Halbutan, Agawan, and Dalit in Sariaya

Most people head to Lucban on May 15 for its colorful Pahiyas. Unfortunately, pretty as it is, it’s also overly commercial and crowded. Less flamboyant but with a more local feel is that of Sariaya. Called the Agawan Festival, a bagacay pole is festooned with pabitin such as junk food, small household items, and other stuff. As the image of San Isidro Labrador passes by, people, mostly men, grab (halbot) for these treats.

Because we were on a research trip to document dalit singing, we headed off the beaten track and to the baranggays. The dalit is a religious song sung after the procession.

Rocky Road to Bgy. Gibang
I wasn’t quite sure our van would make it as it slowly made its way over rocks on the way to the last baranggay of Tayabas. The narrow road was so rocky that we were going at less than 5kph. Short stretches of cemented road brought quick relief and evidence that some local politico had made money again. The road was lined with trees, plants, landscaped front yards, and flowers, though, which made up for the discomfort. A few houses had also set-up bagacay poles for the halbutan.

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Finally, we reached a wide open space where the multi-purpose hall was.

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Libutan and Halbutan
San Isidro Labrador is the patron saint of all of Quezon.  He will be led on a procession around the The poon of San Isidro was taken out of its glass case. Prayers were said and the procession started. Led by the poon and a tambol (actually a modern drum), we went from one house to another where the particioants, all male, would grab the pabitin. It was fun to watch.

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We were also served suman and at one house, tamales.

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We only joined the first few houses and opted to wait for the procession to return. The rocky trail was too much for our ankles.

After about an hour, the poon and the drummer returned and were met by two of the nine hermana. Each held a parol and accompanied them to the multi-purpose hall while singing the dalit.

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Back inside, the dalit continued and was later followed by the recitation of five mysteries of the rosary and a mass.

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Children grabbed the treats hanging from the windows and ceiling of the hall.

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A yummy lunch of nilagang baka, asado, and egado was served to everyone present. We finished lunch in a hurry as we had to head back to Sariaya where a jeep was to take us to another baranggay for more dalit.

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