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Maasin’s Hidden Belen

SLT 1245

December 28 – January 5, 2024

In our modern times, many young Maasinhons have not yet seen, and got inspired, by a hidden Belen uniquely located in a portion of an old ancestral home of the late well-loved and respected Emiliano “Berian” Gaviola at Sitio Tuburan in barangay Tunga-Tunga, Maasin City. The house is just at the corner of national highway and R. Garces street in Tuburan. 
Mano Berian was the son of Macario Gaviola and Valentina Dizon. Valentina had a sister named Gelceria who used to make a Belen which she placed on a small table during Christmas. It was Berian who made human images out of mud as among the Belen’s features of interest.
Legend tells us that one night when Mano Berian was asleep, he dreamed about Saint Joseph who requested him to make a bigger Belen. He replied that he could just not do it because he is still young. That very moment that he rejected the request, suddenly his knees felt great pain and he could no longer walk. In his next dream, Saint Joseph reiterated his request for a bigger Belen and reportedly said, “Ako ra ang mag-igo nimo basta mosugot ka lamang sa akong sugo.” (I’ll take care of you if you grant me my request.”) It was granted and the Belen was born.
Mano Berian’s children and grandchildren could no longer exactly recall when the Belen was established, but that it was gradually furnished with many toys and features of various colors, shapes and designs as years went by. The total value of such attractions must be in millions reckoned from its first year, with the old ones discarded to give space for the new ones.
The Belen had undergone various repairs and renovations through the years. But most memorable, for children far and near, was the rice harvest scene with a live winnower (magtahop) and two harvesters on a duet with mortar and pestle (alho and lusong) to unhusk palay. The action never failed to amuse the viewers especially the children.
In front was a gorilla which roared when its breast was pressed and its green eyes glowed for a threatening look.
Belen is the biblical scene, a depiction of the narrative about the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, particularly during the birth of the holy child in the manger in Bethlehem which came to be celebrated by the whole Christendom in the happiest time of the year, the Christmas season in December.
It will be a treasure if Mano Berians’s Belen is included among Maasin City’s list of cultural come-ons during the Christmas season.

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