Listening to: Don't Stop Me Now by Queen
Reading: Philosophy text
As usual this will be short since I have a take-home examination for Philosophy class. So in the library, late afternoon (my favourite part of the day) and save for the stains on my brand-new shirt, it was a pretty good day consisting mostly of discussions with a friend. There's a group of girls in front of my desk, taking photos of clothes on a couch across some man who awoke from slumber (which many students do here anyway since the whole facility is air-conditioned). The whole day I just had this wonderful sensation that something was on its way. I tried to explain it to my friend and another person over lunch, and the most I could come up with was that it reminded me of my schoolboy days.
Around the end of September was the fiesta in honour of the Holy Guardian Angels, who were the patron saints of the Catholic school I attended. As with the many religious fiestas that occur year-round in the country, a procession takes place where image(s) of the patron(s) and other venerated figures are placed on carrozas and are brought around the locale for the people to venerate. In my school, young boys from the lower three years are selected to play those tutelary spirits, to walk in between the carrozas as the holy queue winds its way through corridors and buildings to the chant of the rosary. I was always selected by my classmates, while as to who my fellow angels were varied yearly. Mum would go with me several days before to the costume rental shop to get my robe and wings. They were made of feathers on a frame and reached until the back of my knees, and were worn like a knapsack with thick wires resting on the shoulders. Unlike paper wings, they were very heavy, and the procession usually lasted an hour or more.
The morning of the fiesta was when I would forget I had lessons or assignments, since by early afternoon I would be pulled out of class to dress up for the procession. I would pass by the Chapel, where the carrozas, low enough to fit the then-low ceilings of the corridors, were already decked out with flowers. The saints were fixed to them, ready for their annual tour of the campus. By afternoon, they readied the candles and incense, and we were positioned for the procession. Through the hallways we went, with our schoolmates seated cross-legged on the sides watching as we slowly paced. A speaker mounted on a small wooden cart blared the Hail Mary and occasional Glory Be, but the teacher accompanying us always managed to shut me up when I would make small talk with other angels instead of being a silent (albeit walking) statue, hands folded in prayer. We knew it was over when, for lack of a campanile, the public address system played a cassette of ringing church bells. Us angels had special seating in the front pews of the Chapel for the concluding service, where the Reverend Headmaster would preach a short sermon, bless the images, and by the light of the crayon-shaded stained glass of the box chandeliers, declare the school fair open.
Every fiesta week was special then, as I anticipated that brief role which was not much but still managed to stir ever-increasing joy in me. That and the days leading up to Christmas* - the most important holiday here in the islands - were marked by some sort of carefree excitement for the school holiday. Eid-ul-Fitr is this coming Monday, and it is for Muslims a joyous celebration with family, food, and much feasting like Christmas. Apparently, this giddy anxiety for an annual bit of paradise comes at just about the right time for me, even if I'm obviously Catholic.
*My experience of Filipino Christmas is for another time, given that I would end up explaining the cultural aspects of it all.