Butuan’s Abayan Festival meaning of today

By Nestor Cortes

Butuan Bishop Cosme Almedella gave a new meaning and poignant message to the audience of the early morning mass of last month’s Abayan Festival held at the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) riverside complex.

The kind bishop gave a substantive talk on why today’s Abayan more meaningful and should inspire concrete action from all Butuanons especially those who live the riverside communities and barangays.

This author was touched because what he said was true and eye-opening and challenging to all. I hope the audience composed of local government officials and employees, barangay officers, men and women and the young were touched and agreed to the message as well and do things proactively.

This is what the good bishop said: Today’s Abayan is a call and reminder to be kind to the river of Agusan by respecting and treasuring it at all times. Please no more throwing of all kinds of garbage. Or we do worse than fearing the ancient belief of crocodiles attacking humans in the river.

Ancient people thought that there were crocodiles waiting to attack them so they prayed and asked protection of the blessed Virgin Mary. The Abayan became a highlight celebration in terms of prayer and a form of “thanks giving.” A fluvial parade was held regularly as part of honoring Jesus Christ mover and all the saints.

The meaning of Abayan come from the Butuanon word “abay” or simply “going together hand-in hand.” In other words, it also means supporting each other in spirit and action. A characteristic that is expected to all members of the tribe or community.

Since Butuan today is moderately industrialized or better said as urbanized and ascending for whatever it means, one can expect people within the riverside to throw waste wantonly and carelessly. This is the Philippines, remember?

The bishop’s message of reminder and challenge is very much timely and with a lot of sensibility. I hope our people there, being leaders in their own right listened to it wholeheartedly and go to their respective homes full of inspiration and action. And to all the readers in Butuan in general as well.

Photo courtesy of PIA-Caraga

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