When we were still in college, a group of peps once went on a trip to Minalin, Pampanga. If we’re not mistaken, it was during a town fiesta when the late Jimmy Borja invited Dado Dizon, Lito Parungo, Mario Mercado, Didi Espiritu and Eric Macatangay to go with him and stay at his aunt’s place for a couple of days.
What we did there exactly is now vague, but we are 100-percent sure that no one there mentioned anything about “Aguman Sanduk”, a unique event that we found out about just recently.
Aguman Sanduk is an annual activity where straight men, young and old, don women’s clothes and parade through the streets, to the delight of their townmates and an increasing number of tourists from all over. Held in the afternoon of January 1, this festivity has also seen the participation of politicians and even … priests!
We learned about this 75-year-old tradition from Kamaru, an interesting blog that highlights the rich cultural and literary heritage of the province of Pampanga. Writing about the Aguman Sanduk, blog owner Jason Paul Laxamana has this to say:
The tradition started in 1934 when a group of Minalin men, drinking beer in front of the old municipal hall, thought of a way to end the holiday season with a bang. They cooked lelut manuk (chicken porridge), then dared each other to do the ultimate no-no among Kapampangan men: wear a dress and parade in the street. Someone put a pillow under his shirt and feigned pregnancy, another played a midwife and another an anxious husband; they mounted a gareta (carriage) and the show was on!
When it was over in the evening, they did what Kapampangans of yore did best: perform crissotan (verbal jousts where poets composed witty verses on the spot). They also elected the first Aguman queen, Hilarion Serrano, who was described as the pekamatsura (ugliest), maragul atian (pot-bellied) and delanan ane lupa (literally, termite-ravaged face, or pock-marked). (Click here to read the full article.)
Jason is also executive producer of the documentary film “Ding Musa ning Minalin” (The Muses of Minalin), which shows footage of this year’s Aguman Sanduk.
You can watch the film here:
By the way, did you know that Nitz Mercado’s family also hails from Minalin? And that, aside from her and Jimmy, there are also other peps who trace their roots to Pampanga? Here they are: Dado Dizon (Guagua), Lito (Lubao), June Lapira (Mabalacat), Mel Abas (Sta. Rita), and Remy Tuazon (San Fernando).
We will ask these classmates to organize a visit to Minalin this January for us to witness this merrymaking, which we’re sure happens onli in da Pilipins.