On a New Kind of Light – New Year in Maligcong

Minsan“, (“Sometimes”) short and vague answer of Kuya Ramon when asked whether they use fireworks or bonfire during New Year. He is a local farmer of Maligcong rice terraces living in Sitio Fabuyan.

Far from the contrasting situation of the metro’s festivity for the upcoming year wherein different sources of sound – singing in karaoke, blowing of horns, launching of fireworks and other firecrackers – filled up the nights before the exact New Year’s eve. Somehow, in Maligcong, celebration was really quiet and peaceful. It was just a simple dinner among families sometimes in front of a bonfire. There were one group of locals caroling with their pet dog. Also, one at a time, you would hear the sound of baby rocket  launched filling up the silence of the night. And as the clock strikes twelve, the sound made by the locals blowing horns at the distant Sitio Farung-ao echoed through the mountains. There were other few labintador launched and teens riding in their motorcycle with tin cans attached to it add liveliness to that transition of year. It lasted for an hour – and everything became quite still again.

Taking a photo of a baby rocket launched in Sitio Fabuyan could be really tricky. You’ll be caught off-guarded on moments you’re not prepared to take a photo. See the motion blur in my photo? Yes, but it was the best I could get.

Kuya Rocky, also a local of Sitio Fabuyan but residing in Baguio, also passed by that viewpoint where I’m sitting. We had a short conversation about the names of sitios in Maligcong and about the New Year celebration of the locals. “Yung iba, natutulog na lang. Yung iba naman, yung mga bata, nagpapaputok. Matitigas ang ulo“,  (“Others would just sleep. Some, specially the kids, were hard-headed, still lighting up fireworks”) he said laughing. He cited how instead of having grand new years eve celebration, most of the farmers, specially the women and old, would prepare the terraces for the new agricultural year. That explains the local women clearing off the weeds of the crop fields we met when we arrived at Maligcong a day before.

“Agtan yu kami as kopya mi pang souvenir”, (“Give us a copy [of our photo] for souvenir”), said by these hardworking ladies when we asked permission to take their photos while clearing off the weeds. It was afternoon of the 30th of December.
The agricultural year was somehow late for this year. Instead of December, it was moved to January. One of the reasons, there were lots of celebration like weddings and baptismal happening. Most of the locals were busy preparing for the feast. Also, because typhoons were pestering the country even at the end of the year. However, you can still see some of them working on their farms even on days considered as a holiday season for the country.

For these folks, every day is as important of any other day. May it be that new year or not will come, the agricultural year must be set in motion. There are no day-off in chasing your dream – same as in farming – you waste no day for your harvest season, and New Year is of no exception.

* Labintador - universal term for fireworks or any form of firecracker.

* Baby Rocket - a type of firecracker

Trivia: Few hours before twelve midnight, this is how me and my friend Pat (The Green Wayfarer) celebrated it: Bonfire, Smores, and some long exposure shots. Thanks to Ate Rowena of Maligcong Terraces View Guest House for accommodating us. You may contact them through text or call as data signal may be intermittent – 09151881732.


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