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August is the month of the monsoon rains.  In Barangay San Roque this is exacerbated by the fact that we sit on top of a plateau some 300 ft above sea level and we are at the fringes of a rain forest with its 17-hectare mountain lake. 

This means that whatever water evaporates from this rain forest and this lake must generally fall on us.  As rain.  So that it may be safe in fact to say that when Sorsogon is called “la orinola del mundo”, the label specifically refers to Barangay San Roque.  No other place else.

As early as the first week of August this year, to be safe therefore, we already made the offering of eggs at the Poor Clares Monastery praying for a favorable weather during the forthcoming 4 days of celebration. 

During this time, too, colorful banners 2.5 meters long and an assortment of buntings began to grow on some 150 bamboo poles planted along the main road.  Hitsura man san Roxas Blvd.!

It rained on August 14th.  The following day, a low pressure area was estimated to be at 1,050 kms east of Northern Luzon.  On the 16th, it came nearer to 600 kms; on the 17th at 500 kms.  Until it became a typhoon and was eventually baptized Lakay, the rains came avisiting all this time.

On the 15th, however, the sun came out bright behind an overcast sky.  The parade spritely made its way along the main barangay road, first to Purok Malungoy-lungoy, then to Purok Tiris and back to the elementary school grounds.  In this parade, the Ginabangan Festival offered a new glitter to the annual fiesta activity.  Eight floats representing 8 of the 9 puroks showed off the motif of the puroks they represented: Villamor I-Pili ; Villamor II-Burak; Quinajon-Produkto sa kadlagan; Ilawod-Anahaw; Central-Abaka; Bacolod-Lubi; Tiris-Solihon; Iraya-Karagumoy.  (Only Purok Malungoy-lungoy did not participate.)  Every float had a baby queen and her escort.

At the end of the parade was the street dancing, to express thanksgiving to God for his continued blessing and beneficence through Señor San Roque.  Fifteen pairs of village girls, with baskets made of coco fiber, bearing flowers, fruits and ibos, danced to the tribal music of the drums.  Behind them were five pairs of manangs and manongs dancing the novena as an elderly woman parades and elevates the statue of Señor San Roque.

Mrs. Cecilia Duran, Chairman of the Provincial Tourism Council, who came with her husband Mr. Fernando Duran, former Mayor of Sorsogon, and with Mr. Reynaldo Jamoralin, Secretary of the PTC, historian, writer, and head of Sorsogon Arts Council – had accolades heaped on this novel tourism attraction.  Also on hand were Dr. Lorenzo de Castro and some members of his staff at the DepEd District Office in Bulusan.

Judging the contest of the floats were: SB Kgd. Aloi Bañares as chair and members Mrs. Rosie Frando, Mr. Alex Fulminar, Mr. Ricardo Galve and Mrs. Alita Geñorga.

In all, the outcome of the festival was way beyond our expectations. The artistic presentation and the use of indigenous materials depicting their motif could only speak of the long strides Barangay San Roque had taken all these years.  Purok Bacolod specifically did us proud with the innovative rendition of a gown worn by their Baby Queen – it was a paste up of squares made of gusot, that jute-like material from up the coconut tree.

What surprised everyone was the Grand Prize winner – the float of Purok Iraya with its karagumoy motif – that received a cash award of P 5,000. Kontodo de Bulusan Volcano with its dadiangaw-smelling smoke! Also the generous use of the motif included the attire for the Baby Queen and her escort and that of the Mascot – all made of banig from karagumoy.  The 2nd prize of P 3,000 went to Purok Bacolod while the 3rd prize of P 2,000 went to Purok Central.  The remaining five other entries received a consolation prize of P 1,000 each.  Cash awards for the Ginabangan Festival came from Bulusan Travel and Tours Corporation c/o Madam Luz Z. Gamba.

Earlier in the week, the Clean and Green contest by Purok was also conducted.  Panel of judges included: Mrs. Evelyn de Mesa, Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer, Chair, and her members: Mr. Tanoy Bailon of the DepEd District Office, Mr. Tony Emberga of the Municipal Agriculture Office and Mrs. Elsa Fulo, Office of the Sanitary Inspector of the Rural Health Unit.

Again, it was Purok Iraya that romped off with the Grand Prize, another P 5,000.  The 2nd prize of P 3,000 went to Purok Villamor II while the 3rd prize of P 2,000 went to Purok Tiris.  Cash awards this time came from the Honorable Mayor Johnny Guysayko.  Whereas a few months back, no motorcycle would dare tread the trail to the Purok, this time even an owner jeep can!  This trail has been widened, the protruding rocks and roots of giant trees disappeared and the trail moderately leveled.  How they in Purok Iraya did it, no other person can explain better than the Kagawad-in-Charge, Cecil Olan.

