Fiesta time is a joyous occasion for Filipinos. The streets are decorated with banderitas, every house is open to welcome visitors and to serve their best dishes, karaoke and fireworks all throughout the day and street performances accompanied by a drum and lyre band. These are just some of the things we did during fiesta time in my neighborhood last weekend. My barangay or neighborhood celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help every May and this year my family was in charge of making merienda or afternoon snacks for the marching band.
All of us in the family, from my brother to my lola (grandmother) to my tita (aunt) and pinsan(cousin) made the band’s food and drinks. I also helped out in the dinner preparation for the priest since we’re also the one in charge of his dinner after the barangay mass. In the Philippines, we don’t usually live with our parents alone. Aside from the mother and father, a Filipino child usually grows up with his or her aunts, uncles and grandparents.
I think this is the reason why Filipinos are very family-oriented. They put great importance to the family which is in line with World Youth Alliance’s Charter, that the family is the basic unit of society and the first teachers of children for their values formation. I don’t usually get involved in barangay activities but this year’s fiesta made a significant impact on me. Only when I voted in the elections last week did I get the feeling of being somehow connected with my community. For a long time, I isolated myself from the affairs of my barangay due to indifference. I felt that single thread of solidarity, of unity with my family while making that simple act of preparing food for the community. It feels good whenever I get to do something out of kindness to another person, a trait which I got from my parents.
Thinking about it, they raised me well. All of the values that I uphold until now came from the teachings of my parents. It is good that World Youth Alliance made a declaration on the family to emphasize the need for the family to teach their children to be “responsible, to commit, to share, and to love”, which I think my parents did successfully on my brother and me.
The fiesta spirit does not end there. The challenge for me is to extend this spirit to my community and in the future activities of World Youth Alliance Asia-Pacific.
By Andrea Mandinka F. Asistores, an Intern at WYA Asia Pacific office in Manila.