My old collegues emailed me that they had been to the Osage festival and then  a Celtic/Scottish Festival, and were looking forward to the Oktoberfest.

Ah yes. Such small town festivals and dances remind people of their history and heritage, not only with those attending but with small groups learning the traditional dances and music, and people sewing and wearing traditional costumes allow both adults and children to learn about their roots.
We do this also in the Philippines. We have fiestas all the time complete with beautiful girls in modern ball gowns are seen along with those dressed in traditional Spanish costumes and the costumes of their Pinoy ancestors.
What brought this to mind was the party we attended last week: For entertainment, the local Women’s club danced the fandango and the Quadrille, in traditional Spanish gowns.

Alas, the average age of the women was 70, so this dance heritage might be forgotten in the smaller Luzon villages in another ten years. Yes, the families of Manila will be able to go to see professional dancers, but in the villages, who will keep the tradition alive, when often both parents are working and may even be working overseas to earn a living?

The Philippines has a rich dance heritage, and like much of the country, it has mixed the Spanish and American and Asian cultures with local folk dances. .Some nice photos HERE of various dancers. Luckily, the heritage may be dying in the villages in favor of modern dance, but it has been kept alive in the larger towns and cities thanks to local dance groups and heritage societies and the professional dance groups in Manila.
But here in the provinces, the elders still keep their heritage alive, but the old traditions are fading.
In Manila, the elite families are often Chinese, but up here in the country, many less wealthy but prominent families like my husband’s family have Spanish blood…and although thanks to land reform we no longer own the local land (except for a few acres per family member), until about ten years ago, when my husband visited during the fiesta, he would bring lots of US cash, and the farmers who once worked for his father would visit, bringing a little rice or fruit or sweets as a gift, and he would give them a dollar or two as a gift.

No longer. His son is Protestant and strict and no longer follows the old traditions such as looking the other way at missing work and petty theft (not really theft, since the workers are part of the family, and one can’t really steal from one’s family, it’s just borrowing something you need).
On the other hand, things have also changed in the villages, which now are changing from picturesque villages to towns with concrete roads with TV antennas on every house.
Sigh. We could see it coming…the farm villages got electricity in 1990, and by 1995 you could see TV antennas, bamboo houses replaced by concrete housing, and signs in the shops saying : Cellphone calls to Saudi available here.

Few of the children, who now are educated, want to go back to working the land when jobs in Manila and overseas are available. So now, almost twenty years later, the roads are lined with the vacation houses of people from Manila, and we have to hire farmers for our small fields from the Visayas…

Yet the older generation still remember their heritage, although in another generation one may no longer see a quadrille danced at a fiesta, today we still can see the lolas dance in silken gowns, just like their mothers and grandmothers before them…

Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket, and she posted part of this essay at Boinkie’s blog 

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