How did Obando Church come to be known as the place where childless couples go to perform a fertility dance in the hopes of getting pregnant?
My Pope digs up the answer to that and other interesting facts about this popular place of worship just 10 miles north of Manila.
The church has an official name.
Everybody calls it Obando Church, as it is located in the second-class municipality named after Francisco José de Ovando y Solís Rol de La Cerda, Governor of Chile and Governor-General of the Philippines during the 1700s.
Its official name, though, is Parish of San Pascual Baylon and Diocesan Shrine of Nuestra Señora Inmaculada Concepcion de Salambao, in reference to the town’s three patron saints: St. Pascual Baylon, St. Clare of Assisi, and Our Lady of Salambao. The church was founded and built by the Franciscan order in 1754.
The fertility dance was actually a pre-Christian ritual.
Before the coming of the Spaniards, townsfolk observed a celebration called kasilonawan. Part of the celebration included performing a fertility dance to honor three Tagalog deities: goddess of love Diyan Masalanta, goddess of fertility Lakapati; and supreme god Bathala. The dance was particularly important to women who were considered of low stature if they could not conceive.
Spanish conquest saw natives convert to Christianity, thus shelving this and other pagan rituals.
The Obando church now recognizes the practice.
In 1972, the ban on the dance was lifted by parish priest Rev. Fr. Rome R. Fernandez and the Commission on Culture. Since then, pilgrims from all over the country troop to Obando to participate in the event that happens after Mass on the mornings of May 17 (the feast of St. Pascual Baylon), May 18 (the feast of St. Clare of Assisi), and May 19 (the feast of Our Lady of Salambao) and in the form of a joyous procession complete with music, singing, and of course, dancing.
There is a particular way to dance the fertility dance.
Apparently, you just don’t bust a move. The dance involves particular footwork that resembles the side-to-side steps of a waltz, as well as graceful arm movements. While there, you can follow in the lead of pilgrims, or practice by watching videos of the dance on YouTube. It’s easy to get caught up in the festive atmosphere, so don’t forget to say your special intentions as you dance!
Yes, the fertility dance works!
The internet is filled with stories and testimonials of couples who struggled with infertility for years, until they joined the procession at Obando.
“There’s no scientific explanation, but it’s faith. That’s it,” said Marlon Oronea to CNN. He and his wife Khristine went to Obando after trying to have a child for seven years.
And look at what faith can do! After 12 years of trying to get pregnant with her second child, Loraine Aguila found out that she and her husband were expecting one month after they joined the procession. “The mere fact that there are so many people who come is a testament that they’ve been helped,” Loraine told CNN.