It's not always rainbows and butterflies, as sung by Adam Levine. Yes, Araña't Baluarte of Gumaca may seem beautiful to the eyes with the smorgasbord of fruits and vegetables and even local pastries and delicacies, bursting in a palette of greens, yellows, reds, indigos, any color you might think of are there. That is, before the patron San Isidro Labrador passes. As soon as he turns his back on the arañas and baluarte... IT'S WAR BABY!
As a tradition, San Isidro passing through baluartes means that; 1. He's pleased and has blessed the produce that decorates the baluartes and arañas;
and 2. these handiwork now belongs to the people, and boy how they assert this right!
Here are some styles that Gumaqueños have developed on how to get what you want in life. Or what you want in the baluartes, in this case...
1. Jump Ball/Rebound Style
This is the most popular and traditional style. Very basic, like what you do in basketball: you aim, you jump, and you grab. Aim, Jump, Grab. Playing dirty ala Jaworski not allowed. Do that, and San Isidro might do something to your talongs and pipino.
2. Akyat-Bahay Gang Style
Vertically challenged like yours truly? This is the right style for you. It's the climb, Miley. (Please tell me you got the joke there.) A bit different from Style 1, what you do is aim, climb, and grab. This has a lot of advantages aside from what I mentioned earlier.
For one, most of us wants to be on top. Yep, The Carpenters is what I hear now. Looking down on creation, and the only explanation I can find...
Also, you can be like a tag team; get a friend, ask him to wait for you below, climb, and just throw to him whatever you plan to cook for dinner. Or whatever salad you want to make.
3. Sneaky Snake Style
A deviation of Style 2, this happens when you've reached a certain point where you need to crawl to get what you want. More buwis buhay that Akyat-Bahay, since it's more difficult to balance. But this is the most fun to watch, in my opinion.
Funnier if they get stuck. That's where San Isidro comes in. Pray, my friend. Pray hard!
4. 20% Discount Style
Yes, these are our beloved Senior Citizens and kids, who are mostly students. Knowing the Filipino culture of high respects to the elderly, and looking at kids as Santo Niño-like and very cute, they get to have special treatments once the arañas come crashing in.
The technique? None, just make sure you look frail or fragile. Like what happens in MRT, bus, and other public transpo vehicles. No disrespect though. =)
5. Buwitre Style
This one I tried this year, and guess what? It works! I got a pipino. Wag ismolin, this one's a biggie!
Since usually the arañas would come crashing down, what you do is act like a buwitre (vulture), scavenge my friend. But of course be a choosy vulture. Fresh and blemish-free only.
These are only a few of the many styles you can employ if you are caught in a Araña't Baluarte crossfire. But do not be afraid; though this might look like war, this is a friendly war. Specially if you're a tourist, you'll be surprised that some might even give you some of their hard-earned fruit or vegetable.
At the end of the day, what's important is the experience of getting into a bloodless war. Where rather than sorrow and hunger, abundance, fun, and smiles emanate through; an authentic Gumaqueño character.