PNoy CALLS FOR HUMILITY, SACRIFICE

President Aquino yesterday called on the public to be humble and sacrifice for the greater good as he wished everyone a peaceful and significant observance of Holy Week. “Let us not forget that practicing humility, concern for others and rightful acts should not only be done during the Holy Week. Reflections and prayers prepare us for a lifetime of emulating the life of Jesus Christ,” Aquino said in Filipino. He said “Jesus laid down his life to save us” and accepted the punishment and ridicule heaped on him. The President said Jesus Christ’s unconditional love should inspire people to continue to tread the right path. There is always hope for a better tomorrow, Aquino noted, saying this should guide those facing ordeals. He said that with the government pushing for vital reforms in line with its “tuwid na Daan (straight path)” policy, it is inevitable that trials are encountered. He urged the people to be ready to do their share of sacrifice because in the end, all their efforts will bear fruit. At home or Malacañang? Meanwhile, Aquino said he will spend the Lenten season either at their ancestral home in Quezon City or at Malacañang. Aquino said he will likely be accompanied by his sisters in today’s Visita Iglesia, and they will celebrate Easter Sunday together after hearing mass. During Holy Week last year, Aquino stayed at Bahay Pangarap in Malacañang – his official residence since July 2010. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT

(ALSO) Aquino: ‘Doubting Thomases’ now contributing to PH recovery

Seeing is believing. In the case of the Philippines, those who used to question the government are now believers, according to President Benigno Aquino III. Aquino, in his Easter message likened Jesus Christ’s suffering and resurrection to the country’s economic revival. He said Christ’s resurrection allowed mankind to bask in the light, with many people regaining and strengthening their faith. However, there were also others like the apostle Thomas who doubted it. “Gaya po ng landas na piniling tahakin ni Hesukristo, nanindigan at muling bumangon ang ating bayan mula sa malubhang katiwalian at kahirapan,” he said in a five-minute video message released Sunday. (Like the path chosen by Jesus Christ, our nation made a stand and rose again from corruption and poverty.) Aquino then enumerated the achievements of his administration, from the expanding scope of social services, through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program and PhilHealth, and to the thousands of Tesda (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) scholars who have found work in various sectors. He assured that students were receiving quality education while shortages in chairs, books and classrooms have been addressed. The successful signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front was also mentioned as a start of good relations and peace in Mindanao. Aquino said the Transition Commission has already submitted the draft bill creating the new Bangsamoro political entity and that it will soon be sent to Congress for approval. “Ilan lang po ito sa mabubuting balita ng pagbangon ng ating bayan. Nagpapasalamat po tayo sa mga naniwala, at patuloy na naniniwala, gayundin sa mga nagduda noong una, at ngayon ay nakikiambag na sa ating mabuting agenda,” he said.

ALSO: How other faiths observe Holy Week

The annual commemoration of Holy Week—marking the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which begins on Palm Sunday, climaxes on Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday and culminates in the joyful celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection—and its pious customs observed in Roman Catholic tradition also find expression in the mainstream Protestant denominations and evangelical churches. What follows is an informal survey of what Holy Week observances are followed by other faiths. Aglipayan Church- The Aglipayan Church, officially the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), or the Philippine Independent Church, follows the same Holy Week observance as the Roman Catholic Church, according to Rev. Fr. Terry Revollido, rector of the Aglipay Central Theological Seminary. “I don’t see any significant difference because we’re also following biblical narrative,” Revollido said. Like the Roman Catholics, the Aglipayan faithful begin the Holy Week with Palm Sunday. On Maundy Thursday, there would be a celebration of the Eucharist and the washing of the feet while on Good Friday church activities include the Seven Last Words, veneration of the cross and processions. The Easter Vigil mass is held the evening of Black Saturday and the Salubong very early on Easter Sunday.MORE...

ALSO: No noise, partying in Boracay on Good Friday

Bad news for those who expect to party on Good Friday on this resort-island.
The municipal government of Malay, which has territorial jurisdiction over Boracay, has banned loud noise and parties on the resort-island on Good Friday to give Catholics a chance to reflect on the significance of Holy Week. The ban takes effect from 6 a.m. of Good Friday to 6 a.m. of Black Saturday. The policy has been enforced on Boracay for three years now, said Vice Mayor Wilbec Gileto, owner of Club Paraw, one of the busiest bars on station 1 where most parties are conducted. He pointed out that Good Friday is a “solemn day for Catholics that should be respected.” There will also be a procession at the White Beach, a 4-kilometer stretch where most of the bars, resorts and restaurants are located. Gileto said bars and restaurants could still continue operating on Good Friday but they would not be allowed to play loud music. He said police would patrol the island to ensure that the policy is being complied with.
READ MORE...

