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-by Gilda Cabrales del Pilar




September 2, 2004

San Francisco, California - The Katbaloganons of Northern California celebrated the 35th Feast of St. Bartholomew, the Apostle, on August 28, 2004 at the Church and Social Hall of St. Anne of the Sunset in San Francisco, California.

The family of Mrs. Preciosa Congé-Agaton, specifically her grandson, Che Agaton Reid, son of Marilyn and Clifford Reid, and husband and wife Larry and Marilou Farrell, were the sponsors, the hermanos and hermana of this fiesta celebration.

The fiesta kaadlawan was preceded by a nine-day novena which was held at the Holy Angel Parish in Daly City where the Rev. Father Vic Balagapo is Assistant Pastor. Each novena was sponsored by a group of Katbalogans who are members of the community in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The sponsorship of this 35th fiesta celebration by the family of Mrs. Agaton is traced back to the first fiesta celebration in 1969 when she and her husband, Henry, were the first hermano and hermana of the feast of St. Bartholomew in San Francisco.  Since then, the fiesta celebration has been unbroken.  Every year the feast day is observed in San Francisco.

The Katbaloganon Male Choir, organized in 1992, and one of the enduring legacies of the late Mrs. Naty Villarin Silva Padul aside from the “Rigodon de Honor”, performed during the mass. The repertoire was a combination of songs and hymns in Samarnon Binisaya, Pilipino, and English.  Easily, the favorite of the churchgoers and the choir is “Ikaw”.  Many Samarnon oldtimers had tears in their eyes while listening to the song.  The conductress was Concessa Picson.  The pianist was Lily Anne Perez  who was accompanied by a violinist from Catbalogan, Mr. Cinco. This choir was the pride of Catbalogan.. It has sung during the visits of Church dignitaries such as the Bishop of Calbayog.  It has sung during the fiestas of the Taclobanons and the Calbiganons. 

Until five or six years ago, the Katbaloganons in Northern California was easily one of the best Samarnon hometown associations in Northern California.  They had an organization that managed the non-religious activities of the community. The first President of the Katbaloganons of Northern California was Mr. Nario del Rosario.  It hibernated during the kaleidoscopic presidency of Mr. Anselmo Revelo and Mrs. Coring Ygat-Segado.  It is still hibernating up to this time.

During the presidency of Mr. Chito Moreno, the Association was even registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) charitable and religious organization.  This was a difficult task. Not many Filipino organizations in America are accorded a non-profit charitable or religious status.

From 1969 up to is demise, the Katbaloganon Association of Northern California, aside from observing the annual fiesta celebration, undertook some civic activities for Catbalogan and to observe some holidays in America:  picnics and Easter Egg hunts, caroling during Christmas to raise funds for its projects in Catbalogan, group discussions on the situation in Catbalogan and Samar, a scholarship program for two in SSPC which ended miserably, medical equipment to the provincial hospital in Catbalogan, a fire-fighting equipment to the Catbalogan Municipal Government, assistance to homeless children, funds for the home for the aged, donations of prizes to cultural and other activities in Catbalogan and Samar, publication of “The Foghorn of Maqueda Bay”, and pure and simple drinking parties among the Katbaloganon Guzzlers Club, mahjong sessions and even card games among the elite of the community.

The mass was concelebrated by the Rev. Fathers Vic Balagapo, Ed Dura, Willie Manrique, and Tony Petilla.  Fr. Petilla delivered the homily where he compared Catbalogan and Samar to some Biblical places in Ancient times.

In an article by Samarnon historian and environmentalist Charo Nabong Cabardo entitled “Catbalogan Through the Years” published in “Halad” on August 20, 1994 in San Francisco, St. Bartholomew was installed as the Patron Saint of the Katbaloganons in 1795 by Fr. Felix Carreon because Catbalogan is a fishing community. Since then, the Katbaloganon fiesta has been celebrated all over the world, and not only in San Francisco. Being deeply religious, and unquestioned believers in St. Bartholomew, the Patron Saint of the poor, malnourished, and ignorant, and hopeless fishermen in Catbalogan, the fiesta is also celebrated in Los Angeles, in Chicago, in Canada, in New York where the fiesta is sometimes celebrated in 5-star hotels, in Indiana, and of course, in Metro Manila and in Catbalogan itself.

The Katbaloganons in Los Angeles have been giving some Christmas gifts to poor inhabitants of several barangays in Catbalogan.

The Katbaloganons are a very religious people. They are firm adherents of Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical, “Populorum Progressio”.  Along this line, Mrs. Preciosa Agaton confided to this writer that she and her family will share a little of their good fortune in America with their fellow believers in Catbalogan in honor of St. Bartholomew who was tied to a cross and turned upside down, skinned alive, and then beheaded.  She did not elaborate.






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