Makati gets into the June picture because it celebrates its two fiestas on June 29, feast of Apostles Peter and Paul, and June 30 feast of the Nuestra Señora dela Rosa. These have been the patronal triumvirate of Makati since its foundation by the Jesuits in the 1600s.
On the first day the dance is to a Tagalog ballad in honor of Sta. Peter and Paul; on the second day it’s to a Tagalog madrigal in honor of the Virgin of the Rose, a Marian image from Acapulco that was brought in 1718 to the Sts. Peter and Paul Church by Jesuit Fr. Juan Delgado.
The Panatang Sayaw or the Bailes de los Arcos (Dance of the Arches) is an old and charming tradition in Barangay Poblacion, Makati that has been practiced since the 19th century. It is a ritual of praise and thanksgiving to the Sts. Peter and Paul and the Virgen dela Rosa.
As highlight of the fiesta, people gather in the acacia tree-shaded plaza facing the 17th century Church of Sts. Peter and Paul after the morning High Mass and procession.
Nine young maidens sing and dance the two-hour Tagalog ballad in front of the carrozas bearing the images of their patronal triumvirate.
Fiesta authority Dr. Alejandro Roces explained that the baile has three parts: the dicho, trono and awit. Both music and dance are ancient to Makati’s heritage and the charm of the pageant is in its very archaic formality.
The Dicho is the opening prayer consisting of simultaneous chants. The Trono is the singing of the prayer with musical accompaniment from a brass band.
The Awit is a combination of prayer, dance and song by the nine young ladies clad in pink and blue dresses.
Moreover, the Awit has two parts. The first is a song and dance of praise for the Virgen dela Rosa. The dancers hold pink and blue arcos or boughs. The second awit is a song and dance for Sts. Peter and Paul. This time the dancers use rhythmic castanets clicking to the beat.
According to Lourdes Policarpio, it is gratifying to note that such a precious piece of musical heritage has not been lost amidst the din of modern music composed for the present-day Mass.
The Nine Virgins
According to Roces, not just any girl can be a zagala. In the olden days, only fair-skimmed girls of good reputation and virgins, were chosen.
Policarpio reveals that tradition has it that the nine maidens chosen by the community should be virgins. There is a belief that should any of the young maidens be a non-chaste lady or her family will meet a misfortune or the town will be stricken by a natural calamity.
The rites of the Bailes de los Arcos have many elements of folk peity. Many parents and even the young participants of bailes had made a panata or vow to the Virgen de la Rosa and Saints Peter and Paul for various intentions.
For generation the Panatang Sayaw has been under the care of the Atilon family, with Linda Atilon Reyes as the current caretaker.
Nuestra Senora del la Rosa and her Young Dancing Maidens by Lourdes Policarpio
Old Makati and the Bailes de los Arcos by Alejandro Roces
Click Part I – Church of Nuestra Señora de Gratia, Part II – Guadalupe’s San Nicholasi, Part III –Sampiro de Makati, Part IV –Old Makati’s Bailes de los Arcos, Part VI – Nielson Tower, Part VII –The Manila American Cemetery, Part VIII – Reposo Street Makati