The past two weekends have been making me feel rather popular, as I was invited to two separate church events. In the interest of not making these blog posts prohibitively long, I'll be talking about each one separately.
On Sunday October 6th, Holy Guardian Angels Church was hosting its fiesta. Ma'am Rouilla, one of the teachers I work with at Easter School, attends there, and insisted that I needed to come. She picked me up and we rode a jeetny down to the church.
I should back up and explain what a fiesta is here in the Philippines. Every church has its feast day, normally the feast day of its patron saint. On that day, the church congregation throws a big party, celebrating a special mass and then having lunch, music, and dancing in the afternoon. It's a big deal for the congregation as a whole.
So after the church service, which was led by the bishop, everyone headed downstairs to the church's main hall. Ma'am Rouilla mentioned that this hall was named for her grandfather, who supplied most of the money to build it. There was music, both from all the congregation and from the various choirs and groups present.
This is the brotherhood of St. Andrew singing as a group.
This is the Holy Guardian Angels choir, who also performed.
The children's choir and the teen group also performed, but I didn't take pictures during their performances. Especially with the children's choir, I was too busy finding it adorable to remember my camera.
The bishop also enjoyed the music!
After the choirs performed, there was a lunch provided. I ended up getting moved to sit near the bishop and several of the higher-ranking members of the congregation, and kept watching as more and more food was brought out. Even taking just a small sample of each dish, I ended up full with food still left on my plate. About the only dish I didn't enjoy was the fermented rice, and that is more to do with the fact that it tastes extremely alcoholic and my alcohol tolerance is approximately nil. They told me there wasn't enough actual alcohol in the dish to get me even slightly intoxicated, but I wasn't taking any chances, given that my main response to much more than a half-glass of wine is to fall asleep.
And after the lunch there was dancing! Traditional Igorot mountain dancing. After about one song through they pulled me up along with several of the women in the congregation and tried to teach me how to do it:
The whole dance is done to the music of the gongs the men play in the center, so the main trick I found was just to keep moving to the beat and follow the women in front of me for a clue as to how to move my hands. I must have been somewhat successful, people afterward asked me how many times I had done the dances before and seemed surprised when I said it was my first time.
We left early from the fiesta, as Ma'am Rouilla had a class she was taking that afternoon that she had to get to. We stopped briefly past her house and she introduced me to her parents. Her father decided he was going to tease me by mentioning he had two sons around my age who were still unmarried and that he should set me up with one of them, as he needed an American daughter-in-law.