ALSO: Local Calvary braces for thousands of devotees

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya: The passion, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ come alive again this Holy Week at the scenic Bangan Hill here – the favorite destination of Catholic devotees. Overlooking the capital town, Bangan Hill—or “Mount Calvary” as residents call it—also goes by the name of “Golgotha” just like the fabled hill resembling a skull outside Jerusalem where Christ was crucified more than 2000 years ago. Every year, families flock to this government-protected area to pay homage to their savior, especially on Good Friday. The Bayombong Catholic diocese led by Bishop Ramon Villena is at the forefront of the annual Good Friday spectacle at Bangan Hill. READ MORE...

ALSO: Will the Pasyon survive?

Rochelle Enriquez, 17, has been joining the 'Pabasa' for four years but unlike her contemporaries who do so by belting pop tunes, she prefers to chant it the traditional way. She said the tradition is important because it allows her to show her devotion to Jesus Christ, who offered His life for sinners. “Pabasa allows us to feel the spirit of Jesus, who died for our sins. It allows us to understand how He loves us,” Enriquez, a resident of Angat, Bulacan, said in Filipino. Enriquez said her grandmother convinced her to take part of the tradition in 2010. Not all young people, however, think like Enriquez. In fact, she herself is unsure whether the long-cherished tradition will survive. “I cannot say if it will survive. If you do the chanting by heart, the spirit of the Pabasa will survive. If not, it will die,” she said. At a time when the youth are flattering themselves through selfies and challenging norms through social media, age-old customs that require more than just a short attention span are at risk of fading away. In the case of the Pabasa, some experts believe that the tradition will survive but will evolve into something that can be grasped by young people and the masses. Pasyon a la Celine Dion Rosendo Antonio Diokno, leader of the Secular Franciscan Order in Baliwag, Bulacan, said originally, the pasyon was sung using five tunes. As the years passed, organizers added tunes like 'Sta. Clarang Pinung-Pino' and 'De Colores.' At present, some pabasa participants, especially the young ones, are chanting the verses to the tune of popular songs. In the 90s, a group of chanters used the tune of the Celine Dion hit 'My heart will go on,' shocking devotees who are not used to blending the sacred with the secular. Upbeat versions eventually surfaced like the one sang to the tune of 'Voltes V' and more recently rap Pasyon. Will it survive? Chua believes that Pabasa would survive because of efforts to innovate it. READ FULL REPORT

ALSO: Popular Pinoy Holy Week traditions

The Philippines is predominantly a Roman Catholic nation, tracing its religious roots back to the 1500s when Spain first introduced Christianity to the country. Roughly 80 percent of the population are Roman Catholic, according to latest data by the National Statistical Coordination Board. For Filipino Catholics, Holy Week or “Semana Santa” is one of the most important religious festivities of the year. The lenten season actually starts on Ash Wednesday, when people get ash in the form a cross on their foreheads. It culminates on Good Friday, which commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. And it ends on Easter Sunday to celebrate the risen Lord. There are different traditions observed during Holy Week, and while some of the younger folks may not be as familiar with it anymore, many still devoutly practice these traditions. Thinking of doing some of the rituals this year? Here are some of the most popular Pinoy Holy Week traditions. READ MORE...


Read Full Stories here:

Noy calls for humility, sacrifice

MANILA, APRIL 21, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Delon Porcalla - President Aquino yesterday called on the public to be humble and sacrifice for the greater good as he wished everyone a peaceful and significant observance of Holy Week.

“Let us not forget that practicing humility, concern for others and rightful acts should not only be done during the Holy Week. Reflections and prayers prepare us for a lifetime of emulating the life of Jesus Christ,” Aquino said in Filipino.

He said “Jesus laid down his life to save us” and accepted the punishment and ridicule heaped on him.

The President said Jesus Christ’s unconditional love should inspire people to continue to tread the right path.

There is always hope for a better tomorrow, Aquino noted, saying this should guide those facing ordeals.

He said that with the government pushing for vital reforms in line with its “tuwid na Daan (straight path)” policy, it is inevitable that trials are encountered.

He urged the people to be ready to do their share of sacrifice because in the end, all their efforts will bear fruit.

At home or Malacañang?

Meanwhile, Aquino said he will spend the Lenten season either at their ancestral home in Quezon City or at Malacañang.

Aquino said he will likely be accompanied by his sisters in today’s Visita Iglesia, and they will celebrate Easter Sunday together after hearing mass.

