Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Asing Biniray?—The Fabicon-Fadrilan dialogue (2)

Let me refresh my readers about the Biniray, the subject of Fabicon-Fadrilan dialogue a year ago, which I retrieved, with the help of the former, from the archives.

The main reason I am writing about the topic is to provide Asi Banto-anons, Sibalenhons, Simaranhons, Odionganons, and Calatravanhons—and whoever is interested—a historical perspective of this enduring religious traditions which, I believe, is the thread that holds the Asi tribe together culturally and spiritually.

To understand the Biniray is to understand the Bantoanon psyche; to participate in it is to be interested in the evolution of the Bantoanons’ religious development.

As Fabicon wrote: “Maagnum ni hambilingon ka Biniray, lalo-ey kung ka mga batasan ag tradisyong pang kultural o pang sosyedad ay kaibhanan.”

It is in this context that we continue peering into the dialogue.

Asing biniray para kang San Nicolas?

Fadrilan: Inggwa pa et ibang dahilan. Si San Nicolas ay santong patron et mga marino (mariners). Sa Banton, inggwa et dating lanson nak ka ngayan ay San Nicolas. Ka tag-iya it kali ay taga-Soyawan sa Brgy. Banice. Ka ngayan et osang kompanya et mga lanson biyaheng Palawan et mga Fabula ay San Nicolas Lines. In Old Manila, San Nicolas was also a popular patron saint of many Chinese in the San Nicolas district of Binondo. An anecdote has it that through the intercession of San Nicolas, a Chinese child was saved from being devoured by a crocodile in the Pasig River. The Chinese used to have a fluvial parade (Biniray?) in honor of San Nicolas from Sta. Ana to Binondo (Del Pan) in the Pasig River.

There are San Nicolas patronal feast celebrations in about 40 town parishes, but four dioceses in the Philippines do not have the fluvial parade, or Biniray, event in their celebrations.

Fabicon: Your comments invite other trivia:St. Nicholas had performed significant miracles as well. The Senyor, stories had it, saved nine passengers in a sinking ship by holding on to them a lily.

In another occasion, he saved the burning castle of the Duke of Venice by throwing a piece of his famous blessed bread!Banton has its share of the San Nicholas story as well.

During the heydey of the galleon trade, the locals had contacts with the shipbuilders in Marinduque, thus, loan Spanish words in the Asi vocabulary exist to the present day: camarote, pugon, aribada, gromete, etc.

It was very possible that some Romblomanons, in general, and Bantoanons, in particular, as Bisayans, already learned the "language of the purling waves" in Cornelio Faigao's award winning poem, "The Brown Child").

The Bisayans' navigation skills were manna to the Spanish colonizers. Spanish chroniclers wrote of galleon ships manned by Bisayan crew members.It is significant to note that other than lanson and batil, the Bantoanons' alternative vessel for barter and trade was the pasahi/pasahe—a much-improved version of the biray.

It was very common during Biniray when a lanson or a batil were in drydock in Nasunogan. The pasahi took over as Senyor San Nicholas' "flagship". Devotees were all cramped in the upper deck as they sang and prayed in Hiligaynon!

Fadrilan: Unang nagrana sa isip et mga Biniray leaders kaling plano et kag guing totokor pa yang kag Silver Biniray, tuig 2007.

Inggua et pilang bangor, kung asing mahirap mahinabo kali sa nakraan: 1) Rakong gastos (plete, pagkaon, bayon) para sa mga deboto ni San Nicolas; 2) Mahabang oras (adlaw) nak sinra ay mapalta sa trabaho; 3) Marisgo ka biyahe sa ragat—ka buyan nak Septiyembre ay mabagyo, mauyan; ag 4) Waya et mas makusog nak dahilan. Inggua ra et Biniray (original) sa Banton.