In the evening of the 15th, there was no trace of cloud in the sky.  The SORECO poles we borrowed towered at the center of the school grounds and from its top were lines of fluttering banderitas like gaily-painted spokes of a giant colorful umbrella covering the green lawn of the elementary school.  Underneath were the jampacked revelers and dancers of the vespera ball.  The ambiance was just too tempting and irresistible!  Iba kasi, eh!

At four of the early morning of the 16th, when the last of the night revelers started for home, the rains started falling again.  After the 9 AM concelebrated mass officiated by the Vicar General, Msgr. Francisco P. Monje, it rained hard we could hardly hear our conversations in the little convento we have.  But it stopped quickly as it came.

In the evening of the 16th, before the Barangay Ball started, former DAR Undersecretary Danilo L. Encinas, gave the awards to the Ginabangan Festival and Clean/Green Contest winners.  He was to be present again on the 17th  -- the Grand Alumni Homecoming Day.

Just like the 15th, this day opened with a parade – this time of the Batch Kings and Queens.  At 7 AM, some of the retirees and former teachers/head teachers of San Roque Elementary School started to arrive:  Mr. Juan G. Galindes, Mrs. Remedios F. Galindes, Mrs. Josefina B. Fulo (to represent also Inoy Maxi), Mrs. Cleta Batalla, Mrs. Delia G. Diamante, Mrs. Raquel Grabador (who also stood for Mrs. Cleofe Gallano-Gacosta), and the retirees from San Roque: Mrs. Fay Fresado, Mrs. Matilde Gamba, etc. Like St. Peter’s entourage, they stood at the main gates to receive the Batches as they were introduced and acknowledged by the Emcee and entered the grounds to settle in their selected booths.

At 10:20 AM the procession started.  Marching towards the altar on the SRES covered stage were Rev. Fr. Nap Fumera, Rev. Fr. Bert Traballo, and the main celebrant, the Most Rev. Jesus Y. Varela, retired Bishop of Sorsogon, for the Alumni Homecoming Thanksgiving Mass.  In his homily, Bishop Varela expounded on the theme: Alumni – Pillars of the Community.

After the mass, Bishop Varela blessed the marker of the newly rehabilitated Marcos-type building, the two covered walks, the three gates and the renovated fence. 

A simple lunch was tendered at the Marcos-type building.  Bishop Varela sat with the two concelebrating priests, USEC Danny Encinas, Atty. Jess Fumera, and other guests.

Meanwhile, lacking sleep from the fiesta celebrations and tired from the morning parade, the alumni rested in the afternoon. Activities for the day resumed in the evening with the call for the last canvassing of the Homecoming Kings and Queens.

But first came the awarding of plaques of recognition and appreciation: the SRESAAI to the retired teachers and the set of Barangay Officials, SRES PTA officers and generous donors during the year 1996, three of them posthumously – to the late Honorable Señor Don Teodoro de Vera, the late Genaro Ferreras and the late Conrada B. Jao – and the SRES PTCA to the incumbent SRESAAI officers, both local and Manila chapters.

Then came the symbolic turn-over of the rehabilitated Marcos-type building and the other school improvements from the SRESAAI President Ms. Luz Z. Gamba to the DepEd in the person of PSDS Dr. Lorenzo F. de Castro.

To maximize the time, while the canvassing was going on, the election of the incoming officers was also conducted.  The results: New President: Nerio Beltran, VP-Local: Matilde Fortajada-Gamba, VP-Manila: Delia Palero-Aguilar, Secretary-Local-Fe F. Fumera, Secretary-Manila: Nida S. Dineros, Treasurer-Local: Flory Grefaldeo, Treasurer-Manila: Sol F. Adeza, Buss. Managers: Local – Prudencio Bo/Salome J. Fortes, BM-Manila: Rufino Balbalosa, PRO-Local: Santiago Forneloza, PRO-Manila: Esperanza Gapas-Masagca, Auditor-Local: Myla Ferreras, Auditor-Manila: Eden Abad-Seve.

Other members of the new Board of Trustees: Esteban Ete/Thelma Escopete/Nelly Ferreras/Natividad Lavarez/Freddie Luterte/Alma Berba/Roque Gabito/Buenaventura Ferreras/Lorna Forneloza/Domingo Balasta/Shirly Olayres/Salvacion Fuentes/Salvacion Perez.

The new officers were given the chance to speak.  Oath-taking and turnover ceremonies being scheduled to take place soon.

Final tally of the Homecoming King and Queen shows the following results: forty (40) batches turned in a total of P 87, 080 votes, with the following batches in their rank of First to Tenth places: Batch 65, Batch 62, Batch 54, Batch 64, Batch 93, Batch 51, Batch 58, Batch 46, Batch 60, and Batch 98.

The rains finally poured when Lakay intensified and the colorful banners had clung tight to the poles.  By then, we have had our fill. ‘T was perfect time to tuck in bed and sleep and dream.

Like Scarlett O’Hara, speaking of Tara, the place she loves, we also say, “Tomorrow is but another day.”  (Sim E. Gamba)


Vol. XV No.8 (June - August 2003)

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