>One recurring theme, myth to be more precise, that crops up time and again in the presentations of competing “tribes” at the Kasadyahan portion of the Dinagyang Festival, January 22, 2011, is the shame, disdain even, for indigenous religion or beliefs.
Maasin town’s “Tultugan” troupe is impressive with the choreography of performers executed to the cadence of an all-bamboo ensemble of percussion and wind instruments, highlighting the town’s major source of income, the bamboo industry.
However, the performance falls into the trap of fawning over what the foreign colonizer has imposed on the native with the use of the sword. An epidemic strikes at a community; many fall ill and die. The native seeks refuge to indigenous healers who in turn plead supplication to the spirits, and failed.
The epidemic worsens until the Spanish friar, the Sto. Niño in tow, appears from nowhere, and voila, the sick and the dying are healed in an instant.
The colonizer is thanked, its religion is branded superior; the native’s “superstitious” beliefs are cast away.
The myth purveyed is anti-historical: it ignores the 300-year brutality of the colonizer, it skirts a key in the oppressive Spanish rule: the pivotal role of the friars, symbolized by national hero Jose Rizal as Padre Damaso — the colonial oppression facilitated by Catholicism – is conveniently concealed by the pageantry and drowned by the thunder of drums.