Thursday, January 20, 2005

Aklan’s Ati-atihan and Quiapo’s Sto. Niño festivities

Business Times p.B1
Thursday, January 20, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Aklan’s Ati-atihan and Quiapo’s Sto. Niño festivities

WE were moving toward the Kalibo town plaza, dancing our merry way through a maze of Sto. Niño devotees, Ati-atihan celebrators, vendors, policemen, onlookers, tourists, pickpockets, cars, tricycles and abernano (whatever), when people scampered away in all directions; then, our host, Nancy Uy, received text instructions from her Mommy Nilda Nene Ang not to proceed to the church anymore, but to go back to Queen’s Inn pronto!

We stayed where we were and I asked around for some news. The provincial police chief and his two bodyguards plus an identified young girl were gunned down by still unknown person/s right in front of the municipal hall/police HQ. A number of civilians were wounded. A vendor near the scene said she didn’t know what happened. She heard gunshots; saw people, including policemen, running or hiding from she didn’t know what and she herself hid under her table of goodies.

I am sure you read several versions of the shooting in different newspapers and tabloids the next day. Newspaper dealer Toto Ang said only one version was accurate. One TV newscaster even called it a “massacre.” Of course, he wasn’t there. Mommy Nene and her balik­bayan sister Elma Ang were in front of the church when they heard the shots and took cover between parked cars. It was from Radyo Bombo that they later heard details about what actually happened.

Meantime, the final revelry that should have started as soon as the Mass ended and the drums rolled came to a sudden stop.

The streets were not so crowded anymore. There was even an eerie quiet that enveloped the whole place. People walked cautiously. Children were instantly whis­ked away to safer places. The shooting area was off-limits to ordinary mortals.

Nobody knew what exactly happened especially now that the alleged gunman is dead. No witness has come forward to categorically say that he or she saw what happened.

We were a group of enthusiastic first-time Ati-atihan merry­makers looking forward to nonstop dancing in the streets, shouting, “Viva Sto. Niño,” prodding other dancers, “Hala bira! Puera pasma!” and “Sad­sad!” In our group were honeymooners Gigie and Roddy Peñalosa and balikbayan Virgie David. The whole day and evening of the previous day, Saturday, there was no empty place on the streets to stand.

Then the shooting occurred.

As a precaution, the Ati-atihan parade started earlier at 2 p.m., instead of the usual 4 p.m. Still, there was only half the Saturday crowd. By five, six in the afternoon, the vendors have outnumbered the revelers in the streets. The Ang family and their Aber­nano tribe continued the merrymaking in the palatial house of Baby Ang away from possible harm’s way.

What went wrong with the Ati-atihan feast process? The procession in honor of Sto. Niño in Quiapo, Manila, attracted a surge of devotees in spite of rumored threats and destabilization.

Business Process Mapping authors J. Mike Jacka and Paulette J. Keller claim that for a process to be truly effective, some transformation must occur. “Transformation implies a change to an input. If there is no change, why does the process exist?”

Why do people join the Ati-atihan? The Quiapo procession? The Sinulog in Cebu? The reasons are very personal and not exactly the ones the organizers intend them to be. They are supposed to be religious processes of worshipping, honoring and celebrating Baby Jesus and asking for His intercession for fervent wishes to be granted.

I must confess that I went to Kalibo with no particular religious agenda. For me it was like another fiesta—time to get together with friends and make merry. I had no particular wish to make.

Is the Ati-atihan simply an oral tradition that was passed on from someone, sometime ago and has no religious basis and, therefore, is not a transformational process? We’ve heard of many people “converted” or “healed” after visiting Sto. Niño in Quiapo.

If these are meant to purely lure tourists, local and foreign, let it be or, better yet, enhance the process and make it really spectacular a la Carnival of Rio.

Likewise, do you continue to do certain processes and procedures in your business simply because you have been doing the same thing again and again since time immemorial? These processes are the actual way your business world works. There might be a need to eliminate that process.

What if we do a Balanced Scorecard for these “religious” processes?

(Moje, president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp., designs and facilities programs and initiatives for organization excellence. Her e-mail addy is

No comments: