WHILE you’re reading this, presumably over froccino and choco chip cookies, school children elsewhere in the province are being made up in the image and likeness of mermaids and fairies and ogres in a bucolic dream of placing their barangay in the self-conscious map called tourism. We’re becoming an island of festivals and all you care about is your coffee getting cold!

My editor told me that my readers are people like you, up-and-about guys who storm the mall on Sundays, scan the society pages and be seen. Well, for once, I’ve decided to be of service to you and let you in on what’s going on outside of Starbucks.

Don’t you know that half of the province has finally found street dancing its reason for being? And that the other half is now scouring hills and Japanese tunnels for a shrub exotic enough to go with the word ‘festival’? One town now chants, “Kamoteng kahoy, katumanan sa ‘mong pangandoy,” or something like that. Another town says, “Damn why haven’t we thought of that?”

As we speak, a mayor somewhere is actually contemplating a festival extolling the virtues of the lowly kamunggay. Before you’re done with this scrambling, a town’s future shall have been sealed with this mantra, “Kamunggay, kamunggay, sustansyang ginagmay.” That green leafy thing of many an impoverished childhood is bound to be more famous and in-demand than mangoes and nurses this country is sending abroad.

Since religious elements need to be thrown in, the mayor knows that finding a link between kamunggay and the town’s patron saint is necessary for the festival’s charm. “Hey, look! Those spots on the saint’s robe, don’t they resemble kamunggay leaves? Oh my God, at first we thought they were bird droppings.”

All the other festivals in the world should be put to shame for their indulgence in food, drinks and sex. The cariocas of Rio de Janeiro want to drown themselves in sin so they can have something huge to repent during Lent right after the riotous dancing. Sydney is nothing but gay solidarity. New Orleans, Grenada and rest of the Caribbean, what are they without mambo, rumba and samba?

Here in our exotic island, festivals are a vehicle for social change. Our children rave it up to the beat of the drum loud enough to drown the noise an empty stomach makes. Local government units and private institutions spend thousands for costumes because they pity those urchins going to school without uniform.

We are blessed with leaders and well-offs who make it their ministry to teach our students history without having to build libraries, or donate reading materials to the children.

Three steps forward, one step backward, move to the right, move to the left, turn around and shout Viva! My dear reader, that’s the way to celebrate.