Payág

Payág (Bulusan, 2015)

Payág (Bulusan, 2015)

still strong at 96 to go to the poblacion.

still strong at 96 to go to the poblacion.

The farmer's sons stay with their lola (grandmother).

The farmer’s sons stay with their lola (grandmother).

Payag is the classic native hut in Bulusan. It is a simple yet brilliant vernacular organic architecture by marrying form and function with the local materials available on site.

I was lucky to chance upon an almost finished payag along the road of Kabugawan in the village of San Bernardo. The pantaw, sirong and dapog can be seen from the road and the natural colors of the anahaw roofing and bamboo walls blend well with the surrounding greens of mostly coconut and pili trees.

The tukod of the window was being prepared by the time we passed by the area. The lone window is an awning type with the tukod as the device for opening and closing the single panel window.

“This is for my mother-in-law,” said the farmer cum hut builder pointing to the direction of an elderly woman sitting near a tree in the front yard. “She is 96 years old but still goes to the market in the poblacion” he added.  I stayed for a while sitting near the yard with two kids looking at me with innocent smiles.

When I told the local farmer how neat and cool is the workmanship of the hut… he replied that some passing tourists also said the same thing about the hut several days ago.  He said this with a smile and obviously amused that his hut was being noticed by visitors to their village. Although I stay in the poblacion, I am familiar with the village rural ways. I understood that for this farmer/carpenter, the form was just a consequence of the function.

Photographs by  Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

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Fiesta Album 2 : Fiesta Devotions

Equestrian image of St. James the Greater can be seen at the Parish Church of Bulusan during the fiesta celebrations

Equestrian image of St. James the Greater at the Parish Church of Bulusan during the fiesta celebrations.

Saint James the Greater is the patron saint of Bulusan. It is in his honor that the fiesta is being celebrated annually for the last 380 plus years in Bulusan town. Bulusan is composed of 24 barangays/villages. Each barangay has its own patron saint. Even some sitios (smaller unit than a barangay) have their own patron saints too. For the town fiesta in Bulusan, the barangays of the poblacion are customarily the ones hosting the fiesta of the patron saint.

Traditionally a novena is held before the fiesta. The novenario is the 9-day novena before the feast day of the patron saint. It is during these novena days that the village santos are brought to the parish church.

The gathering of saints is an event in itself– a practice in our town that I always look forward to witness annually. This is the only way I can personally see in one day all the santos/santas from outlying villages. I am from the poblacion and visiting these villages even for a local like me will take some time to complete. Bulusan is composed of coastal and mountain villages. Some outlying villages can only be reached by banca or a long hike.

Saint James the Greater, the Apostle image during the novenario procession in Bulusan.

Saint James the Greater, the Apostle image during the novenario procession in Bulusan.

The religious processions with the saints very much mirror Bulusan’s local village culture. Each individual saint carries a touch of the village and its people.

In sharp contrast with the DLC fiesta morning events and the nighttime revelries during the fiesta nights, these religious activities were sacred and solemn. Prayers and singing of hymns were done late in the afternoon processions after the holy mass for each novena day for nine days ending on the eve of the fiesta.

Afternoon procession after the novenario mass.

Afternoon procession after the novenario mass.

Each village have ancient hymns and prayers to their saint. Hymns vary. The lyrics are in the standard Bicol language. The melody too varies but most of the hymns are plaintive songs in the form of prayers to honor the specific saint.

In the recent fiesta processions, I learned that anyone is welcome in the singing and praying. There was no need to be perfect in the singing. You just follow. Imagine hearing hymns simultaneously rendered in one procession with some parishioners reciting the holy rosaries — the effect surprisingly was not a noisy one but a chant-like prayer. The loudest sound with a blaring speaker was at the end of the procession with the hymns for the patron saint drowning the sound of the other saint’s hymns. The refrain of the song became my mantra during the afternoon processions:

Patron Niamong Santiago,
Kami Ngani Sorogon mo…

Villagers from Capiricohan singing hymns to their saint.

Villagers from Capiricohan singing hymns to their saint.

Late afternoon procession passing along Dapdap road.

