Salibanda marks the end of the long
Christmas season, to celebrate Christ's infancy and growth into manhood, and His baptism.
It is also a festival of Paete's fishermen. Held in early January, it features the statue
of a standing Holy Child patterned after the celebrated "Santo Niņo de
Cebu." (The original Santo Niņo de Cebu was a gift in 1521 from the mad Queen
Juana of Spain, Reina Juana la Loca, grandmother of King Philip II, after whom the
Philippines was named).
While Santo Niņo celebrations are held everywhere else in the Philippines, Paete Salibanda is unique in that it starts as a fluvial parade on the lake, then continues on as a rowdy procession-dance snaking up and down the narrow streets while participants and spectators alike splash water on one another.
Legend has it that once, an image of the Santo Nino was found floating about in Laguna de Bay. Paete fishermen tried to lift it out of the water, but it was so heavy that the group of men could not load it into their bangka. Then they began to chant and to rock the boat rhythmically. Miraculously, the image became light. It was brought to shore and carried in a procession all over town. To this day, Salibanda gathers a huge crowd of revelers to Paete.
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