|It was a bright and beautiful Sunday. The sun shone brightly amidst a cerulean sky, the birds have never twittered more sweetly, the wind was right, and the weather couldn't have been anything short of perfect.
Surrounded by nature, the priest raised the Holy Host in an act of Consecrationa014pag-bayaw, as it was known. No sooner had the priest lowered what he held than a bukidnon, a native, blinded by anger, skewered the priest and put an end on the latter's life.
One act done and one life lost that beautiful Sunday has now been immortalized by one word, which at the same time has become the name of that pristine placea Bayawan.
For the Spanish conquistadors, Bayawan was a real challenge in their conquest for gold, glory, and more so to spread word about their God. Bayawan was among the few places that greeted Christianity with a profound skepticism and such resistance that indeed, the Spaniards concluded, if they could conquer Bayawan, they could very well conquer any place they desired.
Predominantly agricultural, Bayawan is known for its infinite fertile plains that have become the source for palay, rice and tons of it. Palay has not only become the staple food of the Filipinos but, whenever the grains ripen, ever speckle of the sky would be covered by the maya.
Destructive by nature, the typical Bayawanon farmer finds the maya a threat to his crops and since he can't spend the remainder of his time watching over the fields, tall, lifeless sentinels stand guard.
Made of long wooden poles, tree branches for claw-like hands, a few props to make the monster look more human, the tawo-tawo or scarecrow assured the farmer of an abundant, maya-free harvest.
What was once an agricultural strategy has now become part of the Bayawanon's rich culture. Starting in the 70's, the residents of Hacienda San Ramon would gather to celebrate a good harvest. It was a celebration complete with a parade of all rice-field denizens as the tawo-tawo, the carabaos, the maya birds, the farmers, and the threshers. Empty tin cans and bamboo clappers provided for the music.
Bayawan greatly credits its prosperity and being the rice bowl of the province to its lanky guardians and each year, during the Tawo-Tawo Festival, the costumes and the choreography just get better and better.
Celebrated every 17th of February, a day before Sto. Tomas de Villanueva's big bash, the Tawo-Tawo Festival isn't simply about street dancing and music-making. In fact, prizes are given out to anyone who could make the largest tawo-tawo.
Who ever knew such silent figures could make so much noise?