* an old tradition: nightly processions leading to the Feast of Saint Paul the First Hermit
Allow me to skip briefly my recollection of the events of 2013 and share with you dear reader this recent occasion in our city of San Pablo, Laguna.
* Coco Trade Fair 2014!
This city, whose patron saint is Saint Paul the First Hermit (San Pablo ang Unang Ermitanyo) has just celebrated its annual feast. But as years passed, this celebration has now evolved to include a celebration of life and the kind of living in San Pablo. Perhaps one of the city’s most prominent features is its abundance of coconut trees. Thus, we have the annual Coco Festival to introduce the main products of this so-called tree of life not just materially but perhaps more importantly, culturally.
* one big buco pie!
Just like with the previous Coco Fest (shortened name for the festival), we had the nightly beer plaza as they call it (something that has been criticized a number of times already), band presentations, pageants (such as the Muting Lakan at Mutya, Lakan at Mutya, and this year a gay pageant), showbiz personality visits, among others. This year, the fest commenced on January 7 and ended on the actual feast of Saint Paul the First Hermit, January 15. Beyond the alcohol scent and smoke that rises each night, what I like the most on these nightly festivities is the intermingling of food, local/native products, and commercial products. Add to that the main spectacle of each night: the fireworks display. But then issues of too much spending come to mind as well.
* La Suerte Department Store and Mailing Center on its last stand on San Pablo City Plaza
* Mardi Gras!
This year’s coco trade fair featured local products from as far as Northern Luzon (empanada!). A fun run that was organized was also a first in the annual festival. And who would not have been amazed by that giant buco pie made by Collete’s Buco Pie? It was even featured in the morning TV program, Unang Hirit. I was not able to take note of the details about it actual preparation (such as the number of eggs used, among others) but it was fun to see San Pableños gathering around this big pie for a big eat. We were able to eat a few slices and to bring some home to be tasted again.
* float Procession during the annual Mardi Gras
The highlight of the annual fest, the Mardi Gras, happened on a rainy afternoon. It is basically a competition on dance and costume using the different parts of coconut. Contestants usually come from the elementary, high school, and even college levels. Immediate after the line up of dancers was the procession of floats from the different institutions in the city. Civic groups, fraternities, banks, schools, NGOs, commercial establishments, all of these gathered in the city proper to show off vehicles covered in different decorations, again made out of the different parts of the coconut tree. The rain shower did not hinder the young ones to gyrate on Rizal Avenue and to shout “Viva San Pablo, Coco Festival!”
Probably the song that will play in your head during the festivities: “Mabuhay ang San Pablo, mabuhay ang San Pablo!”