With barely two weeks to go before Christmas, town officials are now finalizing preparations to scale up their annual ‘Maytinis” Festival on Christmas Eve as a prelude to the midnight mass.
Kawit Tourism Officer Angelo Jarin Aguinaldo said that they expect a throng of 20,000 Yuletide revelers and holiday-goers from Cavite and neighboring areas to witness the celebration.
Aguinaldo said the festival had no known date and place of origin but believed to be three centuries old as a tradition dating back to when “the church of Kawit was built 370 years ago.”
He shared that the most common belief on Maytinis’ origin “was probably started by the Spanish priests” to facilitate the natives understanding of the Catholic religion.
The tourism officer explained that Kawit folks of three centuries back then may be a preliterate society made up of simple folks who could only deal with practical things, thus the need to use visuals to impart religious teachings and constructs which led to the Maytinis festival observance.
He said the festival kicks off with the Liturgy of the Word and the procession of floats along the streets, with each float representing a specific barangay or civic organization.
The floats are arranged in chronological order depicting the history of salvation followed by a pastor and pastora in colorful costumes typical of the float they represent including the character at that time, added Aguinaldo.
The procession also features the clowns or payaso as funny characters brimming with the barangays’ creativity and artistry who, aside from their antics, represent a satire of the burning issues of the time.
The Maytinis Festival highlights the journey of St. Joseph and Virgin Mary in search of an inn for Jesus Christ’s birth for the segment called “Panunuluyan.”
A dramatic event unfolds when Joseph and Mary who will sing to four chosen houses are driven away until the couple finds the manger or “sabsaban” which is mounted inside the church altar that is transformed into a theatrical “belen” (nativity scene).
The belen’s design, which emphasizes Christ’s humble beginnings, was done by the late painter Benny Mac and is now assigned to another painter, Angel Arigo Jr.
Various bands from nearby towns, sponsored by generous residents, also come to join in the procession which winds up at the church patio.
The personified Joseph and Mary proceed to the altar to re-enact the birth of Jesus Christ as the congregation and churchgoers join in the religious chorus of sacred music culminating to the “Nativity” scene and signaling the start of the Christmas midnight mass.
Today, Maytinis lives on as a tradition and has become a tourist attraction, a beautiful experience of live characters personifying the Holy Bible. (PNA)