This article was written by Zorabelle Fran Uy, a UP Cebu Masscom student, based on interviews by Balbino “Ka Bino”Guerrero of Narcisa Requinto and Barangay captain Fernando “Nanding” Requento of Tagjaguimit, Naga City.A clan in this new city at the southern crossroads of Metro Cebu still carries on a long lost tradition that puts an original twist in the door-to-door Christmas caroling that we know today
Known in Naga City as the Pastores, they are town carolers composed of family members of the Requinto clan who stage the Bible’s narration of the shepherds’ search for the baby Jesus coined Los Pastores.
A poetic morality play and dance, Los Pastores was passed on from one generation to another originating from the Spanish missionaries who introduced Christianity in the early Naga. This act was lived-on by various families performing during Christmas season both by invitation and house-to-house performance.
The Requinto Clan prides itself as one of the original families committed in continuing the practice and has embraced the beliefs associated with Los Pastores.
“Kabilin ang pagtudlo sa Pastores gikan sa akong inahan nga nakat-on sab sa iyang inahan,” said Narcisa Requinto who now teaches pre-teens of the Requinto clan the Pastotes tradition.
Devotees believe that the “Maestra” or “Ang Nagdala” has to complete 12 years of teaching The Pastores or be forever hounded with ailments. The musicians, which include two guitarists, 2 banjo, one tenor, and one bajo player, are all subject to this belief.
Even the children have to be part of the Pastores for three years.
This idea has directed the preservation of the tradition until today’s generation.
Now in her tenth year, Narcisa Requinto continues their family legacy as “Ang Nagdala” who had memorized all the segments of Los Pastores by heart from her mother.
She was a Pastores herself in the 1960s and has trained pre-teen clan members the dance steps that went with hand written script handed down from her elders.
Composed with five continuous segments complete with costumes and props, Los Pastores opens with O Mahal Namong Ginoo, Verso, Sa Portal, Vamos sa Belen, and ends with the farewell song Adyos. Verso is the part when the Pastores sing and dance the verses on the search for the New Born Messiah. Sa Portal graces chants and dances at the door of the Belen while the Vamos sa Belen is an expression of invitation.
Their practices normally start during September while they start heading for the town proper on the 20th of December and end the staging by February.
The Requintos never failed to always render their first performance in the church to implore God for blessings.
Depending on the generosity of the households, Pastores can produce as much as P10,000 in a day.
The sum would be divided equally among the members except for the bajo player who gets his share twice for bajo is a heavy instrument. Performances by invitation pay more.
Today, the Requintos are proud to be part of the upcoming Pastores de Naga Christmas Festival that seeks to place the Pastores tradition at the center of attention now only in Naga City but also in Cebu.,
The Pastores performers are up for new and larger spectators as the festival paves way for grander performances and now enshrined as having preserved for today’s generation Naga’s impressive tradition.