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9 The

Daysof Pe単afrancia


9 The

Daysof Pe単afrancia


About the photographer

L

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9 The

Daysof Pe単afrancia


publisher Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet editor Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet designer Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet photography Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet Copyright Š 2010 by Xxxx XXxx All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without the permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review. First Edition ISBN xxx-xxx-x Set in Joanna MT

Printed in the Philippines by XXx xxx


9 The

Daysof Pe単afrancia Photography by

Xxxx Xxxxx

Text by

Tito Valiente


foreword


The River and the City The river runs softly and darkly through this city. The city lies near where the river flows out into a tiny tributary. In some civilizations, this site makes the city potent and powerful. But who remembers the city and the river? No one.

Who thinks of the river and the city? Never ever. At least for a year.

For the whole year, the city lies quiet. The river more so.

No one travels by it, in the sense of moving from one

place to the other. In the sense, of gathering riches. At its ebb, the river decays. At its rising, it floats out debris. Were it not for the ancient plants whose vines cling to the black soil of the river, there is no life in this liquid. For the whole year, the myths of the Big River falter. For the entire sweep of seasons, the tales of splendor about settlements giving way to fete are not told. Till the 10th month comes, till September descends with its mix of heat and rains. The summer is never really gone now in this month. The dog days continue. Sweltering and sheltering, the month of September cradles us all from rains that fall intense as the promise of this month.

The month assures us of all blessedness.

The month relieves us of doubt.

This month promises beliefs. Through a river darkly that flows through the first nine days.

Through a river that moves unnoticed by the city.

Through our world that does not remember the water.e


Somewhere at the edge of the river,

where the grayness turns a bit to verdant hue is the path that leads to Her Shrine. She lives there. She who is called by the multitude as Mother.

To many She is Love. To the many who kiss her hem, she assuages that sadness. To the many who tugs at her cape like wild-eyed children, she is comfort and contrition.

The name is a prayer and a call. Importuning Her, we are the supplicants, sad at the foot where She once stood before the mighty Symbol of Sorrow.

By tradition, we will invoke Her power and Her piety.

By the wisdom of customs, we will render her days in festive sounds. Through hundred years of reckoning, we will cause Her movement from that Home to another Home. It is then that the time comes that we look at Her site. The swath of Her cape reveals the horizon. The brilliance of Her crown eludes all earthly illusions. The earth spins without any motion. The globe circles and yet eludes all cycles. The infinity is revealed. She stands on, in fact, the rounded, glistening orb of her visual presence.

ThenHerjourneybegins.e


Her journey begins, we always think, with the huge door

being flung open. Out of that dwelling rush and run the wild ones.

We do not deny this appellation. Infieles of old… Cimarrones once more.

We glory at the mystification. We revel at the exotic notion. We turn to look at Her but we see the Sun, now dimming behind the clouds.

We smell the rain. We train our face on the impending storm. We are in this journey although when the evening comes we will have another name for it.

She is borne on the shoulders of believers. Now, the journey, it appears begins in jubilation, but it is also carried in shifting abandon.

Our hearts beat to the pagan rites embedded deep in years and years and years and years of believing… and also not believing. The dog, dead and gone, will be thrown again into the river. “Interminable.”

The dog will swim once more alive back to the shore. “Impossible.” We are all standing at the bank of the old River and watching this dog come up to us.

We are looking at life in the river, where before there Death was.

This new faith makes us shiver and makes us cry. We tremble for meanings but our words crumble at the glorious sight of life after death witnessed.

We are back in the procession, away from the river bank, The very first pigmentation around what we are bearing is fading but not gone.

The journey continues. Now, we call it a sojourn.e


The wayfaring is long. The old cathedral is lighted. The city blazes as well. The plaza groans with the passion of the impending festival. But for those at the roadside – the beads gripped and the utterances getting louder and louder – the lights coming from Her are the only radiance that matter.

The stories of the light vary from one pain to another, from one’s joy to another soul’s satisfaction. A mother cranes her neck and looks at Her. She tells the Lady from her heart about the Love missing in her Home. A father hides the grief in his chest; he shows only his hand wading its way through the flood of devotion. His fingers shake as they feel the tiny blossoms falling off Her feet.

Just those flowers. Nothing more. Nothing really more. Just those petals and his only son will walk again.

