Obando Fertility Rites

Obando Fertility Rites is a Filipino dance ritual. Every year, during the month of May, to the tune of musical instruments made out of bamboo materials, the men, women and children of Obando, Bulacan, Philippines wear traditional dance costumes to dance on the streets followed by the images of their patron saints San Pascual (St. Paschal), Santa Clara (St. Claire) and Nuestra Señora de Salambao (Our Lady of Salambao), while singing the song Santa Clara Pinung-Pino.

Among the fiesta participants to the fertility dance are foreigners from other towns in the Philippines, most are asking the patron saints for a son or a daughter, a husband or a wife or good fortune. They are all dancing on the streets as a form of a religious procession primarily in order for the spirit of life to enter into the wombs of women. This is the magic and mystery of Obando, Bulacan.

The feast days or dance festivals are held for three consecutive days: May 17 for St. Paschal, May 18 for St. Claire and May 19 for the Our Lady of Salambaw.

The Philippine national hero, José Rizal, mentioned this fertility dance ritual in his 1887 Spanish novel, the Noli Me Tangere (Chapter 6: Captain Tiago).

St. Claire is the oldest patron saint of Obando, Bulacan. She was the first saint to be enshrined at the chapel built by the Franciscan missionaries in Catanghalan, the old name of Obando Town.

During the 18th century, after the founding of Obando, Bulacan as a Spanish Municipality, the Franciscan missionaries built a church. At that time, St. Paschal, or San Pascual Baylon, was introduced to Obando, Bulacan. Like St. Claire, he also became the patron saint of fertility, wealth and abundance. St. Paschal’s surname, Baylon, meant a person who likes dancing, after having been derived from the Spanish word bailar.