The culture of food : food and culture merge in Bulusan’s Candelaria. Above photo shows a local boy with his mamon ready to be blessed in the town’s Parish church, February, 2, 2014.
Our mamon ready for the blessing proper.
No need to queue. The priest goes around the church corner to corner blessing the items (mamon, assorted bread, candles and religious images) with Holy water as he passes by.
Little girls with their candles ready for blessing.
The presence of many children in this Candelaria mass attest to the popularity of this celebration in Bulusan.
Candles for blessing come in all sizes but usually colored with the traditional white and yellow.
These mamon carry the same features of the traditional mamon.
Holy water dip to make the sign of the cross is customarily done before and after the mass.
Tricycle with mamon box backload.
Candeleria’s mamon in a blue basket for this senior.
Jomabel, Oya Lilia and Oya Mila in a street in Poblacion Central. We live in this block.
Neighbors, Oya Lilia and Oya Mila with their respective mamon boxes.
Kids of Bulusans are lovable even when grumpy like this one.
The day is a family event for these local parishioners. Notice the little boy looking at me (bottom left of photo).
Santo Niño in full regalia for blessing too.
“Oh, you have taken my picture?”
Lighted candles and open boxes of mamon signal that the time for the blessing rites is about to begin. The priest then says his benediction and sprinkles the Holy water throughout the crowd.
A village resident brought along an image of the Holy Family for blessing.
Jomabel, our house assistant, with two containers full of blessed mamon.
Blessed mamon in plastic containers and candles for my neighbors, Oya Mila and Oya Lilia (extreme left in the photo) from Central.
Bonding time. Kids love to bring the mamon for blessing with mom.
This pretty little girl is happy with her mamon and spontaneously poses for this photo.
More sakristan (altar boys) than the regular mass for the Calendaria celebration.
Jomabel with a local parishioner from the Poblacion.
Right in front where I was standing is this kind of bread or steamed cake that differs from the rest.
Two white candles and one box full of mamon for this local boy.
A local boy waits near the entrance door with his mamon.
Some parishioners brought not just one but two or more candles each.
The priest (center in white robe) blessing the candles, mamon and other items brought by the parishioners to the church.
Assorted baskets with blessed mamon and assorted bread are taken back home after the mass.
Jomabel with containers full of mamon off to church for the Candelaria mass.
No queue needed. The priest gives his blessing by immersing himself with the crowd.
Contented faces and container sealed after the final blessing rites of the mamon and candles are completed.
Jomabel with the mamon she and my sister-in-law prepared a day earlier.
Brother and sister wait for the mass to begin at the entrance of the church.
Going to church is a major activity for most of the seniors in Bulusan.
Utility recycled plastic biscuit boxes are the most common mamon/bread containers for this event.
Traditional colored candles for blessing.
Mamon makes this boy smile.
Street view of parishioners after the mass.
Like many other Catholic celebrations, the influence of the local culture and its Catholic beliefs fused to create an original form of event. In Bulusan, the locals take on the Candelaria celebration is bread themed. Hence, the mamon. Other kinds of bread are also present during the priest’s blessing of the candles and some religious images but the mamon rules as captured by these photos of this morning’s Candelaria mass.
The Feast of the Candelaria, February 2, is actually a continuation of Christmas. Count forty days from the birth of Jesus (Christmas day) and the child Jesus must now be brought to the temple for presentation as tradition dictates. As explained by the celebrating priest in this Sunday’s morning mass, the Candelaria celebration is to commemorate the “Presentation of Christ at the Temple”.
Candles also are very much in the picture because this event is also in honor of the Feast of Purification of the Virgin Mary with the Philippines Nuestra Senora de Candelaria’s Feast being celebrated on the same date. Significantly, the candles symbolize the inner light of Christ being shared with the world.
The mamon, assorted bread, candles and religious images will be brought back to the respective homes of the faithfuls after the mass and the priest’s blessings for these items are finished. The candles according to the priest can be used as altar light or vigil light during prayers at home. The bread must be savored to the last crumb because it has been blessed with holy water – ‘benditado’ in the local dialect. It has been bestowed with ‘holiness’ comparable to the host partaken during mass celebrations.
Enjoy your mamon! A short Our Father prayer is said before devouring the treat is a must at home with my siblings during our childhood Candelarias. We however and most Bulusanons simply refer to this Catholic feast as ‘Tagmaramonan’.
Bulusan traditional mamon: the texture – full and fluffy but not airy. The taste – perfect balance of sweetness and rich flavor from the egg that does not overpower but will keep you yearning for more. A classic from the simplest baking recipe there is.
Photos: Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon, February 2, 2014
Recommended related reads for Bulusanons: