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A Unique Christmas Tradition In Loboc, Bohol
« on: December 17, 2007, 09:25:45 PM »
Written By Jun T. Balbido

Christmas is just around the corner and many Boholanos will now look once again to one town in the province where a uniquely rich tradition still thrives, and how!

Yes, this music town – where it is said almost every house has either a piano or at least one music instrument which is played by at least 2 or 3 members of the household and which celebrates music as Vienna used to do – has a Christmas celebration to end all Christmas celebrations.
For in Loboc, the Yuletide Season begins – with a real big bang at that! On Dec. 24 and ends in similar fashion, literally and figuratively, on Candlemass Day or Candelaria on Feb. 2.

Loboc has this legendary “Suroy sa mga Musikero,” a caroling done from one house to the next by a brass band composed of volunteer musicians who get together for the singular purpose of performing daily from one designated barrio or barangay to the other for the entire holiday season. The musikeros are usually a mixed groups of professional musicians, professionals engaged in other trades but enjoy indulging their special gift of music, and musically talented students, collegiate or high school, who all join up for the simple fun of giving joy in this special season of joy.

Some of the more notable band members have been the late Iyo Ambo, the Bilirans, the Salig Brothers, the Balbins – from the late Manong Jose to grandson Rene who has since made quite a name in the European band music circuit – the Varquezes, the Requiermes and several others who have all contributed in putting Loboc in the music camp of the Philippines.

The band’s repertoire ranges from traditional Chritsmas carols to current popular hits which can get so jivey, they oftentimes prod a vivacious host to do a song number or revelers to dance to their hearts’ content.

No home, no matter how humble, “dares” excuse itself from playing host to these manaygunays first because this tradition has become so ingrained in every Lobocanon’s heart and psyche, and secondly, because these ambulant musikeros are prepared to receive a hu-og that could be anywhere from a peso to a hundred and yes, sometimes – luckily for them – a generous thousand pesos, usually from some visiting successful former townsfolk or “balikbayans.”

The Christmas spirit of the Lobocanons is also evident in the derigeur belen or nativity crèche and invariably a tree adorning a spruced up sala. The festival air is carried to the table fare laid out by the host celebrators of the “eats” that particular day. This can be filled by anything from such standards as the puto and suman to the much more sumptuous lechon. Residents love impressing visitors with stories about residents who are too lazy to prepare their own meals to be saved from starvation by simply keeping tab of which barrio or barangay is scheduled on which day and braving hills or miles of untrodden paths to be where the “suroy” is and help themselves to whatever is laid out on the table by the guisuroyan.

The municipal government has sactioned all these activities since time immemorial. In fact, it has of late been more than encouraging residents to continue the tradition to bolster an ongoing government thrust in the direction of tourism development with generous funding from business sectors and various donors, and its construction thru the most able management of the late Engr. Pablo O. Bastes (former Mayor of Loboc) with assistance of LOSPROD, the Loboc Special Project Development, Inc. Centerpiece of this tourism project is the development of “Kruz Daku,” the highest point of the mountain range that nearly surrounds the municipality where a gigantic cross of 80 feet and 4 by 4 feet in size has been built to be lit ablaze at night for even the neighboring towns to see.

The area around it which is made up of undulating land has also been artistically landscaped and resting stations are provided, enabling visitors to enjoy the breathtaking view of mountains, hills and valley all around and even the sea beyond Loay and slightly distant Panglao, reminiscent of German-Austrian landscapes (no not Vienna!) such as the famous Salzburg of the movie “Sound of Music.”

Below “Kruz Daku,” the typical relihiyosong Bol-anon that Lobocanons are have built in appropriate terrain the 14 stations of the Cross, the starting another tradition in town. Pilgrimage to “Kruz Daku” is usually done by devotees as far as from Tagbilaran City and farflung and various places to do their Station of the Cross. But that is another story.

For now, Loboc can rest with the laurel of having a Christmas celebration that is comparable to none in the entire archipelago and possibly throughout the world.

source: The Bohol Chronicle, A A Bi-Weekly Newspaper


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Suroy Sa Musikero: A Bol-anon Christmas Tradition

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