During the early years of my childhood we had no radio or TV or movies. To celebrate the town fiesta, which was held on Washington’s Birthday, February 20th, the townsfolk of the eastside area of Bangued (TAGADAYDAYA) organized a colorful, action-packed show called MORO MORO (ISLAM-ISLAM).
It is a program that lasted a week, every night of which the people, especially young kids like me, enjoyed very much. The show featured the constant war between the Christians and the Moslems called MORO in the Philippines.
A script writer of the show was the late grandpa of a Fina family called Anckuan BA (Juengay) because he spoke and acted like a woman (bakla).
The rehearsal for the program held at night lasted for a month. It was held near our house in a vacant lot close to Pat’s house. We did not miss the rehearsals, which were often very funny and amusing for new actors being trained to act and speak like officers, soldiers, kings, queens, princes, and princesses, and the fully applauded BOLBOL LAGOO, or clown!
Rich people in the province provided the colorful costumes of the actors and actresses, donating money for musicians, lights, and decorations. The rich families of Abra were the VALERA families, PAREDES families, BAÑES families, Purugganan families, Villamos families, Pe Benito families, Borbon families, Banla families, and Benedito families.
Bleachers made of bamboo were erected in the plaza around the Kioske. Men, women, and children attended the show up to midnight.
Whenever my brother and I wanted to join our father and mother in the crowd, we just waited for the loud, familiar cough of Father, EHEM! EHEM!, booming out from the noise of the place. Then we could easily locate the place where he and Mother were watching the show.
Most of the participants were the young men and women of the East, including the old folks who acted as kings and emperors, queens and empresses. It was a great honor to be a part of the show.
When Jojo became Miss Red Feather Philippines in 1970, two original Princesses who became Catholic nuns, Mg. Ipang and Mg. Jacios Bayaboa, relatives of ours, visited us in Manila after their vacation in Bangued. They made this remark: MAKITAM, TAGA DAYDAYA LAENG TI CANAYON NGA MANGITANTAN-0C TI ABRA. (“You are, always the eastern people are, the ones who bring pride to Abra), recalling the days when they were the PRINCESA and MORA characters of our moro moro.
They were our Catholic teachers in Catechism during summer vacations. Yet when I showed them the part of the Bible which says that effeminates can’t enter the kingdom of heaven, they were greatly surprised and confessed they never realized that, which shows their ignorance about the Bible.
It was only the priests who owned or could read a Bible then, up to my graduation from high school in 1935. I only found out in 1942 when I read a Bible as a Prisoner of War in Capas Concentration Camp that Proverbs were a part of the Bible.
I used to clip verses of Proverbs from a HINIGAYNON newsletter thrown into the waste basket, without being read, by Gen. Pandino Santos, and posted the clippings on the pages of a notebook. That was ‘way back in 1936 when I was a Private, P.C.
Going back to Moro-Moro show, it always ended with the victory of Christians over Moslems by means of a miracle; either by an angel, or a superman, or with lions and tigers helping the Christians defeat the arrogant, aggressive, proud Moros.
The most exciting part of the show was when the two forces fought each other with swords and spears. We would be cheering the Christians as they gradually overcame the initially more powerful moros.
That part was called IMBAJADA or invasion by the moros of a Christian country, as Espania by moros from Turkia.
Everybody was observing as the fighting went on with flashing swords and spears.
I noticed the coughing of my father, EHEM, EHEM, more often as the excitement heightened!