Maramong Bantoanon nak nakaistar ngasing sa ibang lugar (liwit-liwit) ay nagpapauli sa Banton, banwang tinubuan, para sa pagrom-rom sa mga religious traditions kung Mahay nak Adlaw. Sa Metro Manila ag ibang lugar sa Luzon, ka imahe ni San Nicolas ay nag roro-aw sa mga bayay et debotong Bantoanon tuna et kag tuig 1999.

Ka naging mahadag nak ideya ngasing ay dapat pag-usahon ka selebrasyon et tanang Biniray events para kang San Nicolas. Ka main event ay dapat mahinabo sa "bayay" et ka Makaako ag ka ida serbidor nak si San Nicolas sa Banton. Ka mga ibang selebrasyon sa Romblon capital town, Odiongan, Metro Manila, ag Texas (USA) ay mga "supporting events".

Ngasing nak tuig 2008, ka tema et pista sa Banton ag Metro Manila ay a osa: "Nurturing Tradition, Living the Faith". Tan-a sa masunor nak mga tuig,kaling pagkakausa ay mahinabo. Osang Makaako. Osang Pagsalig. Osang San Nicolas. Osang Biniray.

Fabicon wrote that pre- and post-World War II Biniray activities enlivened the September Biniray week attributed to the active participation of the local government.

Fabicon: Perhaps, it is worthy of mention three Bantoanons—among the many in Banton's local history—ex-municipal mayors Silvestre Festin, Dionisio Fetalvero and teniente del barrio of Sibay, Luis Fabicon.

The three in the early 30s were known as "Manila boys", since they spent perhaps a couple or more of their post-teenage lives in Manila doing odd jobs before returning and living in Banton permanently.

Silvestre and Dionisio married fiesta queens, Nang Biday Fabonan and Nang Antang Fadri of "Miss Jones" fame, respectively. Luis married Felipa Festin-Faigao, the only daughter of Rufo Faigao, Banton's first elected municpal president.

The three men and their wives were very active in the promotion of Biniray in Banton, leading and organizing the communal pakaon, sadaw, comedia, koronasyon, novenas, banda performances, which were never absent as Biniray highlights.Without bias, Luis and Felipa had other things to do in Sibay. The couple’s first-born, Nicolas, born on September 10, died an infant's death, but they moved on.

The couple eked out a living, before they went to post-war teaching, by putting up a profitable sari-sari store in Sibay, one of the earliest Spanish posts in the island. Luis engaged in small business barter plying the neighboring islands in his pasahe, named, if i am not mistaken, San Nicolas. San Nicolas's crew saw two hardworking young men, Jose Faminial Sr. and Eugenio Fonte Sr.

Manong Joe, who is now retired in Toronto, Canada brings in him the "knowledge of the purling waves." Ask him about wind directions and he will oblige at will. The late Manong Gene, became a district supervisor in Romblon's public educational system.

Rinzi, it seems to me that prior to Suyawan and Banice, Sibay—with the San Nicolas pasahi and the sari-sair store as business models—gave birth to the concept of a corporation when the lanson Pinagaralan was launched under the leadership of ex-mayor Macario Festin. Pinagaralan also participated as flagship in the Biniray.

What am I writing about? It is, unfortunately, only a few of the many stories about all of us—our culture and history as an Asi community.

There are much more. Senyor San Nicolas is one of our major players in the search of our past and our faith in the pre- and post-Spnish Makaako The Biniray in manila cements what we have gone through regardless of our religious beliefs, our partisanhips, and kinships.

Lastly, Fabicon wrote: “Ka Biniray ag kulturang kayatay nak kung baga ay nakaluyloy sa ato mga paino-ino ay usang katawuhan it Asing kalag.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Asing Biniray?—The Fabicon-Fadrilan dialogue (1)

I should have written about this a long time ago—Ismael Fabicon’s and Rinzi Fadrilan’s dialogue on Biniray which took place, of all places, in the navigable highway of the Internet.

Biniray is ancient, the Internet is recent. The former is a religious tradition, while the latter is a communications technology innovation.

