The national festival of Manito Ocueño

The national festival of Manito Ocueño

Austin Hess 2020-11-11 07:28:18

The National Festival of Manito Ocueño is a folkloric celebration that takes place the second week of August in the town of Ocu, Province of Herrera. This festival owes its name to "Manito" (small hand) which is a word that represents fraternity between brothers, a representative gesture of locals or ocueños, who usually say hello with the hand and mention "Ta'la Manito" (here’s the hand). Ocu is considered the reservoir and guardian of the oldest folkloric traditions of Panama, such as the Mejorana dances, an autochthonous poetic-musical genre accompanied by the unique Mejorana guitar.

This event collects much of the idiosyncrasies of Ocu’s inhabitants. The farmer of the post-colonial times had a very own way of carrying out his activities that were inherited from the Spaniards. These customs were collected and are remembered each year during the Manito Festival. The celebration was conceived by a group of local teachers who saw the need of formalizing those festivals that were held in Ocu since the time when Panama was still attached to Colombia. Since August 1967, these festivities were officially celebrated after the beginning of the Republic of Panama.

One of the most typical and authentic folkloric representations is the famous "Duel of the Tamarindo". During these festive activities that take place in the towns of Santa Rosa or San Sebastian, farmers come down from their communities to the party with the intention of solving some pending issues or participate in random fights. Any reason can be used to start a dispute; sometimes it is for the love of a woman, land or simply because the blanket on the peasant’s shoulder which he wears to shelter from the cold is stepped by someone during the festivities, this act becomes a sign of confrontation. As a result, the farmer would use his saber or machete and the fight will begin.

This festival is undoubtedly one of the most important folkloric celebrations in the country, preserving the prestige gained from the effort, tenacity and commitment of the creators and those who have followed them in this amazing task, becoming an important reservoir of Panama’s cultural roots.

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