Performing Cosmopolitan Entanglement in the Philippine Pista: Sariaya Agawan Festival

Shirley V. Guevarra, Corazon F. Gatchalian, Sir Anril P. Tiatco

Abstract


This essay proposes cosmopolitan entanglement as a conceptual framework for the understanding of the Philippine pista (fiesta). The pista is a cosmopolitan phenomenon because communities engage in a disposition of cultural openness with the strange and the stranger. It is a performance of entanglement because it is a complex cultural phenomenon projected to be solemn yet secular, a festivity that neither the State nor the Church is in an ultimate position of authority, a parade of divinity, and a procession of spectacle. In arguing for cosmopolitan entanglement in the pista, the essay explores the 2007 Agawan festivity in Sariaya, Quezon, some 120 km south of Manila, as a case study. The first part is a conceptualization of cosmopolitanism as related to the pista using the Catholic dogma as lens. The analysis of Catholic dogma is necessary because in the Philippines the pista has its origin in Catholicism, its celebrations often coinciding with the feast day of a community’s patron saint. The second part examines the pista as a performance of entanglement. The final section describes the Sariaya pista via the Agawan festival as a case of cosmopolitan entanglement. The pista in Sariaya is an exemplar of cosmopolitan entanglement because community members perform cultural openness, which is also a mixing and matching of different performance activities, a strategy of combining the secular and the sacred, and a welcoming gesture to both the familiar and the stranger.

Keywords: Sameness plus difference, Philippine fiesta, Catholicism, performance, hospitality to strangers, communion


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