Justthosebloomsandtheworldwillbewellagain. As the flood of bearers brush past the air around the younger brother of one who is almost dying, the young man swoons because his prayers are answered.

Let your brother sleep. Let your heart take rest.e


There are many stories

why the Lady has to travel to the middle of the city each year. Through the shadow of histories, we apprehend two places: the old one of more ancient beliefs and the new one, the capital of the new faith. The old site is across the river, the wise men say. Out there, the Naga, the Serpent whose head is crowned and whose mighty swagger marked the magic of the earth, lived.

In the new city, the Shrine of the Lady is magnificently found.

The names changed and interchanged. Something became the element that was tamed. The new faith triumphed in ways that are seen and tested each year. The emotions about the new universe become the source of distress and discernment.

Where do we write ourselves in this new universe?

How do we dance the rituals for this Lady of Great Splendor? How do we pray to Her and Her alone this month of September?

Shallwerantandshout? Shallthefervidbealsofear? Does the crowned Serpent still exist across the River?

Or are we blessed already by this New Divine? Look down upon us. We whisper to Her, with the softness of the garland wrapped around her altar, with the strength of the rope of people carrying her into the city for nine days.

Touch us. We implore. Gaze upon us. We beseech Thee.e


The streets of this old city are cleaned. The stones have been whitewashed.

The lampposts glitter with the brightest of lamps. The inhabitants of this space are dressing up for the festival. We wonder how much of this is faith, and how much is fete?

And yet this is the imperfect faith that makes us strong, the old men and women say. Remember, one mother asks, the time, the city woke up to a Shrine without Her?

And, how one stormy day, She is returned to us with all the bells around the city pealing for her return? For the moment, these things are all forgotten. In its place are memories of grand tables with food and fun.

The revelries spill out into all the nooks and crannies of the city. There are no dark streets and there are no dry throats. The wine spill and leftovers are thrown to dogs and cats. Some of these dirt and surplus go back to that old river of journeying again.

Somehow, in the intervening days of the nine days of prayers, some of us make wishes but do not pray. The nine days, somehow, are just a counting of nine passing days.

The nine nights are, or more of them, marked for the banquet.

The benediction gets suspended; the sacred is hanged to air.

The mundane (or that of the world) takes over. The quotidian (or that of the ordinary and regular)

rules over the heavenly days on earth.e


And yet we are imperfect. Our act of faith more so, or so we believe, or so we assuage ourselves.

And yet this is the faith that brings Her closer to us. But this “imperfect” opens up to stories of devotion, that moment when we give up everything in us.

The same imperfect closing up to tales of trickery and thievery. Like those who bear Her – voyagers and bearers all – we throw our bodily cautions to the wind.

Take away my afflictions. Banish all my dread. Calm all my disquietude.

The body gives up for some but the spirit moves on.

The flesh is frustrated with infirmity. The city exists for that which is measured and seen. A young woman asks: why we do we lose so much in this month of September?

Where are they, thieves and vagrants and opportunists during the nine days? What roles do they play when we lose things and gain anxiety, the young woman persists.

The same young woman remembers her beloved brother.

Weak and losing sight of life,he could not move. The months to him were counted to last and not return, unlike these nine days that would recur and recur.

His legs were giving up so he asked that he be carried with the help of others,so he could witness Her journey,that was also his own. The young woman remembers she too travelled that day from suffering to suspiration,from sadness to overwhelming hope. e


Ifwearetomakequiltsoftheseninedays,whatcanwecreate? The craft of quilting follows rules of what to form. From scraps of textiles and weaves that are about to be discarded, images are conjured and narratives are told. The bright yellow of a triangle becomes the day; the rectangles of cobalt turn into distant mountains.

The spotted and distressed cottons are now people moving about in happiness.

The same young woman who asks about anxieties in September tells me she will add more to this quilt. She will use the greenest of the green rough silk to bring into being the river. She will employ satin to form the Serpent of yore, snaking through the grassy knoll and embankments, and, in the middle, beaten silver and glistening flat stones to enthrone the resplendent Mother.

The quilt will end with threads loosen and frayed at the edges. Like her being that like our being will remain humbly imperfect in this vale of tears.

