Monday, March 17, 2008

Holy Week came early this year. I never could figure out when Holy Week will be. For a predominantly Catholic country, Holy Week here starts on Ash Wednesday, then Palm Sunday then Holy Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Black Saturday and finally Easter Sunday.

The Filipinos are a people with a conviction for traditions and superstitions. Holy Week is a good example of the traditions faithfully followed year after year by some Pinoys. Here are some traditions that I saw practiced in my hometown, Taytay, Rizal.

Buying of ready-made palaspas on Palm Sunday. Catholic Churches are teeming with faithfuls wanting their "palaspas" blessed by the priest. The "blessed palaspas" will then be displayed on the outside wall of houses to be taken down and refurbished on next year's Palm Sunday.

Different street associations start to build Altars for pasyon or the seemingly pentatonic singing of the Passion of Christ. These altars or alta , as we call them in Taytay, have microphones for their cantoras and cantors. Food was always available at the back of the alta for the pasyon readers. When we were teenagers (and know nothing better) my friends and I used to sing at altas for free food. We were not happy with the pentatonic whining so we occasionally used Earth Wind and Fire tunes to the consternation of the oldies there. Imagine singing the passion to the catchy tune of EWF's September.

In the neighboring town of Cainta, the senakulo would be in full blast every night. The Passion of Christ is dramatized on a stage built near the Catholic church and the Town Hall. The production runs until Maundy Thursday night then the finale will be the following day, Good Friday. At 7:00 am that day, Pontius Pilate, with Claudia, will be on a chariot going all around Cainta and Taytay while occasionally washing his hands:an act symbolical of Pontius Pilate's alleged innocence in the crucifixion verdict he gave Jesus Christ.

Behind Pilate's chariot would be Barabas, and Hestas(?) I actually do not know the name of the other thief. I just got the Hestas name from Donya Delilah of the defunct John and Marsha Show. (Hudas!, Barabas!, Hestas!) Now these two thieves would be tied up on logs slung across their shoulders. Only the person acting as Jesus Christ would be carrying a real-heavy-wooden-cross. Since the cross is heavy and the actor JC literally whipped by the "Romans and Jews" there would be about 4 to 5 alternates for the part of Jesus Christ. As these players act out on the streets, envelopes are given out to houses along the route for donations. I never got to see the ending of this senakulo. I guess the troupe never got to crucify the actor acting as Jesus Christ.

Flagellants are everywhere on Good Friday. They cover their heads, slash their backs, lie on broken glasses, pour alcohol on their wounds, then whip themselves silly. At around 3 :00 pm, one is not allowed to laugh, talk loud or even take a bath. As Ka Choleng and Ka Celing say, patay na Amba. Amba is the term used by Taytay-nians for the statue of the dead Christ.

At 5:00 pm the faithful go to the Catholic church to attend the funeral of the dead Jesus Christ. The funeral is an amazing site. Thousands attend the funeral while hundreds pull the cart of the Amba. You can smell and feel the sweat of the faithfuls as they pass. The funeral procession takes from 3 to 4 hours from end to finish. At the very end of the procession are the flagellants doing their last bout of scourging. I have heard some of these penitents actually say that after their penitensya all their sins will be forgiven and they can enjoy another year of "sinning".

I do not practice any traditions as I serve a risen Savior and He lives within my heart.
Posted by desperateblogger On 3/17/2008 07:43:00 PM 1 comment

1 comment:

  1. we also have holy week rituals/habits, yet it was sad that since we're just a sub-parish, all of the the programs will be held in the main parish. ugh. guess i will just be home for the holy week.


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