BANTOANONS HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE silakinglobe.gif (22847 bytes)

Biniray sa Sentenyal
by: Lyndon F. Fadri

It was a stormy September 20 morning. Rain clouds covered the sky while the wind mildly but constantly blew with humid air. Brief rain showers occurred from time to time. Actually, a typhoon signal was raised in some areas in the country including Romblon. Days before, rain were pouring heavily and continuously, flooding a lot of areas in the metropolis.

The early morning saw Bantoanon devotees of St. Nicholas of Tolentino prepare for the sixteenth edition of Biniray and assemble in the designated bus pick-up points, although about one-third of them decided to bring their own cars. At about seven, the vehicles started negotiating the slippery or rugged roads to Kinalaglagan Beach Resort in Mataas Na Kahoy, Batangas.

At about 9:00 A.M., the revelers started to arrive. They were welcomed by the members of the Help, Love our Brethren Organization, popularly known as the HLB, who were in charge of the physical arrangements. Not long after, members of the Kapisanan ng mga Bantoanon sa Lipa, otherwise known as KABALI, treated the devotees to a refreshment. During the merienda, kamustahan of all sorts took place as the attendees moved from one place to another, shaking hands, patting shoulders, embracing, exchanging smiles, some kissing the hands of the elderly, and telling stories. The sound resembling the buzzing of a multitude of bees echoed in the steep slopes going down the beach.

Copies of the January-June issue of Silak were also distributed - literally, for that much-needed sun light that wet morning.

At about 10:00 o’clock, the devotees gathered in the quadrangle for the celebration of the holy mass. Fr. Vino Faminialagao, Fr. Pershing Faeldog, and Fr. Gines Boada, the new parish priest of Banton led. In his homily, Fr. Vino, while from time to time shared a reminiscence of his days in the island, focused on the significance of the Biniray.

When the mass ended, Executive Committee Chairman Erasmo Ferrera took some time out to introduce and thank the chairmen and vice-chairmen of the different working commitees and the other individuals who contributed to the realization of the year’s Biniray. He also expressed his gratitude to the hundreds of devotees hearing the mass. And as started in the immediately preceding staging of Biniray, panacilios, the healing pieces of bread of St. Nicholas, were distributed.

A procession reminiscent of the long processions in the town of Banton followed. With the leaders of the faith and the executive committee members in front, the devotees lined up and proceeded to the kiosk at the elevated terrain overlooking the entire beach resort. As usual, the revelers sang the gozos, with the loud, confident, and the very-asi voices of the religious elderly standing out. Unfortunately, heavy rains poured, dispersing the devotees who fled to the sheds scattered in the place. Nevertheless, the small lead group bearing the statue of St. Nicholas proceeded down the lakeshore and rode a motorized banca. They drove to the waters fronting the quadrangle, and after circling thrice, went ashore. The kamustahans and istoryahans continued. This time, over a hearty lunch, agape-style.

Not long after lunch, undisputed game master Darry Fabul with his wards, the HLB boys called for the start of the much-awaited parlor game competitions. Teams from Togong (TogMA), Lipa (KABALI), Sibay, Nasunogan, Batangas (KBB) and the defending champion Tungonan, among others, participated. The cheers from spectators mixed it up with the sounds of the heavy downpour pouncing the grounds and the galvanized roof of the quadrangle as participants looked determined winning the games for their teams. The hotly contested games included egg catching, sack race, Maria went to market, coins hunting, triple-legs relay, tanog-tanogan et radom, message relay and charade.

Halfway through the games, a lady representative from each team was called for a surprise game. It attracted young and old including Lola Leoning Fabonan. The crowd started cheering. The quadrangle nearly exploded when the name of the game was announced - the search for Ms. Biniray sa Sentenyal. The cheers got louder when Lola Leoning started posing and waving to the delight of the crowd. She was chosen overwhelmingly by the crowd as the winner. A trophy was awarded her by Erasmo Ferrera and Fr. Boada. After which, Lola Leoning showcased her dancing prowess for another round of continuous applause from the appreciative and enjoying crowd.

TOGMA placed first while KABALI placed second at the end of the elimination round to advance to the championship round with TOGMA enjoying a twice-to-beat advantage. The next game was "pahaba-habaan", that is, the team that can form the longer unbroken line wins. Both teams, making use of their brains to gain advantage, used shoestrings, handkerchiefs, belts and even their T-shirts. Some members of KABALI, sensing defeat, took off their pants for another round of cheers, shouts and laughter. Apparently, TOGMA members were still on their right minds to follow suit, and so, a do-or-die game ensued. Not mending the rain showers, the KABALI group beat TOGMA in the tug-of-war to gain the championship.

At about 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon, attendees started packing up and before the darkness set in, they were heading home as the rain showers and brief gutsy blows of the wind continued. With souls in high spirit and hearts filled with fun, they must have said to themselves - "We’ll be back next year. Rain or shine

Volume II No I