Marinduque villagers reach out for ‘Tukluhan’
SANTA CRUZ, Marinduque—Every year, residents of an island village in this province hold a thanksgiving rite that is little known among the people of the province, but is gaining recognition as one of Marinduque’s oldest feasts.
In Barangay Polo, while villagers are mostly fishermen, they have kept alive a tradition known as Tukluhan, a ritual in honor of San Isidro de Labrador, patron saint of farmers.
“Tukluhan” means to reach. The feast named after it is held every May 15, the feast day of San Isidro de Labrador who is not, ironically, the village’s patron saint.
The village’s patron saint is San Miguel, whose feast day is celebrated every Sept. 29.
Librada Ricamata, 75, who gathers and sells edible seashells for a living, said villagers can’t remember when and how Tukluhan originated.
“By the time we were born, Tukluhan was already celebrated here,” said Ricamata.
She said the festival has been held since the time of her parents. “The tradition was passed from their generation to ours, and knowing its origin is not our concern anymore,” she said.
Unlike the Pahiyas Festival of Lucban, Quezon, residents of Barangay Polo do not display their harvests or adorn their houses with colorful “kipings” (rice wafer), or farm produce like rice, corn, fruits and vegetables.
Instead, they hang their harvests, like buntings, during the feast along the village streets, or on their fences.
Before sunset, a religious procession in honor of San Isidro is held. As soon as the procession passes by, participants at the end of the line would jump and try to reach for the hanging items along the way, and gather as many as possible.
Aside from fruits and vegetables, villagers also hang chocolates, chips, candies and biscuits. Some even hang money inside fruits or plastic bags.
Pacita Decena, a 58-year-old mother of eight, does not remember how the Tukluhan started. She said she believes, however, that it would endure.
Her children, she said, have shown interest in keeping the tradition alive, and have been very active in preparations for the annual Tukluhan.
The village festival is not known to many people in Marinduque, which has become famous for its other bigger feasts like the Moriones Festival, which is held every Holy Week and features men dressed as Roman centurions.