Each city or village celebrates the day of his Patron saint. For Zamboanguita that was May 15 and nicely coincided with Annelies' birthday. Festivities already start a week before the actual date. Motorbike races, elections of miss Zamboanguita (the winner gets an astonishing 20.000 pesos), extra cockfights, boat races, disco and lechon parties are all part of the festivities. I'll elaborate on the nicest activities.
We visited the boat races on Saturday. There were two competitions, one for the fisherman boats, which had to peddle a full round (some 600 meters) and the race competition. 10 guys had boats they made themselves from marine plywood and metal outriggers with nice aerodynamics and a small engine. They had to race against one other competitor for two rounds. It looked a bit like a formula one race with nice maneuvers. Unfortunately, both in the semifinal and the final one of the boats gave up prematurely because either the outrigger broke, or the engine stalled. Look for some pictures on the facebook page of Annelies. The races were originally created because everybody has a hangover after the big party on May 15. People go to the beach anyway to have a swim to get rid of their hangover, so the municipality came up with some nice entertainment. Apparently the same guy wins each year, but because his engine stalled in the final somebody else won. The public demanded a second race and indeed, if his engine would have functioned he would have won easily.
We were invited for three lechon parties in two days. A wedding lunch, the birthday of the mayor and an invitation of a good friend of a friend. When Filipinos throw a party it includes food, and a lot of it. Prime dish is the lechon, or roasted piglet. A whole piglet gets roasted over a fire and they stuff some herbs in its belly. The result looks like some medieval painting, only missing the apple in the pigs' mouth. Prime parts (for Filipino's, not for most foreigners) are the ears, eyes and nose. They make a sauce from part of the blood and finely chopped organs (yummie). The pig is served on a wooden dish in the shape if a pig and two big carving knifes so you cut a part of meat of your choice with some crisp skin. The taste is pretty good (of the normal meat part), but after three lechons it is time for some vegetables again. Vegetables are not part of a special meal, you just have the choice between 5-7 different meat dishes and accompanied with rice of course. We got instructed that with parties it is very normal that if you are not a close friend of the birthday boy, you eat the food and then go again. The richer people are, the more people they invite. After two hours everybody has eaten (you're only supposed to stay for about an hour) and you continue the party only with family and close friends.
The wedding lunch was also nice because it gave us a peak into Filipino wedding customs. Everybody marries in church (that makes sense, the whole country is devotedly catholic), but very few people have enough money to rent the whole church for the service. So you marry with more couples at the same time. In this case mass started at 7 in the morning, so 16 couples could be married before various wedding lunches started. Tony, our Coastal Resource manager and close friend explained that when he married there were an additional 52 couples. He was last in the alphabet, so by the time he had to tell his vows he had already hard them 52 times and so it was easy to remember for him what to say.
We were only invited for the lunch since we didn't even know the bride, we had met the father a couple of times though. He used to be a sailor and had even been in the port of Rotterdam.
We visited one of the disco parties on Thursday evening. That was not really a success, they had a huge music installation and light show on the main square, but the square was so big that even with 300 people on the dance floor it seemed half empty. The DJ had a different opinion about good music than us, so we kept it at one party.
The municipality with the nicest Patron saint is the neighboring municipality of Siaton were we often dive. Their Saints day is on December 6 and is also known in the Netherlands as Sinterklaas!