During Holy Week last year, Aquino stayed at Bahay Pangarap in Malacañang – his official residence since July 2010.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Aquino: ‘Doubting Thomases’ now contributing to PH recovery By Kristine Angeli Sabillo INQUIRER.net 11:26 am | Sunday, April 20th, 2014


President Benigno S. Aquino III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Seeing is believing. In the case of the Philippines, those who used to question the government are now believers, according to President Benigno Aquino III.

Aquino, in his Easter message likened Jesus Christ’s suffering and resurrection to the country’s economic revival.
He said Christ’s resurrection allowed mankind to bask in the light, with many people regaining and strengthening their faith. However, there were also others like the apostle Thomas who doubted it.

“Gaya po ng landas na piniling tahakin ni Hesukristo, nanindigan at muling bumangon ang ating bayan mula sa malubhang katiwalian at kahirapan,” he said in a five-minute video message released Sunday.
(Like the path chosen by Jesus Christ, our nation made a stand and rose again from corruption and poverty.)

Aquino then enumerated the achievements of his administration, from the expanding scope of social services, through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program and PhilHealth, and to the thousands of Tesda (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) scholars who have found work in various sectors.

He assured that students were receiving quality education while shortages in chairs, books and classrooms have been addressed.

The successful signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front was also mentioned as a start of good relations and peace in Mindanao. Aquino said the Transition Commission has already submitted the draft bill creating the new Bangsamoro political entity and that it will soon be sent to Congress for approval.

“Ilan lang po ito sa mabubuting balita ng pagbangon ng ating bayan. Nagpapasalamat po tayo sa mga naniwala, at patuloy na naniniwala, gayundin sa mga nagduda noong una, at ngayon ay nakikiambag na sa ating mabuting agenda,” he said.
(These are just some of the good news on our country’s continued recovery. We thank everyone who believed, and continue to believe, and those who first doubted it but are now contributing to our good agenda.)
The President promised to devote the remaining years of his term to strengthening the institution, making accountable corrupt individuals and uplifting the lives of the Filipino people.

He reminded the people of Christ’s challenge to shun evil and live by His example – of doing good, loving, and caring for others.

“Dahil sa ating pagdadamayan, lumiliwanag na ang kinabukasan ng ating bansa. Bilang inyong pinuno, may hangganan po ang ating termino at serbisyo. Tungkulin po nating ipagpatuloy ang ating magandang nasimulan, at gawing permanente ang tinatamasang transpormasyon ng ating lipunan,” Aquino said.
(Because of our cooperation, the future of our country is becoming brighter. As your leader, my term and service has its limitations. But it is our duty to ensure that what we had started will continue, and that the transformation of our society will become permanent.)

Aquino said that as long as people care for each other and let God guide them, the nation will achieve the fulfillment of its prayers and aspirations.

How other faiths observe Holy Week
By Inquirer Research Philippine Daily Inquirer 9:29 pm | Wednesday, April 16th, 2014


Flagellants makes their way to the cross Cutud, San Fernando, Pampanga during Good Friday. RAFFY LERMAN/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

MANILA, Philippines—The annual commemoration of Holy Week—marking the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which begins on Palm Sunday, climaxes on Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday and culminates in the joyful celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection—and its pious customs observed in Roman Catholic tradition also find expression in the mainstream Protestant denominations and evangelical churches. What follows is an informal survey of what Holy Week observances are followed by other faiths.

Aglipayan Church
The Aglipayan Church, officially the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), or the Philippine Independent Church, follows the same Holy Week observance as the Roman Catholic Church, according to Rev. Fr. Terry Revollido, rector of the Aglipay Central Theological Seminary.

“I don’t see any significant difference because we’re also following biblical narrative,” Revollido said.

Like the Roman Catholics, the Aglipayan faithful begin the Holy Week with Palm Sunday. On Maundy Thursday, there would be a celebration of the Eucharist and the washing of the feet while on Good Friday church activities include the Seven Last Words, veneration of the cross and processions. The Easter Vigil mass is held the evening of Black Saturday and the Salubong very early on Easter Sunday.

The Aglipayan Church, which calls itself the national church of the Philippines, proclaimed its break from the Catholic Church in 1902 by the members of the Unión Obrera Democrática Filipina because of the alleged mistreatment of Filipinos by the Spanish clergy. Although a Christian denomination, the IFI rejects the spiritual authority of the Pope and emphasizes patriotism in its teachings.

The members of the church are called Aglipayans after its first supreme head, Fr. Gregorio Aglipay.

Iglesia ni Cristo

The Iglesia Ni Cristo, another homegrown Christian sect, does not observe Lent or mark the special observances and services of Holy Week, as it believes that the pious customs associated with it derive from pagan traditions.

