It honors the cimarrones, an indigenous group that opposed colonization during the Spanish period.
In addition, it is also a fiesta of San Rafael Arcangel, the patron saint of the town.
The date may be a special non working holiday through presidential proclamations (such as Proclamation No. 828 in 2019 and Proclamation No. 80 in 2022).
The Cimarrones of Bicol
Christianity spread to the Bicol Region in the latter half of the 16th century. The Augustinians, led by Fr. Alonso Gimenez, accompanied the exploration conducted by Luis Enriquez de Guzman in 1569 in what is now the province of Sorsogon.
Yet Catholicism took much stronger hold when the Franciscan friars arrived in 1578, establishing the churches of Naga, Quipayo, Nabua, and Bula. To avoid conflict between religious orders, the Franciscans were permanently assigned in Bicol throughout the colonial period.
Christianization and colonization, however, were not completely successful in all places. While those in the lowlands were susceptible to conversion, folks living in the mountains were not likely so and they were called monteses (mountain people).
Other people escaped from the flat plains and from the sphere of influence of the Spanish colonizers, and they fled to the mountains. They were called remontados (those who returned to the uplands).
And there were the cimarrones, which is a Spanish word for wild or untamed. They were warriors belonging to an indigenous group living in Mt. Isarog, Siruma, and Camaroan, and they resisted Spanish rule. It is supposed that they were once subjects of the Spaniards who eventually opposed their control.
They lived on farming and hunting as source of food, but they were mostly feared and better known for their destructive raids against lowland communities particularly in eastern Bicol. They also developed minasbad, a bladed weapon that was used for war and for tilling the lands. Their unique martial art is called cimarron arnis.
Eventually, this ethnic minority became Christians and one of the early devotees of Our Lady of Peñafrancia.
Devotion to St. Raphael the Archangel
Christianity reached Pili, Camarines Sur as early as 1770. The old settlement used to be located in Binanauan. It was transferred to present location where a church was erected by the Spaniards in 1819 that was placed under the patronage of St. Raphael the Archangel. Its first parish priest was Fr. Antonio Andres.
How to reach Pili, Camarines Sur
One can book a flight from Manila to Naga Airport or travel by bus from various points of Luzon.
- Cimarrones Festival. Tourism Promotions Board Philippines. Retrieved October 1, 2023
- Pili LGU sponsors free theater arts workshop. Bikol Reporter. December 2010. Retrieved October 1, 2023
- Marilyne Antonette Adiova. Music, Dance, and Negotiations of Identity in the Religious Festivals of Bicol, Philippines. University of Michigan. 2014. Retrieved October 1, 2023
- Perry Gil S. Mallari. The Cimarrones of Bicol. FMA Pulse. April 13, 2010. Retrieved October 1, 2023
- St. Raphael the Archangel Parish. Philippine Stamps. Retrieved October 1, 2023
- Cimarrones Festival. Legislative Digital Resources. Senate of the Philippines. Retrieved October 1, 2023