Holy week in the Philippines

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Sunday, March 29, 2015


PASYON -- There is a post by my friend Robby Tantingco of the Holy Angel University's Center for Kapampangan in his Facebook account inviting those interested to witness Monday, that is today March 30, 'the revival the socialist version of the pasyon first published in 1935.'

With the permission of Robby, I want to quote word for word what he posted.

It said the publication 'was banned for its subversive and anti-clerical lyrics. The Kapampangans in the countryside continued chanting it under the guise of traditional pabasa as a ploy to avoid detection by government agents.'

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SPANISH REGIME -- Few years ago I travelled to Spain and toured some of its cities. After Madrid I fell in love with Toledo City, which is only few hours by bus from the city of Madrid. I was awed by the magnificence of their churches. The Spaniards are deeply religious people, but history showed they mistreated us during their occupation of the Philippines and denying us Christ's teachings.

A little bit of history on Catholic religion. It was St. James who evangelized Spain, and the Spaniards brought Christianity to our country in 1521. But it is said that ' the Spanish kept out of reach the bible for 300 years to the Filipinos. So our ancestors collected and put together the bits and pieces of the scriptures they heard during the mass and created the pasyon.' It was considered then as the bible of the local folks.

MALELDO -- In my youth, weeks before the Holy Week, the people in almost every sitio of each barrio built a makeshift of a shelter with a small altar in it, and the pasyon willl be alternately chanted.

Some stores are lined up and the local maidens and their visitors from other provinces sold short snacks, finger food and even liquor. Dashing Romeos (in Pampango, ding tatso barrio) spent hours in these tiendas making their pitches to the pretty tinderas. (There were no cellphones yet during those years and it was a no no for women to wear jeans). Those with private vehicles hopped from one town to another and did some sort of pilgrimage. The towns people were kind enough to offer even dinner (papagnasi la). But most often it was ice cream made from the kalapaniera with biscuits that was served. Those were the days.

TOURISM -- Barangay Cutud in the City of San Fernando every Good Friday morphed into a sleepy village into a tourist destination and draws not only the locals but foreign visitors as well. What was supposed to be a solemn religious commemoration, it is now a tourism spectacle.

People troop to Barangay Lourdes Northwest in Angeles City on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and witness hundreds of flagellants doing the yearly ritual of self-atonement by beating themselves and others carrying crosses. This tradition will live on.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on March 30, 2015.

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