For instance, it believes that Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week commemorating Christ’s triumphal entry to Jerusalem to fulfill his paschal mystery, has pagan origins. The INC says the palm symbolizes victory, and notes how victorious armies of pagan nations decked themselves and their chariots with palm fronds.

According to the INC, the word Easter was derived by St. Bede from Eastre, a forgotten dawn goddess. Numerous local customs held during Easter, such as the blessing of meat, eggs and other foods the partaking of which was formerly forbidden during Lent, have pagan origins, the INC believes.

The INC members believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and that God made Him Lord and Savior. However, while Jesus Christ is holy and a very special man, he is not God, he is the only mediator of man to God, they say.

They also believe that Christ’s resurrection is the main proof that the dead will rise again. Those in Christ will rise first to be with Him forever in the Holy City. Those who are not of Christ will rise a thousand years after the first resurrection to be cast into the lake of fire.

The INC’s main activities include “worship services”, missionary work and edification. Worship services are usually held on Thursdays and Sundays by every local congregation inside the house of worship. It consists singing, prayer and study of God’s words for proper application in daily living.

The members are happy to fulfill their duty to share the faith by inviting others to attend Bible study sessions and worship services. The INC also uses mass media in spreading its message of hope to a broader audience.

For the spiritual welfare of church members, prayer meetings are held weekly by each group of neighboring households for further instructions in the faith and announcements about church projects and activities. Pastoral visits are also conducted regularly by church officials for prayer and spiritual counseling.

The Iglesia Ni Cristo also holds semi-annual (mid-year and year-end) Pasalamat (thanksgiving) as a sign of gratitude for God’s blessings. As with regular worship services, it consists of hymn-singing, prayers and the study of God’s words.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian denomination whose distinct beliefs are based on their interpretations of the Bible, do not observe Christmas, Easter or other holidays and customs observed by mainstream Christianity.

They believe that Jehovah is the only true God, and Jesus, God’s only begotten Son who served as a redeemer and a ransom sacrifice to pay for the sins of humanity as the only intercessor between God and man.

While Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in commemorating the death of Jesus, the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not share many of the beliefs and practices associated with the Holy Week of Catholics and other Christian denominations. The Witnesses do not practice the Lenten rituals of fasting, or pilgrimage to holy places.

The most important and solemn event for the Jehovah’s Witnesses is the “Lord’s Evening Meal” or “Memorial of Christ’s Death,” commemorated on the date of the Jewish Passover.

“After careful reading and study of the Bible, [the Witnesses] found that this is the only anniversary that Jesus commanded his followers to celebrate. Before dying, he commanded his disciples to keep observing the Last Supper, otherwise called Lord’s Evening Meal, once every year. Jesus’ command to celebrate this occasion can be read in the Bible,” said Dean Jacek of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Philippine branch.

To determine the date of the Memorial each year, the Witnesses follow the Jewish calendar.

“Under the Jewish calendar, Jesus’ death occurred on the evening of Nisan 14, 33 C.E. Last year, the date Nisan 14 fell on March 26, so on this date Jehovah’s Witnesses met together in their building for worship (called Kingdom Halls) all around the earth after sundown. To celebrate, they did exactly what Jesus said should be done. Some 20 million attended the occasion,” said Jacek. This year’s Memorial was marked on April 14.

Those attending the Memorial with Jehovah’s Witnesses for the first time will see a functional, clean venue devoid of religious symbols.

“There may be some simple flower arrangements, but attendees will not be distracted by gaudy bunting or any party atmosphere,” Jacek noted.

“A qualified speaker will consider in a clear and dignified manner what the Bible says about the occasion. He will help all to understand the meaning of Jesus’ death. A simple ceremony, imitating what Jesus told his apostles to do, will then follow,” he said.

Seventh-day Adventists

The Seventh-Day Adventist Church, a Protestant Christian denomination, does not observe the practices of the Holy Week as Catholics or other Protestant denominations do. Accepting the Bible as the only source of their beliefs, Adventists only observe the practices and faith of the early Christian church.

The church is distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, as the Sabbath, and its emphasis on the second coming (advent) of Jesus Christ.

Adventists believe that the resurrection of Christ that is commemorated at Easter is a historical event of immense importance. But they point out that the Bible only noted that the resurrection occurred on the first day of the week and did not suggest that the resurrection made a new day holy.

Without biblical precedent for making Easter a special day of celebration, Adventists observe only the Sabbath as sacred or holy time because it is the only holy day of the week stated in the Bible.

“We just celebrate Sabbath day as the Lord’s day,” said Bro. Emer Dayo of Lipa Seventh-day Adventist Elementary School in Batangas province.

