FIESTA OF CARIGARA
Early one morning, a fleet of Moro vessels suddenly appeared on the
horizon. A Moro raid! The people fled in terror. Those who did not die at the hands of the sea pirates were carried
off as captives to be held for ransom or sold
as slaves. The old and the sick who were left in the village fell to their knees in prayer. As if in answer, the
sky darkened and a storm broke. Then above the present town site a huge black cloud took the form of a cross. When
cleared the Moro pirates were nowhere in sight. The people fell to their knees again, this time in thanksgiving.
They remembered the cross in the sky, and decided to build their town on the spot over which it had appeared - at the
mouth of Kalgara River.
From that time on, the Holy Cross became the object of veneration and devotion at the annual fiesta of Carigara.
Jesuit missionaries led by Fr. Chirino left Manila in the middle of
June 1595. They took the Panay route and sailed for Leyte. They landed on the shores
of Carigara in the morning of July 16, 1595, the same day on which the Triumph of the Holy Cross was celebrated in
Spain. On the beach, Fr. Chirino and his brother priests said mass and Brother Garay received communion.
After the mass, Fr. Chirino and his companions erected a cross to
mark the day and the place of their historic landing. They then walked to the town proper where encomendero, Cristobal
de Trujillo, along with the townspeople welcomed the missionaries with great festivity
and rejoicing. This was the first celebration of the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross in Carigara and in Leyte.
In the time that Fr. Chirino was in Carigara, he noted two admirable
1) the hospitality of the people; and
2) the price of rice never varied,
whether the harvest was good or bad. While Cristobal de Trujillo was having a house constructed for the Jesuits,
the missionaries stayed with him and used a chapel left by the Augustinians as their temporary church. As Fr. Chirino's
instruction was to select a suitable mission site, he left three of his companions in Carigara to study Visayan
and start catechism classes while he and brother priest, Fr. Pereira, sailed east and south to find a second site.
When Fr. Chirino returned to Carigara around the end
of July, he found his companions occupying the house the people had built for them.
After his victories, which he partly attributed to the
miraculous power of the Cross, Constantine became a committed Christian.
When his capital city, Constantinople, was inaugurated on May 11, 330,
he dedicated it to the holy Trinity and to the Mother of God. The Santacruzan procession in May features a Reyna Elena
and a Constantino to immortalize Empress Helena and Emperor Constantine.
The Holy Cross miraculously appeared again in 1212 during the battle
of Tolosa in Spain where Christians overcame their Mohammedan foes. It is said that the battle was won because the
Holy Cross appeared in the sky lifting the morale of the Spanish soldiers.
Today, the Triumph of the Holy Cross is celebrated annually on the
16th of July by the townspeople of Carigara. The date commemorates the arrival of the Jesuits in Carigara on July
In behalf of our beloved parish priests,
Parayno, and Fr Anthony Mendoza, and all of the Carigaranos residing in Texas
and New Mexico, we extend our sincerest welcome
to all of the Cariganos who are here today. This is indeed a special occasion for it is the first time
that our Fiesta honoring the Holy Cross is being celebrated in this part of the US. As Carigaranos, we always remember
to honor and venerate our Holy Cross since the founding of our town and continue to practice our religious customs
and tradition wherever we are. It is indeed a tribute to our Catholic
background and upbringing that we get together today from all parts of the US and Canada, to participate in this
annual affair. Here in Texas, we are blessed with warm weather, the presence of our own Filipino church and a picturesque city
a prime city for Fiesta celebrations.
We wish to welcome and to thank Fr Ernest Palaming and Fr Ric Saldito,
who have graciously accepted to concelebrate our mass with Fr Martin Parayno and partake of our hospitality. We
also want to thank
the Santo Nino Choir for participating in this joyful occasion, lending their sweet music and helping in the kitchen.
To Mrs Irene Wright who helped decorate the Carrosas and the altar, our eternal gratitude.
Let us not forget that this is a religious celebration and our feasts,
and merrymaking are only secondary. May everyone enjoy and have a good time.
H. Jaceldo MD