R. delos Reyes
E. de Guzman
The Obando Fertility Dance continued until the latter part of the American governance of the Philippines.
However, the fame of the said dance reached many places in the country. Even the National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, mentioned this tradition in his novel, the "Noli Me Tangere".
The political events in Obando did not affect the annual fandango. Despite that Obando and its people were members of the Katipunan (revolutionaries against Spanish colonization of the Philippines), and were involved in the revolt against the Spaniards during 1898, the dance was still performed and pilgrims were continuously going to Obando to express their devotion for at least during the three-day festivities.
It is nice to think the beauty of this tradition being held in Obando during those times. The pilgrim, whom most of them were coming from different provinces by boats and barges with multi-colored decorations, received accommodation from the Obando people and were staying there until the festivities ended. The most common form of payment in exchange of the accommodation and food was through buying the candles being sold by the household.
Perhaps there would never be a better and concrete example than this accommodation being offered by the Obando townsfolk, to show the being hospitable of the Filipinos.
During the height of the Second World War, the church and a big portion of the town had been burned, including the original images of the three patron saints in the altar. The images that can be seen in the altar today are just replicas of the original images. The initiative to produce these replicas was pursued by some families and confraternities.
A few years after the war had ended, the Archbishop of Manila and the incumbent parish priest of Obando prohibited the dancing during the feast as they were allegedly without Catholic background. In other words, they speculated that the ritual had been of pagan origin.
Although the order to stop the dancing had been strictly implemented and realized by the local clergy, some of the pilgrims were not stopped from doing the fandango during the feast of Obando. Some people were swaying discreetly on the streets as the procession passed by.
This has been the time for stopping a very beautiful tradition that had been deeply rooted among the very old ancestry of every Filipino from coming up to life.
Came 1972, and the whole town got into a new zest when the restrained tradition had been brought back to life. Under the supervision of a new parish priest under the name of Rev. Fr. Rome R. Fernandez, and through the cooperation of the Cultural Commission of Obando, the people of Obando started to dance the fandango. Many of them formed their own groups and had different types of Filipino clothes. Obando woke up again from a long sleep.
There had been light all around. The procession came back to life and full colors. The trombone musicians came back. The images of the three patron saints had been dressed up and offered with never-ending dancing.