“The Bible tells us to observe it from (Friday) sunset to (Saturday) sunset. Sabbath is the test of true obedience to the Lord,” he said.

According to the Adventists’ Biblical Research Institute, however, some Adventists have introduced Sunday morning services during Easter. But this does not mean that Sunday is to be considered as holy. Adventists only see Easter as an opportunity to do evangelical outreach without assigning any special religious meaning to the day itself.

United Church of Christ in the Philippines

The United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), a Protestant Christian denomination, observes the same Holy Week practices as that of Roman Catholicism, according to Lowell Tac-An, executive secretary of the organizational ministry of UCCP.

“We also celebrate Palm Sunday with a special form of worship. Then we also observe Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Black Saturday. There is a reenactment of the Last Supper and we also do the seven last words. Easter Sunday serves as the culmination of the whole Holy Week celebration,” Tac-an said.

“There isn’t much difference because we also follow what’s written in the bible,” he added.

According to Tac-an, one difference between the UCCP with the Roman Catholic Church is the that the formers does not believe in purgatory.

“In the basic protestant doctrines, we also believe in life after death. But there is no belief in purgatory,” he said.

Aside from Holy Week, the UCCP also observes other religious Christian festivities like Christmas and All Soul’s Day.

Tac-an said that the UCCP is divided into seven jurisdictions. Each jurisdiction has their own bishops. The UCCP is led by a head bishop who is elected every four years. (Reports from Almi I. Atienza, Ana Roa, Marielle Medina, Rafael L. Antonio and Kate Pedroso, Inquirer Research)

No noise, partying in Boracay on Good Friday By Karen Bermejo Inquirer Visayas 9:11 pm | Wednesday, April 16th, 2014


TOURISTS enjoy the white sand beach of Boracay INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

BORACAY ISLAND, Philippines—Bad news for those who expect to party on Good Friday on this resort-island.

The municipal government of Malay, which has territorial jurisdiction over Boracay, has banned loud noise and parties on the resort-island on Good Friday to give Catholics a chance to reflect on the significance of Holy Week.

The ban takes effect from 6 a.m. of Good Friday to 6 a.m. of Black Saturday.

The policy has been enforced on Boracay for three years now, said Vice Mayor Wilbec Gileto, owner of Club Paraw, one of the busiest bars on station 1 where most parties are conducted.

He pointed out that Good Friday is a “solemn day for Catholics that should be respected.”

There will also be a procession at the White Beach, a 4-kilometer stretch where most of the bars, resorts and restaurants are located.

Gileto said bars and restaurants could still continue operating on Good Friday but they would not be allowed to play loud music.

He said police would patrol the island to ensure that the policy is being complied with.

Georgen dela Cuesta said he has no objection to the ordinance even if he is a Born Again Christian.

“We should respect the norms of people belonging to a different religion,” said Dela Cuesta, a gym owner.

The policy prohibiting partying from 6 a.m. on Good Friday until 6 a.m. on Black Saturday is based on a municipal resolution, according to Malay Councilor Rowen Aguirre, chair of the council’s committee on laws and regulations.

While there is no punitive provision in the ordinance, the municipal government does not issue permits to events during the period and all establishments are notified of the prohibition.

Violators will also be advised by policemen to turn down or off loud sound systems, according to Aguirre.

Records at the Municipal Tourism Office in Malay showed that at least 17,000 tourists arrived on the island from April 13 to April 15.

But the Department of Tourism in Western Visayas said that its previous data had showed tourism arrival on the island would usually reach 35,000 during the entire Holy Week—from Holy Monday to Easter Sunday.

Senior Supt. Samuel Nacion, Aklan provincial director, said that policemen on the island are on full alert to ensure the security of tourists.

Nacion said at least 100 policemen belonging to the Boracay Tourist Assistance Center have been deployed to the island.

Volunteers and members of other police units are also on the island as backup force for the main police security group there.

FROM THE MANILA TIMES

Local Calvary braces for thousands of devotees April 15, 2014 8:16 pm
by LEANDER C. DOMINGO CORRESPONDENT

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya: The passion, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ come alive again this Holy Week at the scenic Bangan Hill here – the favorite destination of Catholic devotees.

Overlooking the capital town, Bangan Hill—or “Mount Calvary” as residents call it—also goes by the name of “Golgotha” just like the fabled hill resembling a skull outside Jerusalem where Christ was crucified more than 2000 years ago.

Every year, families flock to this government-protected area to pay homage to their savior, especially on Good Friday.

The Bayombong Catholic diocese led by Bishop Ramon Villena is at the forefront of the annual Good Friday spectacle at Bangan Hill.

