Fort Pilar

Fort Pilar is a structure in Zamboanga City, Philippines built by the Spaniards around 16th century. The eastern side of it was converted into a shrine with an image of the Lady of the Pillar placed on top. This place never fails to fascinate me. Every day, myriad of people drop by to visit the place and pay homage to Our Lady of the Pillar. Some hear mass, some say a little prayer then go and some offer candles in exchange for petitions or favors.  But its the way the candle vendors do their business that is most interesting.

I didnt quite get it the very first time I heard and saw these candle vendors do the trading. Mio! mio! mio! That was what these vendors are shouting every now and then. Mio! mio! Then one of the vendor will approach a customer and sell his or her ware with the rest of the vendors remaining seated on their posts. That made me wondered. How come the vendors dont flock whenever a customer is about the buy candles? How come whenever there is a customer, only one person will nonchalantly stand up and bring her candles to the customer?

Later, i found out about the system they employ in determining their customers. The first vendor who shouts mio! will get the customer. So, whenever a prospective client is fast approaching, the first person to shout mio! will get it! Since these vendors are positioned on one side of the left-side gate of the shrine, everybody has the equal chance of seeing a coming customer since they have the same line of vision. Fair enough!

Whenever I visit the shrine, these mio! chants in various pitch always make me smile. Now I remember! The scene from FINDING NEMO! The pelican(?) birds…

Mine! Mine! Mine!


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