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Zarah Dane Tan Professor Felipe De Leon III Art Studies 201 – The Image of the Filipino in the Arts

Fiestas were a part of my life as a child but it has never been the center of our family’s universe. Sure, we join in the festivities but only when we can. We do not feel obligated to take part in any of its activities or feel the need to set aside a day for it. As I grew up, I found that some of my classmates and friends feel that it is important and some, like my family, do not. I did not feel any pressure to change my ways until I got married to someone who did. According to Aquino, “[e]very town and city in the Philippines has a fiesta of its own; whatever time of the year it is, there's sure to be a fiesta going on somewhere” (Philippines Fiestas - Fiestas in the Philippines). The word itself is Spanish, so can it be considered part of Filipino culture or Spanish? Aquino states that: “[t]he roots of Philippine fiestas go back even further - back to before the Spanish conquistadores arrived in the 1500s. In the old animistic culture, regular ritual offerings were made to placate the gods, and these offerings evolved into the fiestas we know today. A wonderful fiesta season means good luck for the rest of the year” (Philippines Fiestas - Fiestas in the Philippines).

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Is origin enough to settle the question of how Filipino the fiesta is? Perhaps, and it will be beneficial for us as a people to have this information backed by solid research. It is important to settle this question of “Filipino-ness” as these events are prevalent and widespread in the country. This paper aims to answer the question: Does the Tanza fiesta reflect Filipino culture? To answer this question, this paper will examine the Tanza fiesta under the lens of our class discussions and readings in Art Studies 201. The following characteristics are believed to be the most pertinent to the Tanza fiesta. 1. Love for connections, especially to people 2. Togetherness is happiness 3. My space is your space 4. Expressiveness: Maximalism 5. Religiosity 6. Highly participatory 7. Providing choices 8. Creative improvisation We will first describe in detail the Tanza fiesta then cite concrete examples from it illustrating the eight aforementioned characteristics of Filipino culture. If we are able to illustrate at least half of these characteristics, we may conclude that the Tanza fiesta indeed reflects Filipino culture.

It is held during the feast day of its patron Saint Augustine every 28th of August and continuing on to the next day. In Taguig. only his mother’s side relatives do. Fiestas in the Philippines are held to celebrate the feast day of a patron saint (Aquino). Cavite (see Figure 1). Fast forward to 2006 to my first Tanza fiesta. The fiesta in Tanza is no different in this aspect from other fiestas in the country. We may consider Taguig to be more provincial because Mandaluyong started building malls and other more modern facilities earlier than Taguig.Tan 3 This paper is limited to the analysis of the Tanza fiesta only as the author experienced it. my husband has always invited me and our common friends to their fiesta in Tanza. Looking back. THE TANZA FIESTA IN DETAIL Even before we got married. Cavite which is a bit weird because he does not live there. I was able to experience the fiesta fluvial parade once or twice. Although the author aims for objectivity. . This passive watching of pagodas came to define for me what the fiesta is. Saint Augustine’s statue graces the plaza in front of the Holy Cross Church in Barangay Poblacion I in Tanza. some subjectivity cannot be avoided since the analysis will be based from her own experience. I have not been exposed very much to fiestas in the provinces mainly because we do not have a province. my mother’s family is from Mandaluyong and my father’s is from Taguig. Needless to say. it can even be considered as culture shock. I was in for a surprise.

5) the evening procession. 6) the palma. 4) the tiangges. Cavite (Juedral) . These will all be described in detail. Figure 2 shows its façade.Tan 4 Figure 1: Saint Augustine's Statue in front of the Holy Cross Church (FVelasquez) The religious nature of the festivities means that all activities are centered around the Holy Cross Church. Tanza. These activities include 1) the Mass. 2) the karakol. Figure 2: The Holy Cross Church in Barangay Poblacion I. 3) the marching band competitions. and 7) the toro.

3) the marching band competitions. .Tan 5 Saint Augustine is lovingly called Tata Usteng by the residents. 4) the tiangges. What is surprising is that even guests who were not invited can expect the same welcome with just the greeting “Nakikipiyesta po!” The fiesta guest may partake in any of the activities proposed during the two-day event. An example of these is in Figure 3. and 7) the toro. This is no surprise as this is the same custom anywhere in the Philippines where you are a houseguest. This is evidenced by the many streamers put up during the fiesta. using the –eng diminutive of the Tagalog language. s/he is welcomed warmly and pushed to eat. 5) the evening procession. these are 1) the Mass. These are described below. 6) the palma. 2) the karakol. Figure 3: Tata Usteng Streamer (Alas) As soon as an invited guest arrives in a Tanza home during the fiesta. As stated above.

