Valencia feast opens with a “Lumad” mass

VALENCIA CITY(MindaNews/23 August) — For the first time in the parish’s history, the feast of San Agustin in Valencia City will be opened with a mass in Binukid, the language of the indigenous peoples.

The 5 a.m. mass in Binukid at the San Agustin Chapel will be the first of five masses to be held on the feast day on August 28, parish priest Noel Suarez said.

Suarez told MindaNews this is to pay tribute to the indigenous origins of Valencia City. He said there are prominent clans in Valencia City belonging to the  Bukidnon tribe.

Fr. Cris Aninloy, a Higaonon from Impasug-ong who is now assigned in Valencia, will celebrate the 5 a.m. mass.

Suarez said churchgoers will see some traditional rituals to be held before the mass. In the  offertory, some of those who will offer gifts will be from local Lumad communities in their traditional attire.

Suarez said most of the songs during the mass will also be in Binukid. He said the homily will also be a combination of Cebuano and Binukid. But he admitted it’s too difficult to read the Scriptures in Binukid as most of the churchgoers may not understand it.

Aninloy hosts a weekly radio program dedicated to the Lumads over radio station DXDB dubbed “Datu Impaluguan.”

Suarez said this year’s fiesta is the first after the 2010 elections, hence the theme: “Joyful acceptance and forgiveness, bridge to reconciliation, peace, and progress with the guidance of St. Augustine.”

He said they chose the theme to serve as reminder for reconciliation, especially as citizens were divided along partisan lines.

Suarez said that instead of just celebrating in the town proper, they will involve the parishioners in the villages by touring the image of St. Augustine to nine zones in the tradition of a novena (nine-day) pilgrimage.

He said it is to remind them of the saint’s reconciliation.

“Despite his sinfulness, he reconciled with God and is now one of the doctors of the Catholic Church,” he said.

He said the first Lumad mass, the theme, and their other initiatives this year, are  all towards  what he calls “reconciliation of relationships”.

He said in a progressive city like Valencia, there can be no real development without reconciliation. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)