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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Philippine Foodventure pt. 2 - San Rafael Fiesta

The San Rafael Fiesta. It really is a year round celebration leading up to the feast day of Saint Rafael. Each year there are 3 sponsors. It just so happens this year my mom was one of them. The statue of San Rafael spends six months at the home of each sponsor. 18 days before the fiesta each sponsor holds a 6 day novena taking turns leading up to the feast day of the saint. Since my mom couldn't be there for her turn, my aunt was the gracious representative for her. The fiesta itself is always held every May 24, no matter what day of the week it falls on. There are several over celebrations during the year, this is one of the larger ones.

Sunday. The day before the fiesta. My mom and I attend Sunday mass. St. Bartholomew Church.

It's a beautiful old church that built in the 15th Century. So much history connected with it. It is location next to one of the busiest places in town. The Market. Sundays are always market days. I'll show you the market in a later post. For most of the day, I was busy helping arrange some sampaguitas (Philippine national flower) onto arrangements.

Preparations for the San Rafael Fiesta are fully underway to get the final details out of the way. Fresh meats being chopped away. It would be a sleepless night for several people. Myself included.

Helping prepare cut up some of the veggies that will be cooked. I love how my family comes together to help. It's really an big undertaking to put is all together.

Each of the sponsors is responsible to cooking up a lot of food that will be distributed to the people in the town. So there was plenty of cooking done the night before and on the day of.

After several hours of cooking -- cooked chicken and pork for pastel (the dish is only half done)
 That big bowl will feed up to close to 1000 people when it's all finished.

Sahog sa pancit
This is the filling for the pancit. All that's missing is the noodles.

Aside from all the food preparations, there's also a fun hip-hop dance competition. 
Just a little pre-fiesta celebration.

Nearly filled up this outdoor gym

The following morning. The brass band makes their round playing their song loudly signifying that it's the day of the fiesta. With hardly any sleep that was my alarm clock at 7am because they were playing outside my window. I don't have a picture of the band during the day as I was so tired from the night before.

The kubol

The final prayers are said at the kubol (meaning shelter) Each year the kubol is held in different locations around town. This year it was held up the town near city hall. Not too far from my aunt's house. During this time all the foods is being prepared to be served. All the hard work and effort are coming down to the wire.

Tricycle -- you'll find many of these around town. All over the country basically. Just like Jeepneys are like the Metro buses, think of these as little taxi cabs for roughly P10 ($0.20) per person, per destination within the town.

My cousin and I return to my Aunt's house where the food is already being served. Each sponsor serves up their dishes in their own home and the townspeople go to each to get a plateful to take with them.

View from behind the line. Luckily, my older cousin was pretty good in making sure 
there was order instead of mayhem, while my aunt's served up the food. Did I mention it was dreadfully hot?

Must have the rice! Each plate got a nice serving of rice with a scoop of the additional dishes.

A steady stream of people going in and out through the main gate. All holding a plateful of food. Children making multiple trips to bring food for their family. It was a steady stream to the point where we had to put a sign saying that we ran out of food. Yet, people still kept coming. It was a success.

What was served from bottom up: caldereta, pancit bihon, pork asado, chicken pastel, embutido

The nice thing about being one of the sponsors this year is that we get to eat at the back of the house. Away from the craziness, but then the back was overflowing with people, too. -- ie family and close aquaintances.

Oh thing we had just for those at the back. The delicious roasted lechon!!!!! Yum!! Anthony Bourdain did say the Philippines did have some of the best roast pig around. Though, I'm far from Cebu where he had his, this is local and is the best in my book.

Porky goodness on a plate!! Especially with the still steaming crispy skin!!
-- I didn't eat that whole plate myself. My uncle and cousin shared with me.
As much as I love pork, I can't that much in one sitting. hahaha...

One of the upsides of this celebration was being able to see all my immediate family together under one roof. Spending time with them having a good time. It's a rare thing to happen and no one can ever be sure if it would happen again. So we made the most of it with lots of laughter.

Later in the evening, the procession began. The statue of St. Rafael adorned with the many sampaguitas that I helped out together. The procession would take close to an hour. Walking around the main roads. Behind the statue were those praying and singing the final novena.

Close behind them were the reynas (princesses) in their dresses with their escorts. walking under arches being held by some children of the down. The streets lined with people to see the procession. It was a long walk in the somewhat cool yet, humid evening.

The band that woke me up in the morning still loudly playing into the evening.

After the procession, people returned to their homes. The statue of St. Rafael is brought to the home of the next sponsor and the town waits another year once again.

Back at our house for a post-fiesta gathering, many had come to have a late meal. We still had enough of the food from earlier in the day, so we served the rest of that along with for dessert.

Cheese Ice cream -- there are literally pieces of cheese in it and stored in late metal containers. Some may call this "Dirty" Ice cream. It's because of the environment it's made in. Compared to factory creameries, these are locally handmade. But it's dang good!!!!

All gone!!! People ate that right up. Luckily, I was able to get me some before 
everyone else devoured it like vultures. I literally saw crowd the thing...and poof no more ice cream.

Overall it was a great experience. I had been to the fiesta before a couple years ago. And it feels like each time I learn something new, meet new people and see those I haven't seen in a long time. It always great to experience celebrations that are a part of my culture. It sort of bring a better understand of where I come from.

Come back tomorrow for part 3 :)


Tangled Noodle said...

Amazing look into a Filipino festival, especially when you and your family were so directly involved and were an integral part of the San Rafael Fiesta!

The Philippines has so many incredibly colorful and vivid celebrations! My dream is to attend the Moriones Festival in my mom's hometown of Mogpog, where it originated, but I also remember how, as a little girl, I desperately wanted to be a Flores de Mayo princess (never happened). Now, I'll be happy just to witness it in person.

Great post and I would gladly line up for a plateful of the feast that you and your family prepared. 8-)

Dewi said...

Wow, what a celebration Jenn, food look amazing too. I remember when Anthony when there, and eat the delicious roasted lechon. Looks mouth watering indeed.

Nutmeg Nanny said...

I could not imagine cooking a dish that would feed up to 1000 people. I'm lucky if I can manage to make dinner for my boyfriend and I some nights...haha. That ice cream sounds really interesting too. I will have to read up on that. Oh and finally. That picture of the roasted pig has my mouth watering. There is no denying that I'm a carnivore :)

tinyskillet said...

What a great time with friends and family! That's nice seeing everyone pitches in to help. A lot of good food being served too! I love a good pig roast! Everything looks so good. Looking forward to #3!

vanillasugarblog said...

what does the cheese ice cream taste like? savory like?

chow and chatter said...

oh wow what a fun evening and man thats work to cook all the food you need a holiday after that one love it

Unknown said...

What a fun adventure. If there is food and fun I am totally there daaaaahling.

Heather S-G said...

This is so awesome! Informative and enticing =) I love being able to get a glimpse into your culture and seeing all the preparation. I don't think there's anything in the US like this (although, I could be wrong...happens often). But it is something that happens in other countries/cultures on a regular basis. I've "seen" lots of festivals of the sort in Mexico, as well. And your national flower is so cool... Thanks so much for sharing this with us!!! Love adding to my armchair travels ;)

Reeni said...

This is amazing Jenn! How cool that your Mom was one of the sponsors! And did you get any sleep on this trip? I would need a vacation from the vacation!

OysterCulture said...

What a fantastic write up on a special event. It looks like a wonderful time, and I cannot even begin to describe how tasty that food looks to me.

online shopping said...

Wow, there's so much worthwhile information here!

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