A virtual festival of ‘kneeling carabao’

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PULILAN, Bulacan, Philippines — The enhanced community quarantine did not stop a family here from honoring San Isidro Labrador (Saint Isidore the Worker), patron saint of farmers, by recreating the annual “Kneeling Carabao Festival” through a virtual presentation.

Patterned after the actual fiesta in Pulilan, the animated dioramas featured 43 carriages with “bahay kubo” (nipa huts), carabaos and farm products in a simulated parade.

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And as in the real-life festivity, carabaos pulled the carriages and were made to kneel as they passed by an image of Pulilan Church.

The dioramas also had a “crowd,” with some tourists lining up on the side as they watched the floats pass by.

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A grand “wang-wang” (siren) signaled the start of the parade, with its colorful floats representing the local parish, the municipal government, other local government agencies and private establishments.

Brainchild

The festival was the brainchild of 26-year-old artist and photographer Jimwell Tocjayao.

Together with the help of his family, Tocjayao said he came up with the concept to continue the tradition of honoring San Isidro Labrador and celebrating the Kneeling Carabao Festival even amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused the cancellation of other festivities in the country usually held around this time of the year.

“We pray that this tribute to San Isidro will help us bring back our once vibrant life. We also pray for the healing of those who were infected with the virus,” Tocjayao said in an interview with the Inquirer.

It took him 16 days to complete the dioramas in time for Pulilan’s festival on May 14 and 15.

P500 project

Quarantine time, Tocjayao said, should not prevent the town from observing its tradition as this is an occasion for reaffirming faith.

Tocjayao and his family spent P500 for the project. He made the parade figures out of paper, cardboard and clay, among other materials, which a closed school supply store agreed to deliver to his house.

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To make the festival more realistic, Tocjayao had it accompanied by a recording, with a voice asking onlookers to stay on the sidewalks so as not to obstruct the parade.

The festival was shown on YouTube and Facebook on May 14 and 15, and was watched in the Philippines, the Middle East, the United States, and Italy and other European countries.

“There were those who thanked me for coming up with this idea,” Tocjayao said, “because they could still celebrate the feast of San Isidro Labrador even during this pandemic.”

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