This is important for the residents as evidenced by the crowd during these masses (see Figure 4). This is a procession of a statue of Saint Augustine carried by a group of dancing devotees. the mass is celebrated every hour in the Holy Cross Church during the fiesta. Figure 4: Mass in the Holy Cross Church during the Fiesta (Alas) THE KARAKOL The karakol immediately follows the morning High Mass. The screen capture image in Figure 5 unfortunately does not do justice to this merry activity. It is better viewed from the originally uploaded YouTube video where it was taken from. .Tan 6 THE MASS Because it is the feast day of their patron saint.

. one of the groups who competed during the 2012 fiesta (Figure 6).Tan 7 Figure 5: The Karakol (MarK) THE MARCHING BAND COMPETITIONS Held in the afternoon are the marching band competitions where groups from the constituent barangays of Tanza compete. Augustine Band. Below is an image captured from a streaming video of St.

makeshift stores that sell goods from clothing (Figure 7) to religious sculptures (Figure 8) to food (Figure 9). Tiangges are small. .Tan 8 Figure 6: The Saint Augustine Band during the Marching Band Competition (http://downloadfromyoutube.co/) THE TIANGGES Anytime during the two-day fiesta. guests may shop in any of the tiangges around the area.

Tan 9 Figure 7: Tiangge selling clothing (Alas) Figure 8: Tiangge selling religious sculptures (Alas) .

Tan 10 Figure 9: Tiangge selling food (Alas) THE EVENING PROCESSION The statue of Tata Usteng is once again paraded around the town during the evening procession. (See Figure 10) Figure 10: Evening Procession (Ocampo) . This time with more reverence than the morning karakol.

a fireworks display and a release of giant paper lanterns. not as big or grand as what you will see in the city during New Year’s Eve and other celebrations (see Figure 11). Figure 11: Fireworks during the Palma (classy64jas) .Tan 11 THE PALMA The evening procession is followed by the palma. Some of them even measure up to six feet tall and they last into the night (see Figure 12). Spectators may still be able to spot them in the sky after all the festivities are done. The fireworks are average. However. the giant paper lanterns are impressive.

. It seems that the adrenaline rush that accompanies this activity is enough to negate these inconveniences. no one has complained about these dangers. It is very crowded and scary considering the fact that one can get trampled upon during the chase as well as get sparked on by the fireworks. during all the toros the author participated in. giant papier-mâché figures with fireworks attached to them chase fiesta participants around the town plaza (see Figure 13). However. During the toro.Tan 12 Figure 12: Lanterns during the Palma (clumsygeek09) THE TORO Another activity held in the evening is the toro which some residents deem to be the highlight of the fiesta.

especially to people 2. Providing choices 8. Creative improvisation . Jr. Religiosity 6. Togetherness is happiness 3.Tan 13 Figure 13: The Toro (clumsygeek09) HOW FILIPINO THE TANZA FIESTA IS The eight characteristics of Filipino culture used for the analysis of the Tanza fiesta are from the presentation Understanding the Filipino by Prof. Highly participatory 7. These characteristics are: 1. Love for connections. Expressiveness: Maximalism 5. My space is your space 4. Felipe De Leon.

the participants may go alone. camera clicks are non-stop. therefore. No one eats alone during the Tanza fiesta. TOGETHERNESS IS HAPPINESS Several markers for this characteristic are mentioned in Prof. Filipinos hardly eat alone. it illustrates the characteristic Togetherness is happiness. De Leon. guests and hosts. We may therefore conclude that this characteristic is present in the Tanza fiesta. It is literally a feast because of the food served. Eating is communal and seating is wherever available. this does not mean that they forgo conversation. The Tanza fiesta is a religious celebration teeming with opportunities to socialize. the merrier” applies to the Tanza fiesta. The principle “the more. The following markers are illustrated by examples from the Tanza fiesta. Although for most events. De Leon’s Understanding the Filipino presentation. the handaan is one of the integral parts of the Tanza fiesta. . you are welcome to bring as many guests as you like. Although not identified as an event in this paper. During the two-day fiesta. 1.Tan 14 LOVE FOR CONNECTIONS. participants. Picture-taking mania. “[Filipinos] are [a]mong the most highly relational in the world” (Understanding the Filipino). Many more are taken to have pictures that include the picture-taker. Invite a person to your party. 3. 2. not one is done individually. In all seven events mentioned in The Tanza Fiesta in detail. Pictures are taken of all events. how many will come? Invitation to the Tanza fiesta is optional but if you do receive an invitation. ESPECIALLY TO PEOPLE Quoting from the presentation of Prof.

