KAWIT, Cavite – Local folks as well as visitors, witnessed the holding of this town's Yuletide Catholic Church tradition, dubbed as "Maytinis", on Christmas Eve.
Organized by the town’s Confradia De Sagrada Familia St. Mary Magdalene Parish, the annual event relives the journey of St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary in search for an inn for Jesus Christ’s birth, hence, the long procession around town.
The Maytinis, which has always been a huge crowd-drawer, includes the procession of floats carrying local folks portraying various biblical characters like Adam and Eve, the Seven Archangels, brothers Cain and Abel, La Purisima Concepcion, Abraham, Moises, King David, Samson and Delilah, Infanta Judith and Queen Esther.
However, beyond the event’s beauty and grandeur, Archdiocese of Imus Bishop Reynaldo G. Evangelista, D.D., said the festival highlights the simplicity and humility of the Lord Jesus which is “the spirit of the Christmas Season."
“The Incarnation of our Lord has reconnected us to God. During one of those dark and cold winter nights, when only people cared to lock themselves secure in the warmth of their homes, the warmth of God’s love permeated humanity,” Evangelista also said in his message during the event.
The story of Maytinis, he noted, is the story of God’s love completely unfolded in human history.
Evangelista further said that "while He remains God, His choice to freely embrace the joys, sorrows, and hopes of being truly human was never easy as he lived, ate, dined, cried, prayed and hoped with us, to show that in the midst of life’s vicissitude and limitations, there is joy and fulfillment in self-giving."
Dr. Norberto Victa Rayupa, festival narrator, who heads Kawit’s tourism office, disclosed that the word "Maytinis" comes from the Latin word "Matins", which, in Oxford dictionary, means a Christian service of morning prayer, especially in the Anglican Church.
“It means prayer in honor and praise to the Almighty Father,” a tradition being practiced by the Catholics of Kawit, under the auspices of Confradia de Sagrada Familia, with the guidance of the local parish, Rayupa added.
He further explained that the mystery of its exact origins remain, which even the First President of the Republic, General Emilio Aguinaldo, could not recall when. “Nakagisnan na lang” (he grew up with the tradition in practice), he said.
Tool for information
In 1977, to be an effective tool of information about salvation, Most Rev. Felix P. Perez, Bishop of the Diocese of Imus met with Msgr. Hernando Gudoy, Rev. Fr. Tony Roxas, Rev. Fr. Jimmy Catipay and other church organization leaders to include the "karosa" (float) based on the true story of salvation: Adam and Eve, La Purisima Concepcion, Noah and his ark, the young Moses, King David, King Solomon, Ruth and Noemi, Samson and Delilah, Infanta Judith, Reyna Ester, The Promise (of the Lord) to Zacarias, "Pagbati" (greeting), the Visitation of Maria to Elizabeth, "Panunuluyan" (search for lodging/shelter, the Anunciation, and Inang Pilipinas (Mother Philippines).
At present, the festival is divided into two parts. First is the celebration of the Word of God, followed by the procession of some 15 floats that represent the town’s villages.
The festival also features different "payasos" (clowns), a representation of the various issues plaguing the country today, presented in comical manner – “a reflection of the townsfolk's creativity,” Rayupa said.
Adding to the festival mood are the various marching bands from Kawit and nearby towns, playing lively Christmas songs to perk up the crowd.
The event’s highlight was the "Panunuluyan" depicting Joseph and Mary's journey seeking for a shelter that ends in the "sabsaban" or manger where Jesus Christ was born.
The traditional life-sized Nativity scene serves as the centerpiece of the religious event.
The second important part of the "Maytinis" is the Liturgical Mass of the Eucharist that welcomes all who want to accept the Savior through the bread of life.
Tradition to live on
The theme of this year’s “Maytinis” is “Masagana Ating Yamang Tradisyon: Ingatan Natin, Isabuhay at Sariwain” (Our rich traditions and heritage: protect, live and re-live).
It represents the organizers’ intent to continue with the tradition with the guidance of the Parish Church, organized by the Confradia de Sagrada Familia, in close coordination with the local officials headed by the town mayor, village officials and the whole community of Kawiteños.
This year’s “Ama” at “Ina” who served as event sponsors, are Bro. Gerardo R. Ramos and Councilor Divina R. Pulido. (PNA)