Among the images, she will place the agonies of the pilgrim, lost in the travel and fooled by mirage and false miracles. We, as viewers, will easily find in the work the hurt and the hopefulness, the bitterness and the beatitude, the rancor and the respite, the troubled heart and that is which is at peace. The quilt of faith, as she calls it, can be turned around and around like the remembrances of prosaic things: the crushed ice that relieved a child of sunstroke, the ferris wheel that first gave us the glimpse of sky when we thought we could touch the dome of the Heavens, the beggars who craved for mercy from hunger, the vendors who sold the medals for that is their way of thanking the miracles of birds gently not stopping to fly, and the skies that will never bid us goodbye.

In that quilt of faith, she will be wrapped by the faith that she thought she would lose with a brother fading away to dying. In that quilt, she will wrap all things we lose and everything we gain when the September of our journey comes.e


The sun has been kind to us,

or so we thought, in the eight or seven days of our festival.

But well into the fifth, we start to long for the rain. We know that water is low in the old river. We see the riverbed and all the dregs, and we agonize about the big boat running aground.

The wise talk about this process: Separation, Initiation, and Return. How can she return if the River cannot bear Her barge and her people? Our remembrances assure us there will be rains. More than the mind, the heart assures everything will be fine. Ordained and ordered. Now, we think of the River. Now we think of her Return to Her home by the River. Even as we know the next September, in that month caught between rain and heat, we shall carry Her again back to the old cathedral, we feel the sting of separation.

There is a palpable sense we are rushing for the journey back so we jostle and clamber for Her tiny image on the orb, and we slow down her departure. The rains come. Usually they come. They fall upon us, cold droplets of ephemera and permanence.

We once more glory in the fact of our devotion, not in the fiction of the fun. The metaphor of the trip continues. We are rowers. We have become unknowingly the guardian of the rivers. ItisonlyHerformthatissmall,becausethetestofthemotherisinthegrandeurofthelovethatcomesfromthehumbledperson.

She glides across the darkening river. We stand on the banks with candles and shouts. We wave our handkerchiefs but we have really placed our hand on our chest and taken our hearts out, unashamedly, as some weep, as some pray, as some cry and chant songs about and for the Mother.

Wise men and wise women tell us: in rituals human beings create a world of phantasm and they are able to talk, negotiate, cajole, caress and face the Divine. She sweeps across the water, taming histories of civilizations and we fling our hands and construct faith and fireworks right there. And right then and there, men and women jump into the river of refuse and claim health amidst the rubbish, wellness against dirt.

It is beyond anyone’s understanding. It is beyond the river that we see. She is coming close to Her home and, we pray the river never dies again. It is Her River. It is our River. e


If she is the Mother that we love, why allow her River to die each year? If She is the Mother of this River, why have we not converted it from the site of the gross and the garbage? But the bells are ringing brightly. The rush and the riot happen again.

Viva la Virgen! Viva la Virgen! Over and over. Interminable. Viva la Virgen! Viva la Virgen! Viva la Virgen! The bells are ringing louder but our chants are ever stronger. They reach deep into the river snaking across histories and civilizations, sweeping for the moment the dirt of changing settlements.

The shouts are clearer than all the memories of losses and gains, thundering over typhoons of human misery and want, reminding us all that loving truly everything about the Mother is part – glorious, glorious part – of our unfinished faith.e


About the book Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Praesent aliquam, justo convallis luctus rutrum, erat nulla fermentum diam, at nonummy quam ante ac quam. Maecenas urna purus, fermentum id, molestie in, commodo porttitor, felis. Nam blandit quam ut lacus. Quisque ornare risus quis ligula. Phasellus tristique purus a augue condimentum adipiscing. Aenean sagittis. Etiam leo pede, rhoncus venenatis, tristique in, vulputate at, odio. Donec et ipsum et sapien vehicula nonummy. Suspendisse potenti. Fusce varius urna id quam. Sed neque mi, varius eget, tincidunt nec, suscipit id, libero. In eget purus. Vestibulum ut nisl. Donec eu mi sed turpis feugiat feugiat. Integer turpis arcu, pellentesque eget, cursus et, fermentum ut, sapien. Fusce metus mi, eleifend sollicitudin, molestie id, varius et, nibh. Donec nec libero.

Nine Days of Peñafrancia  

Nine Days of Peñafrancia

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