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ALL ABOUT THE TURUMBA FESTIVAL:

 

Turumba Festival

    Every year during the months of April and may, the people of Pakil, in the province of Laguna celebrates the Turumba Festival. It commemorates the seven sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is held 7 times each year between the months of April and May. The first is held on the Friday before Palm Sunday and the last falls on Pentecost Sunday.
   

  Here's a brief history of how this tradition began:

        During the late 18th century, some fishermen saw an picture  of the Blessed Virgin Mary caught in their  net while fishing in   Laguna de Bay. The fishermen then decided to bring the image to the nearest church they could find. When they reached the seashore, all efforts to bring it to the church was futile because the image became so heavy. the following morning a lot of people gathered around the image because of the news that it was immovable. When the priest arrived, he and the people vowed that they would make an annual pilgrimage to the image. in doing so, they succeeded in bringing it to they church.
       On the way to the church some of the people started dancing and singing in praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  This singing and dancing is what we call turumba and many devotees today sing a song that was written especially for the said event
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Early Accounts of the Turumba:

     A French naval surgeon, Paul P. de la Gironiere, wrote the earliest description of the turumba Festival. He lived in the town of Jala-Jala in the neighboring province of Rizal during the 1830's - 1840's. His book entitled  Twenty Years in the Philippines , written in the 19th century, contained an account of the Turumba.
        This is what Gironiere wrote about the Turumba:

         "Some religious festivals especially those in the countryside, are influenced by beliefs. For instance, there is a procession celebrated yearly in the town of Pakil where all the sick and invalid take part in by dancing. In this manner, they believe, that they will get cured of their sufferings. Coming from places as far as 20 miles, the lame and sick who still have a little bit of strength plod themselves along to Pakil to participate in the fiesta. 
            During the entire duration of the procession these unhappy ones dance assisted by helpers and shout 'Toromba la Virgen, la Virgen toromba'. It is a strange spectacle to see all these poor devils make superhuman efforts and incredible contortions until the Blessed virgin is returned to the  church. These unfortunate ones at the end of their strength throw themselves to the ground gasping and rest motionless for hours. those who are seriously ill often die of exhaustion, while others regain their health or get worse."

      Gironiere also had a different version about the origin of the Turumba Festival. He was told that the festival began with an Armenian whose  boat capsized in Laguna de Bay during a storm. The Armenian promised that he would hold a procession in honor of the Blessed Virgin if he reaches the shore safely. He fulfilled his vow and while dancing he shouted "Turumba!, Turumba! " . But this seems an implausible explanation according to Alejandro Roces.1 The story does not account for any of the unique features of the turumba not even the meaning of the word.

Origin of the word "Turumba":

      From what I have read, the word "Turumba" might have ome from two words; One is "turo", which means to point, the other one being "umbay", which is the dirge sung by the invalids or sick.
        But this is just a theory of Alejandro Roces.
1 The truth about the Turumba will be known when the facts about the ritual comes out from the Franciscan Ibero- Oriental Archives in Madrid, Spain.

Edible Virgins:

      "In earlier times cookies were used to commemorate the feast of the saints. It was an important medium of mass communication back then. They were used to project the image of the saints.
          In Pakil, edible virgins survive. Cookies representing the Virgin of Turumba are available during her feasts. They are not shaped with molds or cookie cutters. Instead a cardboard outline of the Virgin is placed on top of the dough, then the figure is cut with a tracer and the details added with a series of of punchers. Pakil's virgin cookies may be the last not only of the edible images but of an edible mass medium. No collection of Philippine religious imagery is complete without these esculent images."
2

      1 Alejandro Roces is the author of the book Fiestas in the Philippines. I found some of the information I wrote about the turumba festival in his book. 

       2 I also got this from Mr. Roces' book.  I think there is no more cookies that are being sold during the Blessed Virgin's feast. 

      




 


site by: vladimir valero
Copyright 2001
Revised: March 07, 2001 .