In this context and in many ways, the dialogue was a convergence and one can notice the similarities between the actors and the parallelism of the object of their exchange.

Both Fabicon and Fadrilan are Asi, from Banton. Fabicon lives in the United States, Fadrilan in the Philippines. Both are writers and consumed with undying love for the Asi culture and identity.

Biniray, a potent brew of superstition and religious faith, has reached its apogee in the eastern hemisphere, but its symbol—the Cross, which was the twin of the Sword—the weapon of monarchial Spain when it was rampaging to pursue its dreams of empire, is western.

Thus, in a sense, the dialogue was a case of the East meeting the West. And whether you are a devout believer or an agnostic, you cannot escape the significance of the long-distance dialogue, much less the life-long obsession about Biniray in a digital age characterized by many Catholics now going to a virtual confessional rather than visiting a real church.

Readers who can read and understand our language—the dialogue was in Asi—can surely plumb the depths of Fabicon’s passion about the Bisayans’ religiosity demonstrated by the Biniray. In the same breath, they will also appreciate Fadrilan’s knowledgeable, but detached, narrative of the genesis of some words which has come to be part of the Asi lexicon.

The dialogue started with Fabicon asking the question, “Asing Biniray?” after he had seen some photos of the 2008 Biniray in Tanza, Cavite.

By introduction, the Banton Biniray is a religious feast, held in September of every year in honor of the island’s patron saint—St. Nicholas de Tolentino.

A decade ago, Bantoanons who cannot come home to Banton in September of every year decided to hold a tamer version of the Biniray in Luzon. Corregidor in Bataan, according to Fadrilan, was the situ of the Biniray for the first few years. Then, it was transferred to Tanza in Cavite. Bantoanons in many places in Luzon came to Tanza to join the celebration, the number increasing every year and the activities associated with the celebration, improving and—what can one say?—veering farther and farther away from the essence of Biniray.

I said this aware that some Bantoanons will contradict me. I can assure them, however, that this observation is not meant to disparage the Biniray, but only to point out that like most religious festivals anywhere else in the Philippines, the Biniray has been diluted by the amenities of modernity—sports, raffle, songs, dances, and food and drink parties—so much so that its religious aspect is dimmed, lost, among the younger generation of Bantoanons who may not have a sense of the Biniray’s rich and colorful history.

This is so because the Biniray in Luzon, because it is held outside the original site—in Banton—has lost the quality of authenticity of place. “Kawang” is how I express this quality in Asi. St. Nicholas de Tolentino, if he were alive, would have known that the fluvial parade held in his honor is in alien water, sea, or ocean. But would he care? Would he care when the Biniray in Luzon, though tamer, imbues the Bantoanon religious with the same electric solemnity and devotion as the original Banton Biniray?

It is in this context that I place the Fabicon-Fadrilan exchange. Here is the dialogue, with my sparse parenthetical comments.

Ish Fabicon: “Ak nagtarok rutong mga ging paranang mga retrato ni Philip. Kag ragipon sa tema nak pagpahupot, pagparuyot, pagpalangga,, pagya-um, ag pagsalig sa "tradisyong pang relihiyon" sa mga deboto ni Sr. San Nikolas sa Tanza, Cavite, kung silinggon, ay usa ra gihapong pag-adungkar it ato mga naghihingayo-ey ag nasasambit yangey nak aspetong pang kultural.

Maaring kaling bulay-bulayon ay nakahayhay nak mga tradisyong pangrelihiyon, lalo-ey sa mg deboto, nak kung baga’y matikasog ka inra pag-ampo sa Makaako ag pagkibir sa inra kinabuhing espiritwal.Asing Biniray? Bag-o mag-abot kag mga Kastila, kag mga Bisaya, sa inra sariling rila it kinabuhi, ay ging pasam-ing ka mga kinahangyang pang adlaw-adlaw sa baroto, ramyog, ag sasakyang mas rako, o Biray.