there are prizes for all the groups that participated. Prizes for everybody. 5. Hosts are very insistent in this even pushing and pressing the wrapped goodies to a guest’s hand. MY SPACE IS YOUR SPACE According to the Prof. Pabalot. guests are allowed to move around only within the confines of the living room. The common Filipino is a maximalist. as a relative by association. the marching band competition. she believes that it is safe to say that this will be the same practice. De Leon’s presentation. Therefore the characteristic My space is your space is pertinent to the Tanza fiesta. There are major prizes for the top three and consolation prizes for all the marching bands. Aside from partaking in the food feast. only the entire first floor is open to guests. (Understanding the Filipino) In the De Vega ancestral house. guests may roam anywhere inside or outside the house. EXPRESSIVENESS: MAXIMALISM According to the Prof. the author cannot verify this for the other houses. guests are also enjoined to take home some of the food. the author has been allowed to stay in the bedrooms and was allowed to stay there however long she wanted. However. Although. filling up every available space with forms and things. De Leon’s presentation. In Filipino culture. It springs from an expressive exuberance deeply rooted in emotional sensitivity and the strong urge to connect. even in the bedrooms. In most Western cultures. For one of the events. (Understanding the Filipino) .Tan 15 4.

In Filipino society. rosaries and sculptures (See Figure 8: Tiangge selling religious sculptures. Almost every available space on the streets is filled with tiangges. Moreover. two are exemplified by the events karakol and toro. the decoration on Saint Augustine’s statue which was overflowing with flowers was definitely not minimalist. this characteristic is exuded by the Tanza fiesta. score highest in emphasis on religion and religious beliefs (1979 Gallup Survey). (Understanding the Filipino) Obviously. everybody is a participant/performer. In the houses. there was not an empty space. HIGHLY PARTICIPATORY Of the seven markers of the characteristic Highly participatory mentioned by Prof. 1. 1991 and 1995-96 surveys confirm Filipino religiosity as highest in the world. participants were tightly-packed (e. there were times that they were filled to bursting with guests. On the buffet table. De Leon in Understanding the Filipino. you will find many religious articles like scapulars. Filipinos. followed by Indians and Brazilians. In almost all of the events. All the events are held in honor of the patron saint even in the most seemingly pagan toro. even in the commercial endeavor of tiangge. De Leon’s presentation.Tan 16 If crowdedness may be deemed as a form of maximalism. the Tanza fiesta exemplifies this trait because it is by definition a religious celebration. Finally. .g. RELIGIOSITY According to the Prof. Figure 4: Mass in the Holy Cross Church during the Fiesta .

Creative spontaneity is highly valued. (Understanding the Filipino) The karakol follows a beat for dancing but participants do not follow rigid steps. since food is served buffet style. De Leon’s presentation. and to be an active participant or a mere spectator. tultul. balitaw. Everyone is a participant. . The only constraint is that guests may not refuse to eat. Nobody is a mere spectator. Extemporaneous or on-the-spot creativity comes very naturally to the Filipino who has the finest artistic yet improvisatory traditions such as the duplo. There is no separation of performer/creator and audience/spectator. there are no spectators. For the toro. one can also choose to participate or not. PROVIDING CHOICES On the macro level. choices are provided in the Tanza fiesta with the events available to guests.Tan 17 2. this event exemplifies creative improvisation. CREATIVE IMPROVISATION According to the Prof. balagtasan. During the karakol. the food offered to guests is a literal feast. Moreover. it is also up to the guests how much food to get. Aside from choosing the event. kuntao and okir. On the micro level. Because of this. all participants dance and spectators are encouraged to join. Guests are spoiled for choice on the buffet table from the entrées to the desserts. kulintang.

