My first blog here is the story of Lolo Awing. Actually it was lifted from my personal website, Yagting Cultural Heritage Collections - now offline.
From now on my blogs here will deal with Romblon culture in general and Banton in particular.
During the early years of RDL (Romblon Discussion List) most of my posts were about Banton culture. It was my desire to share with every Romblomanons the culture, beliefs and traditions of my island with the hope that they share what we have in common too. However very few responded to my call.
I may not be the right person to write about the culture of my island. My stay there was less than 20 years - all during my school days, elementary to high school and some vacations.
But before other things let me first share to the readers what I wrote in my first formal theme in elementary. This was the theme my teacher gave to us.
"Where did you spend your vacation."
In my formal theme I wrote something like this.
"Last summer I spent my vacation in the farm. I helped my parents clear the fields of grass, weeds and shrubs. I planted rice, corn, root crops - cassava, singapor, kinusoy and ube. Every Sunday I attended mass; in the afternoon I went swimming. I gathered sea-shells and caught fish. I used coconut shell in catching fish. There were beautiful corals and beautiful fishes. Sometimes I stayed with my grandmother in Guyangan. I roamed the hills with my slingshot and hunted 'nayo' (wild pigeon?). Sometimes I used 'yagpit' (bird trap) to catch birds.
I gathered firewood and dried them under the sun. We will use the firewood these school days."
See, it was not a vacation but work in the farm. If some of my classmates wrote about their vacation spent in Manila, a walk in Luneta Park and watching movies, my time was spent with the farmers, fisherfolks and the less educated ones - all of them - keepers of our tradition, beliefs and culture.
Why I are farmers, fisherfolks and the less educated ones keepers of our culture? That question deserves another blog - coming soon.!!
From the farmers I learned to plant, to harvest, and the proper time to weed. From the fisherfolks the art of making fish trap, spear-fishing, hook-and-line, organic fish intoxication - tobacco, gatasan, tubli, yagtang.
During my childhood days the games we played were all traditional games - bagoy, isiw-isiwan, tubigan, biko, bingkoy, hudop, payupok, pagudor and many other common games. Now, computer games are "in" and these traditional games appear to be endangered.
I can say I am lucky to live in both 'worlds' of Banton: "Cultural Banton and Modern Banton." The cultural days were when electricity, TV, ref, computers and modern communication are still a dream. In high school I was blessed to have a grandmother and a great grandfather. From them I learned stories of old. As a child, I was with my aunts attending the traditonal Flores de Mayo, and sinabaduhan; from May to December, andd other festivities.
Cultural Banton observed the six-oclock habit religiously. At 6.00pm upon ringing of bells children young and old prayed the Angelus. Children kissed the hands of the priest when they met them in the street. During Holy week, dancing and playing the guitar were taboo.
Then electricity came... "Cultural Banton" faded. Ringing of bells are now drowned by karaoke; traditional games are replaced with Gameboy, Super Mario, Tetris and the like. Basketball has become the main entertainment at the covered court.
Scouting during my elementary was very challenging. We were taught the basics for survival. Unlike today that all are instant and disposables - tent, stove, mineral water, instant noodles, cellphones, global positioning device.
Camps/tents of yesterday's scouting were built from materials available near the camp site. We were taught how to make surilap/pinawor - thatch roofs; how to split bamboos, build fire, cook in bamboo, rope knot. These days you can see them in TV documentaries done by the Aetas of Zambales. Light signals, wig-wag, semaphore, trail marks, rope bridge - are these still part of urban scouting?
I was at my age of innocence during the waning days of Cultural Banton. I admit I did not experience some of them. I did not travel by pasahe/lanson - all wind powered - by sail. Our senior citizens have much more to share. I invite you to share your cultural past. I invite all Romblomanons to blog their cultural heritage.