Kinang Biray nak de-katig gihapon ay imaw ninra't panglaban sa makusog nak bayor it habagat ag amihan para magbayduhan
(barter—NFF) sa iba't ibang isla it mga utanon, tangkon, isra, banig, baro ag iba pang-komersyal nak hiwaton.

Masisiling gihapon nak raha sa baroto, ramyog ag biray gi buskar ka pahilas, patikyar, pataktak it subok, konsepto it pangupong, sanrokan, binuligan, pag-ampo, ragipon, haklahan, sumsuman, ru-aw, pakibat—ag iba pang tradisyong indi-ey nato masambit.”

(I will add to this enumeration of Asi traditions the katipon and ayadon—still being practiced, but rarely, now in Sibale—NFF).

Ish Fabicon: “Kag mga prayleng Rekoletos ay ayam kina. Inra ging pabad-an kinang mga katutubong hiwas agor inot-inot ag mahumok ka inra pagtuy-og it Krisityanismo. Sa karurugayon, nagyuyutaw pa gihapon kinang mga tradisyon nak kina. Ka Biniray ay pangtubi/pangragat. Ka istorya ay nagbusri sa Cebu it kag napasimayatan it mga sundalo ni Legazpi katong muslag nak santos (icon) ni Santo Nino. Buko matilong pagbanrog ka nahinabo ruto sa Cebu. Kag nasaduran ni Legazpi nak kato yaking santos nak Santo Nino ay naging "Ginoong Uyan" (Rain God) it mga Cebuano, ging butang nida sa altar it paghigugma ag katong mga natipon nak mga estoryang pag-ampo ay napalapnag sa kaislahan it bug-os nak Bisaya.

Maaring kung buko uyanon (kuaresma) ag kada Mayo sa Cebu, nahalar sinra it mga palma nak buyak agor ka Santo Nino ay taw-an sinra it rugos nak uyan agor masasabligan ka inra mga katunlan ag paninanom.Ayam nato nak waya gi ruyog si Legazpi sa Cebu dahil nak gusto pa ninrang sohuton kag iba pang isla it Pilipinas.

Kag Santo Nino ay napagka-usahan nak dar-on ruto sa Maynila. Pitong beses nak ging sakay kag Santo Nino sa barko papagto, pero pitong beses ra gihapon nak nakabalik kag Santo Nino sa Cebu.

Rakong katingaya it mga Cebuano—aber pa kuno inapuros sa pitong kahon nak bay-utan ka karagko, imaw gihapon nak sa masunor nak adlaw, si Santo Nino ay nayutaw sa Cebu! Inggwa pa ngani it usang beses kuno nak kung hagto'y si Santo Nino sa simbahan it San Agustin sa Manila, inutoy it mga Prayle kag napaki ni Santo Nino agor indi makabaktas sa rayan—maparagat o mapaduta—pa Cebu!Sa karurugayon, kag metologo (myth) it Santo Nino it Cebu, ay nagbayahak ag nagyapita sa buha it mga Bisaya—mga estoryang ging hinghing ninra ag pinaruyot sa kapwa Bisaya—riin mang liwit-liwit; sa inra pagga-or, liyo-liyo, ag bugsay it baroto, ramyog, ag biray.

Kada ngani, sa islang Romblon, inggwa gihapon it Biniray, yabot yang ka estorya, ugaling pareho yang ka yaguntar it hinabo. Sa mga Romblomanon, kag Santo Nino kuno it kato ay apaliwason sa simbahan ag itap-ok sa ibang lugar. Pitong beses ka biyahe it galyon, pitong beses ka subasko, pitong beses rang inabalik si Santo Nino rutong ida nahihimtangan sa yumang simbahan it Romblon!

Sa pueblo it Banton, pitong beses nak dar-on si Senyor San Nicolas sa pueblo it Mainit, pitong beses ka subasko, pitong beses nak nakabalik si Senyor sa yumang simbahan it Poblacion!"
(To be continued.)