Friday, May 01, 2009

Bato Balani Sa Gugma

The Cross entered the Philippines borne atop the golden globe held by tiny, wooden fist of the image of the Holy Child. The strange Visitor, worshipped as a powerful rain god by the Cebuanos long after Lapu-lapu had chased off the paltry few still left alive of Magellan's crew, was feasted with song and dance-- a tradition that had been firmly entrenched when Spain once set foot in the Philippines nearly five decades after Magellan's world-changing voyage. Bato Balani Sa Gugma is a song of the Cebuanos, one of their most beloved, which they sing with hearts on high whenever the Feast of the Holy Child draws near. The words are difficult to understand, and practically incomprehensible to myself, a Tagalog speaker (Cebuano is much closer to Bahasa than Tagalog is) but the song remains powerful, sublime, divine, nontheless.

1 comment:

Bad Wolf said...

Hi! thanks for this blog post.

Just a rejoinder from a cebuano...

* Bato Balani sa Gugma literally means: "Magnet of Love". It first appeared in the novena to the sto. nino de cebu booklets in 1888 but its origins & composer already forgotten through the centuries.

The song, written in Old Visayan, never fails to bring tears to the thousands of devotees especially when the chorus is sung and the arms and hands are waved as a symbol of total submission to the Child Jesus.

The waving of the arms as a gesture of worship dates back even before the Spanish arrival to the Philippines.

Looking forward to more of your posts.