Late afternoon procession passing along Dapdap road.

A boy stares into my camera during the procession.

A boy stares into my camera during the procession.

A scene at the procession in Bulusan.

A scene at the procession in Bulusan.

Scene at the church grounds during the pre-fiesta procession.

Scene at the church grounds during the pre-fiesta procession.

Village saints lined the entrance of the parish church for the procession. (Bulusan, July 24, 2015)

Village saints lined the entrance of the parish church for the procession. (Bulusan, July 24, 2015)

Saint James the Greater will always be the major attraction of the Bulusan fiesta with the entourage of around 25 villages saints.
Two carosas for Saint James the Greater were seen in the religious processions: One image as an apostle and another image as a fierce warrior riding in a galloping white horse.

Saint James the Greater in his most identifiable image -- a galloping horse and a sword in the final procession of the fiesta. (Bulusan, July 24, 2015)

Saint James the Greater in his most identifiable image — a galloping horse and a sword in the final procession of the fiesta. (Bulusan, July 24, 2015)

In Bulusan, there exists a persistent folk story that Saint James the Greater, our patron saint, has this miraculous power to deflect even the most powerful force of nature like typhoons and volcanic eruptions. Many versions from time to time update the story but the common gist is this : the patron saint is ever ready to protect and shield Bulusan town from danger of any kind.

patinti (vigil light) for St James the Greater during the feast day and the novena days inside Bulusan's parish church

Patinti (vigil light) for St James the Greater during the feast day and the novena days inside Bulusan’s parish church.

Photographs by Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon
Philippines

Market day mosaic

Saud is how we refer to market day  in our town. Held twice weekly every Saturday and Wednesday at the plaza (public market), these events always have the feel of a weekend market rural style where every kind of merchandise appear from villages and nearby towns and provinces. Some are just plain utilitarian while some are simply kitch. From farm tools to folk remedies on common ailments, condiments, local vegetables and fruits and ukay-ukay (second-hand clothes) are to be found in separate corners of the plaza grounds that occupy the streets fronting the public market.

Here are some of my snaps during  my  two consecutive saud visits.

Photos: Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

Thank you, Saint Anthony

I have already accepted the loss of  my photos when suddenly this afternoon while I was searching for my music file it suddenly appeared in a drive that I have tried checking for a hundred times already but to no avail. It was as if the files were playing a trick on me. My feeling was of surprise and elation. It felt like these gifts of framed time and space captured for the last two years were really meant for me. I am embracing these gifts now.

Thank you to San Antonio, the patron saint of lost articles and the grace of finding them.

SONY DSC

Image of San Antonio from the village of Balite, Bulusan

Photo: Alma P. Gamil

 

Ephemeral

SONY DSC

Moonrise in Bulusan, August 2014

For someone who is a non-techie person like me, attempting to recover lost archives of photos will be like retrieving those photos from the vastness of space. So the moment I realized what happened I checked the ones that remained and one of them is this moonrise photo – a reminder of  the night of the full moon when I summoned the moon for another melancholic shot. It did.

How callous of me to notice its melancholic beauty just now.

Photo: Alma P. Gamil

 

Marvin and his carabao in Odikin’s Pili Grove

“So what is the name of your carabao?” I asked Joseph, Marvin’s father. As an answer he laughed out loud and quipped : “We don’t give names to carabaos here. We don’t have to. It is enough that we take good care of her (the carabao is a she) — with lots of grazing areas to feed on and refreshing swamps and river to cool off.  It is our daily ritual from morning till noon to check on her needs.”

“A great help to my farming chores. The carabao carries the heavy load of copra, pili, banana produce from our farm around a kilometer from here (center of the village). I have a small ricefield to tend to and the carabao does the plowing prior to my planting.”

Mang Joseph is an upland farmer in the village of Odikin also known as Barangay Santa Barbara. Marvin is the youngest in the family. The rests are all grown up eking out a living elsewhere as urban laborers and household helps. Two teenage daughters are currently living with us in the Poblacion with one studying at the local Tesda vocational school in Bulusan.

