By Prof. Rolando Borrinaga
Update. (biliranisland.com staff) Tsinelas Party Forever. As per Hon. Gerard Roger Espina, mayoral candidate for the Municipality of Naval, the Tsinelas Party will continue. This to address the rumor that the street party will be abolished if he happens to win. #NavalFiesta2015 #TsinelasParty
Rumors in Naval, Biliran Province are often close to the truth. And so when I heard talks during my trips to the hometown for the recent 155th Pueblo Day and Naval Town Fiesta commemorations that we will probably celebrate the last Tsinelas Party this year, this was a piece of information I could not dismiss outright as false. The phase-out is supposed to become a reality when an unsympathetic new leader will replace Mayor Susan V. Parilla after her third and last term next year.
Started in 2007 along with the transfer of the fiesta to its original October schedule (from January), the Tsinelas Party carries with it a loud and defiant democratic protest statement from native Navalians, who were displaced from the elitist fiesta-related parties of previous non-native officials. The turning point came when the ordinary locals were fenced out with barbed wires during elitist Coronation Night on the eve of the January 2004 fiesta, which was attended by invited heirs of some political dynasties around in the country.
With this context in mind, I attended the Tsinelas Part 2015, my third or fourth in seven years. I noted that, compared to two years ago, the dancing area along Padre Inocentes Street had been extended by some 200 meters eastward to the corner of Garcia Street. There was also a massive crowd in attendance, the biggest in years, which I estimated at around 5,000. An invited disk jockey for the affair posted on Facebook his estimate of 6,000 for the same crowd from his vantage point up the stage. I went home with the family members after midnight, satisfied with what I had witnessed about our people and their guests of all ages feeling united and happy and good about themselves. And I thought the wags were wrong and that the Tsinelas Party would be here to stay.
Unfortunately, news came early the next morning that somebody died during the Tsinelas Party. A person had collapsed at the dancing venue around past 3:00 a.m. and was brought to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival (DOA). The ill-fated reveler was a public high school teacher from Culaba, Biliran. At first, some social media items theorized that electrocution was the possible cause of death, for which blame could have been placed on the organizers. But an autopsy performed by the medico-legal officer of the Philippine National Police, Region VIII, established that the cause was asthma.
Suddenly, I saw an adverse omen of things to come, a signal that the rumor would be realized. So, will this be our last Tsinelas Party? It depends. But certainly, this is something that the multitude of Navalian voters can individually answer for themselves through their votes in May 2016.