“My family will visit Bangan Hill which is really a perfect place for meditation. At the same time, we will take this opportunity to renew our faith and strengthen our family bond,” said Andrea Orcales, a resident of Bambang town 15 kilometers away.

Her sentiments are shared by Lorenza Aguinaldo of Solano town who said the hill has the right ambiance for spiritual renewal.

“I can really feel the presence of the Lord there,” she said.

Another favorite meditation site during Lent is Santiago City in Isabela where you will find Dariok Hill in the village of Balintocatoc.

In 2001, the place was transformed into a religious site by the city government under the leadership of Mayor Amelita Navarro.

It has over 80 religious statutes depicting the Last Supper up to Christ’ resurrection and ascension into Heaven in a 50-meter uphill trek.

Up north in Iguig town is Cagayan’s own version of Calvary Hill where oversized statutes depicting the Stations of the Cross attract the Catholic faithful.

Piat town, also in Cagayan, is the site of Our Lady of Piat Church or Nuestra Señora de Piat.

Venerated as Basilica Minore Nuestra Senora de Piat in 1999, the church’s altar houses the 16th century Roman Catholic “miraculous icon” of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

FROM PHILSTAR

Will the Pasyon survive? By Zaphyr Iral, Ronald Mendoza and Alvin Perez (philstar.com) | Updated April 15, 2014 - 3:44pm 2 53 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Rochelle Enriquez, 17, has been joining the 'Pabasa' for four years but unlike her contemporaries who do so by belting pop tunes, she prefers to chant it the traditional way.

She said the tradition is important because it allows her to show her devotion to Jesus Christ, who offered His life for sinners.

“Pabasa allows us to feel the spirit of Jesus, who died for our sins. It allows us to understand how He loves us,” Enriquez, a resident of Angat, Bulacan, said in Filipino.

Enriquez said her grandmother convinced her to take part of the tradition in 2010.

Not all young people, however, think like Enriquez. In fact, she herself is unsure whether the long-cherished tradition will survive.

“I cannot say if it will survive. If you do the chanting by heart, the spirit of the Pabasa will survive. If not, it will die,” she said.

At a time when the youth are flattering themselves through selfies and challenging norms through social media, age-old customs that require more than just a short attention span are at risk of fading away.

In the case of the Pabasa, some experts believe that the tradition will survive but will evolve into something that can be grasped by young people and the masses.

However, views are divided on whether devotees are ready to hear the fusion of the life of Christ and the songs of contemporary performers like Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga.

Centuries-old

The Pabasa ng Pasyon or Pabasa, which started during the Spanish colonial period, involves the chanting of a narrative about Jesus’ death and resurrection.

A Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines News article described Pasyon as “an epic poem in stanzas of five lines of eight syllables.”

Charleston 'Xiao' Chua, assistant professor of history at De La Salle University, noted that the first Pasyon was written by Gaspar Aquino de Belén in 1704.

His work 'Ang Mahal na Pasión ni Jesu Christong Panginoon Natin na Tola (Holy Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Verse)' became a big hit and spawned several versions.

Fr. Mariano Pilapil then created Pasyong Pilapil or Pasyong Henesis, a doctrinal version that is being used by Filipinos today.

Chua said Pilapil’s version is called Pasyong Henesis because it includes a narration of the events in Genesis, the first book of the Bible.

Some scholars believe that the 'Pasyon' also enabled the Filipinos– then colonial subjects of Spain– to relate with the suffering Christ.

“It was not just about commemorating Jesus’ life, but it was there to unite the society,” Chua said.

Citing scholar Reynaldo Ileto, Chua said Christ was likened to the Filipino nation in a sense that it could rise again if it resists colonial rule.

Marathon chanting

The traditional Pabasa lasts for almost a day. Participants gather in the house of the organizer, usually a devotee who had the panata or vow to hold the activity every year.

The pabasa starts with prayers like 'The Lord's Prayer' and 'Hail Mary.' The leader will then talk about the importance of the tradition before the actual singing starts.

Participants stay in front of an altar filled with candles and images of a suffering Jesus, the sorrowful Virgin Mary and saints who witnessed the crucifixion.

Sometimes, the image of the parish patron saint is placed on the altar. However, some organizers place statues that have nothing to do with Holy Week like that of the Infant Jesus.

Some parishes hold marathon Pabasa, as a form of sacrifice. This would require participants to take turns in chanting the Pasyon, which is normally mellow, slow and monotonous.

Readers continue their chanting even if they reach past midnight. The organizer is responsible for feeding the participants until it is finished.

For chanters, it doesn't matter whether one's voice is angelic or similar to galvanized iron sheets being torn. What is important is to perform an annual ritual that strengthens their faith and their bond.

Neighbors do not seem to mind if the silence of the night is pierced by voices of old people amplified by a sound system. After all, the practice reflects communal unity.

Those who do not have anything good to say about their neighbors' voices usually do nothing to stop it. Perhaps they regard the experience as a Lenten sacrifice.

Pasyon a la Celine Dion

Rosendo Antonio Diokno, leader of the Secular Franciscan Order in Baliwag, Bulacan, said originally, the pasyon was sung using five tunes.

As the years passed, organizers added tunes like 'Sta. Clarang Pinung-Pino' and 'De Colores.'

At present, some pabasa participants, especially the young ones, are chanting the verses to the tune of popular songs.

In the 90s, a group of chanters used the tune of the Celine Dion hit 'My heart will go on,' shocking devotees who are not used to blending the sacred with the secular.

Upbeat versions eventually surfaced like the one sang to the tune of 'Voltes V' and more recently rap Pasyon.

Will it survive?

Chua believes that Pabasa would survive because of efforts to innovate it.

“It (present way of chanting) is not the original way of performing the pasyon. The same is true with the way it is being sung. Eventually, readers of pasyon will dwindle but the culture will survive,” he said.

“The tune changes but the meaning is still there.”

Chua said he does not see anything wrong if Pasyon is kept alive using modern technology like the Internet.

Fr. Jose Buenviaje, parish priest of Nuestra Señora dela Paz y Buen Viaje Parish in Quezon City, said Pabasa “has become so deeply rooted in the consciousness of Filipino Catholics.”

He, however, has reservations over efforts to fuse the tradition with modern songs.

The innovations, Buenviaje said, usually came from the masses and young people who are looking for something new.

“They try to come up with something new but sometimes, it’s not good because the essence disappears,” the priest said.

Buenviaje is concerned that those who put emphasis on innovation might lose focus on the message being conveyed by the Pasyon.

“I think it (innovations) will not help. It will become another fad and eventually, you know the cycle of fad, it will surface and eventually die a natural death,” he said.

Buenviaje said educated communities in his parish still prefer the old-fashioned chant which he described as 'melodious' and 'solemn.' He said the traditional way is more conducive in preserving the faith because it is more prayerful and serene.

Gerardo Roxas, former president of the Secular Franciscan Order in Baliwag, is also against the modern way of chanting pasyon, saying pop hits do not jive well with the tradition.

“The tune must be appropriate. The words must be expressed with prayers and reflection,” Roxas, who has been joining pabasas for 22 years, said.

He also frowned at the use of rap in reading verses about the life of Christ.

“It is not appropriate. I’m not in favor of it. It doesn’t seem to be sad. Pasyon is supposed to be sad,” the lay preacher said.

The CBCP has also urged the youth to stick to the traditional pabasa and to avoid turning it into a form of entertainment.

"We should also reflect on the tone and the rhythm," CBCP Episcopal Commission on the Youth Executive Secretary Fr. Conegundo Garganta was quoted by reports as saying.

Roxas admitted though that young people have different interests nowadays.

“To keep it alive, we should teach them and expose them (to the tradition). It can be hard. Times have changed,” he said.

Chua agreed, saying the tradition would survive if the elderly educate the youth about its importance.

He noted that the practice remains very much alive in provinces and in some posh subdivisions.

Those who want the pabasa to live on can take comfort from the fact that some view it not just as a tradition but as an expression of gratitude.

“I will continue the tradition, because God gave His life on the cross,” Enriquez said.

“So what if I offer an hour or two for him? I will allot time for Him. In that way, I can show Him that He is important to me, that I love him.”

FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

iJuander: Popular Pinoy Holy Week traditions April 16, 2014 11:36am


MAKATI RESIDENTS PREPARE FOR HOLY WEEK: Workers on Wednesday, April 16, apply finishing touches on paper mache statues depicting the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ in preparation for the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday stations of the Cross in Poblacion, Makati City. Danny Pata

The Philippines is predominantly a Roman Catholic nation, tracing its religious roots back to the 1500s when Spain first introduced Christianity to the country. Roughly 80 percent of the population are Roman Catholic, according to latest data by the National Statistical Coordination Board.

For Filipino Catholics, Holy Week or “Semana Santa” is one of the most important religious festivities of the year. The lenten season actually starts on Ash Wednesday, when people get ash in the form a cross on their foreheads. It culminates on Good Friday, which commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. And it ends on Easter Sunday to celebrate the risen Lord.

There are different traditions observed during Holy Week, and while some of the younger folks may not be as familiar with it anymore, many still devoutly practice these traditions. Thinking of doing some of the rituals this year? Here are some of the most popular Pinoy Holy Week traditions.