Four days before Glenda (Typhoon Rammasun) visited the region our province included, I asked Mang Joseph if we could have a photo shoot of their family’s carabao while the weather permits it. It was a clear day and everybody was in a picnic mode. They were actually more amused about my giving attention to their utilitarian carabao as a photo subject and can’t stop giggling at the thought that I will be actually riding their “no name” carabao.

I did. And these beautiful photos of Marvin and his carabao are my souvenirs for that wonderful day!

Note: Pili trees are typhoon-resilient trees. Its buttressed trunks are designed to withstand typhoons that annually visit the region. Century-old pili trees can still be seen around the village of Odikin.

Photos: Alma P. Gamil

Barangay Santa Barbara, Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines, July 12, 2014

A close bond because the carabao is family says his father, Joseph.

A close bond because the carabao is family says his father, Joseph.

Marvin and his carabao dwarfed by the magnificent pili trees of Odikin.

Marvin and his carabao dwarfed by the magnificent pili trees of Odikin.

Marvin demonstrating how easily he can mount on top of the carabao with a 'siya' - a indigenous contraption for a rider to sit on the back of the carabao.

Marvin demonstrating how easily he can mount on top of the carabao with a ‘siya’ – an indigenous contraption for a rider to sit on the back of the carabao.

Marvin and their family's carabao grew up together says his father.

Marvin and their family’s carabao grew up together says his father.

A Pili grove in the village of Odikin in Bulusan provides an imposing backdrop for Marvin and his carabao.

A Pili grove in the village of Odikin in Bulusan provides an imposing backdrop for Marvin and his carabao.

An afternoon in the village

Multi-tasking mother in Barangay Santa Barbara, Bulusan, 2014.

Multi-tasking mother in Barangay Santa Barbara, Bulusan, 2014.

An afternoon in the village

I love stories. This is the reason why I love taking photographs.

“Why not take our photographs while we’re weaving,” says the younger mother when she saw me taking photos of the native Biriran tree at their front yard in Odikin. Of course, I was just too happy to oblige. I knew very well just by looking at the subjects that the photos will result to these interesting vignettes.

Odikin officially referred to as Barangay Santa Barbara is an outlying mountain village located at the lower slopes of Mount Bulusan. It is here where I source most of the Bulusan plant photos.

Photos: Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon

May 1, Labor Day

Agricultural workers, Bulusan, 2014

Farm workers threshing newly harvested rice in Bulusan, 2014

Farm workers threshing newly harvested rice in Bulusan.

Harvesting and post harvesting processes are the easiest stages in rice production. Etched in each grain of rice are the tedious tasks done by farm workers needed to complete the cycle from planting to harvesting. In each grain is a spirit of hard toil.

Agricultural farming is the biggest sector in Bulusan. Fishing is second.

Photo: Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

Oliba up close

Young leaves of oliba with rows of dainty curls at the edges of each frond.

Young leaves of oliba with rows of dainty curls at the edges of each frond.

Oliba is the leaf frond of choice for the celebration of Palm Sunday in Bulusan. Although not technically a palm (it is a cycad), it is the traditional ‘palm’ for the event in our town. Only the matured leaves are harvested for the Palm Sunday’s festivities which is more sustainable than harvesting the young shoots of the true palms.

A closer look on the rows of curls.

A closer look on the rows of curls.

These photos were taken 2 days earlier with the younger leaves of the oliva daintily showing curly rows of leaflets. The curls straighten as it matures into dark green and stiff palm looking leaves. These are gathered for blessings during Palm Sunday.

Zooming in on the cluster of young leaves.

Zooming in on the cluster of young leaves.

Top view of the oliba plant.

Top view of the oliba plant.

Matured leaves on the lower part spread radially from the center of the trunk. Notice the sharp contrast of the texture  of the matured leaves to the young shoots.

Matured leaves on the lower part spread radially from the center of the trunk. Notice the sharp contrast of the texture of the matured leaves to the young shoots.

Cycas revoluta is the scientific name of oliba. More about oliba here:

http://bulusanphotostream.blogspot.com/2013/03/oliba-bulusans-palm-of-choice-for-hosana.html

Photos: Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines