Obando Fertility Rites
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Jose W. Hernandez, 1990

In prehispanic times May was also the season for fertility dances. The Catholic Church pragmatically convinced the natives to conduct their dances in front of saint's images instead of idols.

In Obando, Bulacan every May 17 to 19 fertility dances are performed in the parish church and then on the streets of the town. The three day fiesta is celebrated in honor of San Pascual de Baylon, Sta. Clara and Nuestra Senora de Salambao (Our Lady of Salambao). Prayers are offered to the three saints -  Sta. Clara is the patron saint of the childless; San Pascual de Baylon is the model of religious virtue; and Our Lady of Salambao is the saint to whom fishermen pray for a bountiful catch.

For Santa Clara, the childless dance, praying for children and the unmarried dance in the hope of finding a mate (with the women and men dancing on separate dates). Parents dance in thanksgiving for finding a mate and for the blessing of children. Fishermen and farmers dance for a good harvest.

According to experts the dance must be performed with gyrating hips in time to the music and with belief. Many of town's people join in the dance although they may have no particular petition. One can observe the numerous childless couples, thankful parents, grateful farmers and fishermen dance along the streets together with colorfully customed women to pray for children and a good harvest. The population growth attests to the effectiveness of the right movements.

Traveler's Companion: Philippines