Pateros is a small modern city in Metro Manila. It is traditionally known for its duck egg industry and for its folks who love their traditions.
The fiesta of Sta. Marta, held every second Sunday of February is a well-loved tradition in Pateros. It is a thanksgiving celebration to Sta. Marta for saving Pateros’ duck egg industry.
In the olden days, town fiestas are the most exciting time of the year. It was a time when the town plaza and the church patio are crowded with people playing games at the feria, watching roving bands of musicians and participating in church-led activities and religious processions.
There is no doubt that it was fiesta day in Pateros as we walked our way to the church from Pateros Bridge. The street leading to the church is crowded with people, peddlers and products. Sold side by side with suman wrapped in leaves are folksy clay pots and red prayer candles, shaped in human form.
Under the sunny morning sky, devotees form a long line to have a chance to say their petitions and touch the image of Sta. Marta in the church patio.
Sta. Marta is patron of cooks, washerwoman and all motherly duties. In Pateros, she is the patron of duck raising where her folksy image is shown as if crushing a crocodile with her dainty feet.
According to legend, Sta. Marta did away the crocodiles that were wreaking havoc in the town’s duck egg industry. Thanks to Sta. Marta, Pateros is known today as the balut capital.
After the high mass, a roving band of musicians began playing fandango music. The image of Sta. Marta is then carried outside the church by a group of fandango-dancing strong men. Everybody fell in a trance dancing the fandango while chanting the song for their patroness.
We almost got crushed while following the massive crowd into the street but the technique to survive the Sta. Marta procession is to sway the same direction the fandango dancers go.
Traditional festival have become modern and commercialized. It is very seldom to see today in urban Metro Manila an old-fashioned fiesta like the Sta. Marta de Pateros Fiesta.
-Feast of Sta. Marta 2014