Pangasinan is a province on the island of Luzon in the Republic of the Philippines. The province's name means "a land where salt is made" and comes from the province's long history of salt production. The native people of Pangasinan practiced pagan animism, as did many indigenous Filipinos. Spanish conquerors brought the Roman Catholic faith to the Philippines in the late 16th century. The Dominican missionaries succeeded in converting a majority of Pangasinans. The province remains predominantly Roman Catholic and incorporates a strong oral tradition in its religious practices. Pangasinans also show a particular devotion to Our Lady of Manaoag.
Reverance for Saints and Souls
Pangasinans, like Catholics worldwide, honor their dead on All Saints Day, November 1, and All Souls Day, November 2. Dressed in traditional burial clothes and carrying lighted candles, Pangasinan cantore, or singers, stop at neighbor's homes where they receive sweetened rice cakes as rewards for their singing. The cantores may steal a token from the homeowner -- a theft the homeowner lightheartedly blames on a wandering soul. Pangasinans also recite calars, or religious oral narratives, to commemorate these feast days. One All Souls Day calar explains that showing forgiveness to others saves souls from purgatory. Following recitation of a calar, listeners participate in an omameng, or reflective exchange on the meaning of the calar's story.
Christmas and Holy Week
Oral traditions also are an important part of Pangasinan Christmas and Holy Week traditions. The Pangasinan Christmas aligondo, or carol, is made up of 142 quatrains and is believed to be the longest Christmas carol in the Philippines. The song, which relates the story of the Magi, is sung by both men and women and takes about 90 minutes to perform. Holy Week traditions include religious services, processions and the chanting of the "pasyon," or passion. The pasyon is performed over the course of three nights between Holy Wednesday and Good Friday and relates Biblical history from Creation to Jesus's Passion, Resurrection and death.
Reverence for Mary
Pangasinan indigenous beliefs proscribed worship of a supreme deity, Ama Gaoley, which aligned with the Catholic concept of one true God. Dominican missionaries taught the Pangasinans about the Virgin Mary, whom the were able to relate to the goddess mother of Ama Gaoley. The Dominicans consecrated the Pangasinan province to Our Lady of The Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag, and the Pangasinans show deep devotion to her. Almost all homes feature an image of the Virgin Mary of Manaoag and all Pangasinan churches have an altar dedicated to her. The town of Manaoag and its cathedral are considered the Catholic Mecca of Luzon.
Other Religious Celebrations
Pangasinans treasure the image of Christ known as Divino Tesoro of Calasiao and celebrate the image with an annual festival from April 24 to May 2. During the Lenten season, the city of San Carlos hosts a live Stations of the Cross along its main streets. In December, the weeklong Galicayo Festival in Manaoag honors Our Lady of Manaoag and marks the beginning of the Christmas season. A summer holiday particularly popular with children is Santa Cruz de Mayo. Celebrations includes processions and song and the eating of plain cookies called "galletas." This holiday also honors Our Lady of Manaoag.
- National Library of The Philippines: Historical Data Digital Collection: Guides: Pangasinan
- Northern Illinois Univeristy: Center for Southeast Asian Studies: Christianity in the Philippines:
- Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan: Evangelization of Pangasinan
- Footnotes to Philippine History; Renato Perdon
- Province of Pangasinan: Official Website: Manaoag
- Inquirer News: A Dying Tradition of Remembering the Dead
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images