“First-Time, Buling-Buling and Lent” by Cristina Castillo

Buling-Buling is that once a year event when we come together as a community on the eve of Lent. It’s something that our parish has been doing for a long time, and I have always read about it and heard about it when I go to mass.

Oddly enough, I have never gone before. When I first became active in San Antonio, I didn’t really feel the need to go. As I grew older, especially in the last few years, I never felt compelled to participate in a presentation, or even just attend as a spectator. I kept giving myself excuses, such as “I won’t find parking” or “I don’t want to feel out of place”, and even “I’ll just go next year.”

This year, though, I was asked by members of the Lectors and Commentator’s Ministry, which I recently joined in February, to participate in their presentation. I wasn’t exactly sure at first, since it would not only mean committing to going to Buling-Buling, but to also commit to the time it would take to prepare for said presentation. In the end, after praying a little, I said yes and gave the next week and a half of practice to this medley dance.

I’ll admit it. I was a little hesitant about the dance at first, mainly because it would be a mix of traditional Filipino folk dancing and the LA walk. There were so many elements to remember… the tilt of the head, the position of our hands, the bend of the hips… And that was before we even took a step. And I got a little flick of fear in my stomach when I realized we would be following the Filipino tradition of dancing with props, a malong in my case. And did I mention that I was the youngest in the group? It was a little intimidating to be dancing with the more senior members of the church, especially with them having performed in Buling-Buling before. I was getting nervous as the practices passed, especially when we only had maybe a full hour of practice with the entire group complete.

The day of the fiesta, our group was in our room, getting ready for our number. We had some little girls with us, and they were getting a little restless. Disney-lover that I am, I started to play “Frozen” music, and they treated Tita Baby (Barba) and me to an impromptu performance, as they danced and sang about snowmen and ice around the room, mimic the actual moves from the movie.

In that moment, I came to realize that maybe I should just have fun and enjoy myself on stage, just like the girls did in the room. I should just enjoy my first Buling-Buling, instead of being nervous about messing up my steps.

And, that’s what happened. I had fun. I did my steps. I moved my hands. I may have made some mistakes, but I had fun. And when it was over, I didn’t want to think about having no more practices with the other ladies. I realized that I enjoyed the process.

And I think that’s what Lent is about. The practice and sacrifice is the Lent, and Buling-Buling is our Easter. We may have stumbled along the way; we may have not had the perfect Easter. But, we learned more about ourselves during the process. And I think I learned a little bit more about myself, especially about just enjoying the final product.

This was my first Buling-Buling, and I don’t think it will be my last. Who knows? Maybe next year will be even better.

Cristina Castillo or “Crissy” is a member of the Youth Ministry and Music Ministry since 2002. Loves coffee, reading books and watching old tv shows.