Almost all spaces are taken in all the events. Guests are welcome to roam around the entire first floor of the house. Expressiveness: Maximalism. 3. and pabalot is offered to all guests. there are prizes for all of the participants in a competition. Another example is the decoration on Saint Augustine’s float which is bedecked with flowers. guests may or may not be expressly invited and they may bring other guests. Togetherness is happiness. Doing these entails creative spontaneity. Nobody eats alone during the fiesta. My space is your space. especially to people.Tan 18 The giant papier-mâché figures used in the toro are not made using a pattern and thus also embody this same characteristic. lots of pictures are taken to include everybody. 4. 2. the people moving these giant figures do not have a set path and so have to be attentive to each others’ moves and at the same time be careful not to hurt any participants/spectators even if aiming to surprise them. All seven events are done communally. CONCLUSION As demonstrated in this paper. To summarize: 1. Love for connections. Moreover. the Tanza fiesta reflects the Filipino culture because it embodies all of its eight characteristics. It is crowded everywhere. .

In the karakol and the toro. . everyone participates and no one is a mere spectator. The fiesta itself is a religious celebration. all the events in it are offered to the patron saint even the most non-religious parts: the toro and the tiangges (where religious articles are sold). The same can be said for the design of the giant papier-mâché figures because they are created on the fly without any resort to patterns. The karakol and the toro entails creative spontaneity because they are not rehearsed and do not follow a pattern. 7. Providing choices. Moreover.Tan 19 5. Highly participatory. Creative improvisation. Religiosity. 6. 8. Choices are provided with the events available as well as with the food.

Cavite (Juedral) Figure 3: Tata Usteng Streamer (Alas) Figure 4: Mass in the Holy Cross Church during the Fiesta (Alas) Figure 5: The Karakol (MarK) Figure 6: The Saint Augustine Band during the Marching Band Competition (http://downloadfromyoutube. Tanza.Tan 20 TABLE OF FIGURES Figure 1: Saint Augustine's Statue in front of the Holy Cross Church (FVelasquez) Figure 2: The Holy Cross Church in Barangay Poblacion I.co/) Figure 7: Tiangge selling clothing (Alas) Figure 8: Tiangge selling religious sculptures (Alas) Figure 9: Tiangge selling food (Alas) Figure 10: Evening Procession (Ocampo) Figure 11: Fireworks during the Palma (classy64jas) Figure 12: Lanterns during the Palma (clumsygeek09) Figure 13: The Toro (clumsygeek09) 8 9 9 10 10 11 12 13 4 4 5 6 7 .

" Rubin. 1 September 2013. YouTube. 12 June 2013.Fiestas in the Philippines. 23 May 2012.com/od/eventsfest5/a/phil_fiestas. Powerpoint Presentation. Mga pagdiriwang sa Pilipinas : Pasko. Alas. Ramon. Tiamson. http://downloadfromyoutube. 12 June 2013. YouTube. . 12 June 2013. Jpeg. Felipe M. 12 June 2013. Quezon City: MMA Publications. Wikimedia Commons. Wikipedia.Tan 21 WORKS CITED Aguinaldo. 2012. 16 September 2012. Ocampo. clumsygeek09. Aquino. Understanding the Filipino. Streaming Video. Streaming Video. Streaming Video. . MarK. Juedral. YouTube. Pepe. Streaming Video. Paano nagsusulat and isang ina. Streaming Video. 2002. 17 August 2007. Bagong Taon. Manila: UST Publishing House. Milagros M. FVelasquez. Photo. 89-96. classy64jas. 29 August 2011. "Mula pista ni San Isidro sa Ballacayu hanggang sa Lantern Parade sa Diliman. AxL.htm>. Facebook. 12 June 2013. Jpeg. Piyesta. Ligaya G. 12 June 2013. Rubin. Jr.. 12 June 2013. 30 August 2012.co/. 28 August 2011. Michael.about. at atbp. <http://goseasia. Rhap. Tiamson. Ligaya G. Philippines Fiestas . De Leon. 2003. 10 September 2012. Quezon City. YouTube. 12 June 2013. 30 June 2010. 22 May 2013.

"Mga pista bilang salamin ng Kulturang Pilipino." University of the Philippines Asian Institute of Tourism Conference on Tourism and Hospitality.Tan 22 UP Asian Institute of Tourism. 1-192. . Tourism 126 Class. Marikina: UP Asian Institute of Tourism. 2009.

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