Updated: Jan 18
Fiesta (Pista) is a traditional Filipino Holiday that celebrates the patron saint of every city, town, barrio in the Philippines. It is characterized by celebrations of Holy Mass, parades, singing contests, local beauty contests and most of all, an overflowing of food in every home.
In my hometown, as in most Filipino homes, every family would prepare months in advance for this feast and there’s no need to send out invites to relatives and friends, they just show up. Yes, you can show up uninvited and you can also bring your friends who may not be known to the host. The best dishes, glasses and cutleries for special occasions are taken out of the cupboard (platera). Tenants would arrive to help with preparation of the house and cooking of food. If there’s not enough money in the household, an advance payment will be taken from the local copra (dried coconut meat) or palay (unmilled rice) merchants, with a promissory note of the next harvest.
Families would prepare months in advance for the feast
The fiesta at our Grand Uncle/Auntie’s town falls in October, in honor of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. The feast day comes with intermittent rain or sometimes it coincides with typhoons as October is already part of the rainy season in the Philippines. But their guests were never deterred by the weather inclement because fiestas were, and still are, celebrated rain or shine. Our beloved Grand Uncle/Auntie raised our mother and younger aunt because they were childless, thus this extra set of care and nurturing filled our childhood days with unconditional love and warmth.
Last year, our Mother passed away and during the 9th Day of her passing, it felt like Fiesta one more time, as a lot of people came to mark the occasion and the cupboard was empty. All the dishes, glasses and cutleries were in use, there’s a flow of food served. But this time, it is our generation’s turn to prepare and serve. For a moment, the scene brought me back to my childhood days. The sound of conversations and laughter among our relatives and friends comforted us, but most of all the warmth, sincerity and grace filled our hearts.
“ Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it's called a present.” ~Earle
As I looked at the dishes, glasses and cutleries that have outlived its owners, I promised myself that when I come back home to California, I will start using the content of my own cupboard.
Quoting Alice Morse Earle: “ Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it's called a present.”
Do not save the use of things for special occasions, use them now and enjoy them, while we can. Live well daily!!!