Palm Sunday

Holy Week kicks off with Palm Sunday, the commemoration of Christ’s arrival to Jerusalem for the Passover. According to the Bible, people welcomed Jesus and His disciples by waving large palm leaves.

Today, Filipinos bring palm fronds or palaspas to the Church for blessing. Either before or after the mass, churchgoers wave the palaspas in the air for the priest to bless. After the mass, the palm branches are hung on doors and windows and are believed to ward off evil.

Fasting and abstinence

For the more devout Catholics, fasting is a ritual that requires reducing normal food intake to usually one meal a day. More commonly, others avoid eating meat, especially on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and Fridays within the Lenten season.

Nowadays, some Filipinos observe their own personal way of fasting by choosing one habit that they are willing to give up, as a symbol of sacrifice for Lent. Some decide to give up smoking, while others give up on certain kinds of food.

Pabasa

The traditional pabasa involves chanting or singing the words from the Pasyon, a narrative book of the life, passion, death and resurrection of Christ.

Participants are divided into two groups, chanting lines or stanzas alternately. This is sometimes accompanied by string instruments and can last for three days.

Today, some even throw in melodies of popular songs alternating with the chanting! Older practitioners of the Pasyon who have tried doing this in recent years said they do so to make the pabasa more lively and appealing to the youth.

Thinking of joining a pabasa this Holy Week? Quiapo Church in Manila is holding a traditional pabasa on Holy Week until Wednesday, April 16, at 3 p.m. Saint Jude Church in Manila will also be holding pabasa on Holy Wednesday at 3 p.m.

Washing of the feet

Historically, a host may provide water for travelers to wash their feet before entering the house. The act of washing of others’ feet was considered lowly, done by slaves to guests of a home.

During the Last Supper, Jesus washed the feet of his apostles, as a sign of humility and being of service to others — a recurring message throughout Holy Week.

This act is commemorated during the Holy Thursday mass, when priests wash the feet of 12 churchgoers representing the 12 apostles.

Visita Iglesia

Catholics have a tradition of visiting a number of churches - usually seven - on Holy Thursday or Good Friday. This church visitation is called the Visita Iglesia.

During the Visita Iglesia, churchgoers either recite the Stations of the Cross or pray silently on their own. Others even visit as many as 14 churches to symbolize the 14 stations.

If you’re in the Manila area, be sure to stop by some of these famous churches: Malate Church in Malate, Sta. Ana Church in Pedro Gil Street, Binondo Church in Binondo, San Beda Church in Mendiola, San Sebastian Church in Quiapo, the newly-reopened Manila Cathedral and the historical San Agustin Church, both in Intramuros.

Can’t leave home to do Visita Iglesia? Not to worry! The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has a Semana Santa website that features churches, as well as messages from Pope Francis and other Church leaders.

Stations of the cross

The Stations of the Cross is the scene-by-scene reenactment of the events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. It begins with Jesus being condemned to His death and ends when He is laid in the tomb.

This is done with literally 14 stations found within a church or compound, each depicting a particular scene, where the faithful stop at each to pray and meditate.

Those who participate in Visita Iglesia opt to stop at two stations per church, to maximize their visit to seven churches.

Here are some unique sites for Stations of the Cross: Visit the “Walkway”, which features interactive stations at Fort Bonifacio; or see the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in San Juan, Bulacan, and the Calvary Hill in Tacloban, Leyte – both featuring life-size statues of the stations.

Senakulo

If the Pabasa is a recitation of Jesus Christ’s life and suffering, the senakulo is a dramatization of it.

These colorful plays unfold in installments throughout Holy Week, beginning on Palm Sunday. These plays are performed in different places – on the streets, even in theatrical stages – and draw throngs of tourists to watch.

In San Fernando, Pampanga and in other provinces in the country, performers take the senakulo to a whole other level – an act of repentance for their sins called “penitensiya.”

Some, dressed in costumes, are crucified in public. Others walk the streets under the scorching sun and lash themselves on the back, to the point of bleeding.

The senakulo culminates with a reenactment of the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday.

Salubong

Salubong is a ritual that dramatizes the first meeting of Christ and Mary after His resurrection, and takes place at dawn on Easter Sunday. It is famously celebrated in provinces like Cebu, Camarines Sur and Pampanga.

It begins with two processions, where statues of Christ and Mary are carried from opposite ends of the community. The statue of Mary is covered in a black veil of mourning called lambong.

Eventually, they will meet at midpoint, during which an angel (typically played by a young girl from the community) will lift the veil, ending Mary’s mourning and Holy Week celebrations. — Aimee Dacanay/CM, GMA


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE