around the town of Obando.

We went first to a fish port, locally known as "Ponduhan". From here you can ride a boat to a place called Binuwangan where it is believed that the image of Nuestra Señora de Salambao was found. We saw kids posing as they play in the dark water. 

the fish port
the kids who love posing
boats by the port
We then went to his relative's house, had a lunch there (sir Ian, sobrang thank you, ansarap nung kare kare). After the meal, we again photowalked the streets of Obando for about an hour before I finally went back to Manila.

Obando Church's bell tower
the church's front door
a monument at Plaza Magsaysay
Obando's Municipal Hall
dancing statues of in front of the Municipal hall
a cemetery behind the church



  1. It looks like you had so much fun (dancing). :D Enjoy Philippine fiestas!

  2. niceeeee! i envy you :( .. i wasnt able to skipped work .. nice one!

  3. I am glad that you enjoyed your stay..... next time I'll take you farther to Bulacan, Bulacan.
    You have great photographs too... very good composition... good job! hope to travel with you again soon!



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