It’s ironic, therefore, that those who look back with such reverence to our pre-Hispanic culture should be the loudiest sneerers at Christianity in the Philippines as being mere folk Catholicism, or superstition. They mourn for being lost what they attack for surviving. When they decry the town fiesta they are decrying the old pagan harvest festival, which, as may be observed in the highlands of the North, also entailed open doors, loaded tables and a lot of conspicuous consumption. –Nick Joaquín, IKON, FRIAR AND CONQUISTADOR
We woke up this morning to the tune of marching bands and jolly voices. Outside our apartment, San Vicente Road is filled with vehicular and human traffic caused by today’s festivities. Our barrio (or barangáy) is celebrating the feast day of its namesake and patron, Saint Vincent Ferrer of Valencia, Spain.
Barrio San Vicente is the second largest barrio/barangáy in the Municipality of San Pedro Tunasán, La Laguna (the largest being Barrio San Antonio). San Vicente covers an area of around 665 hectares. But in terms of population, it is the town’s largest: it has more or less 97,000 residents. San Vicente also has a few plantations dedicated to mangoes and sinigüelas. Many residents here also raise fowl and cattle. There are also a few remaining sampaguita backyard farms which made San Pedro the Sampaguita Capital of the Philippines.
Capilla de San Vicente Ferrer
According to a brass marker, the current site of this chapel was donated by the Oliver Family in 1902. The chapel was then made of wooden materials and was only used during Holy Week and the town fiesta. The chapel got burned down in a fire accident, and was rebuilt in 1965. The current church was designed by Architect Isidro Pili; it is now made of stone and adobe and is actually quite large for a chapel. Since then, even Flores de Mayo festivities were held there, as well as Anticipated Masses (or Saturday night Mass) administered by Santo Sepulcro Parish Administrator Msgr. Jerry V. Bitoon.
Saint Vincent Ferrer
He was a Spanish Dominican missionary from the Kingdom of Valencia. Saint Vincent was born on 23 January 1350. He entered the Dominican Order during his late teens where he studied philosophy and theology. There he lived the life of a hermit, reading nothing but Sacred Scripture (which he eventually memorized!). As a philosopher, he published a treatise on Dialectic Suppositions after his solemn profession. He then became a Master of Sacred Theology. He was then sent to Barcelona and eventually to the University of Lleida (Catalonia, Spain) where he earned his doctorate in theology.
Later in life, he traveled to different parts of Europe preaching the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ and converting many people into Christianity. Many attested that the Lord God blessed him with the gift of tongues.
Vincent Ferrer died on 5 April 1419. Since then, that date has become his feast day (and that is why our barrio is full of merriment today). More than three decades after his death in Brittany, France, Ferrer was canonized by Pope Calixtus III.