Taytay ni Juan


Come June 24 this year of 2017, the town of Taytay and the St. John the Baptist Parish will jointly celebrate fiesta. It is the feast and solemnity of the birth of the Parish’s patron, St. John the Baptist. It is also the historic occasion of the 438th founding anniversary of Taytay as a town and local Church by the Venerable Fr. Juan de Plasencia, a Franciscan missionary.

Almost five centuries have gone by since the town of Taytay came into being, but its birth date and its founder are yet to be formally recognized. “Formally” would mean deliberately declaring such matters of paramount importance in fitting and proper manner. (Taytay foundation day) 

We had emerged from so long, long years of Christian faith and culture. Such historic encounter shaped and united us as a town and people, as a country and nation—and that’s what we are today. For all its worth, that, we could not just shrug off and disregard as for a tree to cut off its roots. Or, as a person having no known parents, that is, “putok sa buho” in local parlance.

Celebrating the birth date, however, is not just about parties, jubilant celebrations, and holidays. This is a historic event rich in heritage and tradition but regrettably left unnoticed and out of concern to many. (Taytay foundation day) 

Fiesta celebration has become a time-honored tradition throughout the country. It is most common to observe the yearly fiesta patronal (patronage festival), which is dedicated to a patron Saint of whatever territorial entity—be it a town, parish, barrio, or chapel—that is observing it. Such is clearly religious in nature and it had centuries-old Hispanic cultural heritage.

Oftentimes, the fiesta is also associated with the foundation day of the celebrating entity, based purely on historicity. Perhaps, others interject with deliberate philosophy or advocacy, or a combination of whatever sorts, other than the traditional religious ones. Seldom are the ones which are based on legends, and rare are some with “confused or distorted” agenda and perspective.

And lo! The St. John the Baptist Parish Church is on the right track as it celebrates its fiesta patronal, and for that matter, its 438th year of founding anniversary.

That as well welcomes the 2017 Year of the Parish in joyful anticipation of the “500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines” on 16 March 2021. And now we look forward to four more years of a wondrous journey being a community proud of its roots as Taytayeños, Filipinos, and Christians. 

And that’s how it should be.

It has been observed in Taytay in recent memory the persistence of two town fiestas celebrated within a year—one on a Sunday, on or after the 15th day of February, which is under the auspices of the Taytay Municipio. The other one, of course, is on June 24, by the Parish Church of St. John the Baptist. That’s aside from the five barrio/barangay fiestas

But there ought to be only one town fiesta of Taytay. Many towns—in fact, almost all—celebrate by way of the traditional fiestas we have been accustomed to in featuring the usual revelries, parades, entertainment, musicals, amateur contests, parlor games, and various forms of festivities, including the festival of their own home products and industries. Even oftentimes with a lavish display of hospitality like the usual “handaan,” and at times, with fireworks and excessive booze.

Somehow, it was put right when the supposedly February fiesta started to be regarded as an occasion of “thanksgiving day” some time ago near the coming of the Jubilee Year 2000 during Rev. Fr. Ben Guevara’s term as the parish priest. From thereon, the June 24th feast day of St. John the Baptist, as fitting as it should, remains to be honored as the sole and the properly acknowledged town fiesta of Taytay. 

[Related: Taytay legends and history]

But it is of much regret, though, the introduction of a so-called “hamaka festival” in lieu of the thanksgiving day which is supposedly religious in nature.

Admittedly, “hamaka” seems only a plain translation into Tagalog of the English word “hammock.” Another synonymous word of which is “duyan” in Tagalog.  

On commenting on this is in no way to cast aspersion on the said festival concept. It’s unfair that such a joyful festival is to be flatly rejected. We desire not to refrain the festival per se, nor the “hamba-makina-kasuotan” (jambs-machines-clothes) of our local industries that it is supposed to promote.

For such promotion of our produce is unequivocally laudable. It’s worthy of our hundred-and-one-percent support and encouragement. “Banghusay,” we must say for such endeavor of making it part and parcel of our culture and heritage!

What is unpleasing is the careless choice and use of the word “hamaka”; for “hamaka” had become a historic symbol and word of piety linked to the “hamaka pilgrims” of Our Lady of Antipolo, the dearly beloved patroness of our Diocese.

We cherish the memoir of 438 years of Taytay’s parish of St. John the Baptist being part of our first Diocese of Manila for exactly 400 years (1583-1983). And on the 25th of June 1983—the day after the feast of St. John the Baptist who “prepares the way of the Lord”—our Diocese of Antipolo, whom we dedicated to our Blessed Mother, the  Nuestra Señora dela Paz y Buen Viaje, was canonically erected.

Hence, I beg to say in earnest and with much regret that such liberal use of “hamaka” is an affront to religious sensibility, especially to those devotees of the Blessed Nuestra Señora dela Paz y Buen Viaje. The purportedly “hamaka” word coined in the festival needs amending in terminology for the sake of communal harmony and understanding.

Frank acknowledgment and clear depiction of our historical past is a great challenge and worthy of study. We live to cherish our rich heritage and cultural tradition. For all we know, a lot more of the historic past is just silently standing on the sides along with our path to the future.

[Related story: Naglakbay ang Birhen ng Antipolo]

Indeed, we’ve got to move forward but without leaving once more our task of recognizing our beginning and founding past.

Mabuhay ang Taytay at Parokya! 
Viva, Patron San Juan Bautista!
Taytay, Antipolo—pueblos amante de Maria!


First posted: June 11, 2017
Current post edited





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