Top? Bottom?

by Evans Yonson

The statues dedicated to the Castellers of Tarragona.

Barcelona – My older brother, Luis, came to Spain recently. He works in a cargo vessel that goes round the world delivering stones, minerals and what-have-you. They docked in Tarragona, a hour-train ride away from Barcelona.

This city traces its history back to the Roman times. As it is port city, it lies in the Mediterranean Sea and offers a very good summer destination for its pristine white sand beaches and the infamous amphitheater that is one UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in this side of the globe. One of the traditions of any Catalan province or city is the castell (Catalan meaning human tower). It is a great scene when the castellers (the people involved in the castell) are able to build at least seven or eight storeys. Several castell schools have earned the distinction of having built a nine-storey castell. This tradition started towards the end of the 18th century in Valls, a town in Tarragona. Since then it has been passed on to the other towns and cities of the Catalan region.

This reminds me of Philippine tradition called bayanihan (the spirit of communal unity or effort to achieve a particular objective). In the olden times, the bayanihan was pictured as helping a household move their nipa hut from one place to another. The moving of the house became a town event, probably a fiesta. Every male citizen volunteers his shoulder to carry the house.  The idea of private property and staying put in one place have contributed to the demise of this tradition. However, the spirit still exists among every Filipino anywhere they maybe. Ready to extend a helping hand. Without the need for anything in return.

When my brother called me up as they were leaving the port of Tarragona, I realized that I have spent more than what I planned to. But looking at the statues of these castellers reminded me of the importance of the brotherhood of man in this thing called life. Sometimes people carry us in their shoulders. Sometimes we carry others, too. The carrying is just the icing. The satisfaction is never superficial. No matter who carries who, the cake is always delicious in the end.