In 1999, I had the opportunity to live with the Hanonoo Mangyans of Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro as part of my course in Theology.
Together with two interns, we stayed in the Mangyan village from April 19 to May 4. My previous post “Learning with the Mangyans” provides some details of that internship.
On April 29, Amâ Anghel invited us to his farm way up the mountains. He guided us to Sitio Lumboy, an hour’s walk from Sitio Amaga.
He wanted us to witness the worship gathering of born-again Mangyans.
Arriving there, I saw a very unique way of celebrating the Lord’s Supper.
The congregation sat on the bamboo floor. There were no chairs nor benches.
As the pastor was speaking in their native language, I discerned that they were preparing to celebrate the Lord’s Supper based on the hymn they were singing.
I was very quizzical upon seeing a Mangyan deacon walked around the congregation with a branch full of leaves. It was a branch of a Mango tree.
Then I saw them distribute pieces of “Marie” biscuits.
In the Mangyan language, I gathered that the pastor instructed the members to get one and wait till each one has a biscuit for they will eat together. The pastor read a Bible passage and together they ate the biscuit.
The pastor bade everyone to be silent while he prayed.
Then the two deacons went around again, each carrying a pitcher of water.
For a moment, I thought the people will eat the Mango leaves to represent the cup. I was naively wrong.
As they went around, each member scooped water from the pitcher using the leaves that they formed skillfully into a dipping cone.
After everyone had a drink from the “cup” they sang the hymn “Break Thou the Bread” in the Mangyan dialect.
As they sang, the deacons gathered back the used leaves and offered them on the altar.
This is one ingenious celebration of the Last Supper that I will never forget.
And every commemoration of this event, I always remember the Mangyans who are celebrating in their own native way.