Saturday, December 25, 2010

Maytinis Festival @ Kawit, Cavite

Kawit, a historical town in Cavite, (Philippines) takes pride of its highly Hispanized culture and traditions. One of which is the "Maytinis"- a town-wide religious event held every 24th December assaying the Nativity of the Virgin Mary.

About a dozen floats depicting several Biblical characters gather in a procession which usually starts at 8:00 in the evening. These extravagantly adorned platforms are manned by men and women symbolically clad in wardrobes typifying the likes of Adam and Eve, David and Goliath, Moses, etc. to name a few.

It's actually a montage of several religious characters found in the Bible with Holy Couple as the major attraction. A chosen pair of young man and woman is lodged on a float, believed to be Joseph and Mary, re-enacting their seemingly futile efforts of finding a shelter in Bethlehem. The selected couple who are melodious singers, chant some biblical verses/passages, seeking refuge from different homeowners and in retaliation being bombarded with sarcastic remarks, denying them entry into their houses. Several attempts are usually done leading the entire entourage to the Parish Church where a makeshift stable called "BELEN" awaits the Holy Couple. This climatic event's celebrated by several priests in a gleeful, music-filled church ceremony. The altar has been creatively transformed into a cave adorned with lights and life-sized statues resembling the manger where Jesus Christ was born.

At the strike of 12 midnight, the High Mass starts commemorating the Nativity. The whole scenario focuses on the birth of Baby Jesus Christ. A vibrant choir fills the air with songs through the accompaniment of the tambourines and drums, heralding the commencement of Christmas Day. A cherubic image of Baby Jesus Christ is presented to the church-goers, queues of people flock the altar to kiss His image. This is a once-in-a year chance of communing with Baby Jesus.

This rich cultural heritage has been handed down centuries ago and is still annually practiced in this town. A truly concerted effort presented by the Kawite├▒os which is worth witnessing.


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