Hannah A. Papasin
The Lenten Season holds two memories for me.
One, it was during a Good Friday procession when my best friend told me she was pregnant – and she’s not sure if her mother would be particularly thrilled given that she was barely out of college.
Second, one not-so-wise cousin told not-so-bright nine-year-old moi that I shouldn’t misbehave during Black Saturday because Christ was dead and there was nobody to forgive my soul. That means that I would have to move my plans on committing bloody murder in Easter Sunday.
I’ve learned two things after that. One is that the Procesion de Santo Entierro provides a perfect opportunity to spill your deepest, darkest and most embarrassing secrets without people getting any wiser. The only thing you need to do is to murmur so that your voice is low enough and soft enough to pass as a prayer (“No, I’m NOT talking; I’m praying!”).
Second is that my grown-up cousin would not be winning Bible quizzes anytime soon.
My dismal lack of participation as a member of the Catholic faith has also inevitably led to an utter lack of relevant memories come Holy Week. The only things I can acutely remember were the unsightly and painful blisters on my feet after walking a torturous 80-kilometers (or at least that’s what it seemed to me) by way of the Procesion de Santo Entierro.
That, and the constant threat of hypoglycaemia as I inevitably try to punish myself by fasting (hey, beats nailing yourself to the cross in my book!).
Still, that didn’t stop me this time from joining not just one but two processions – one from the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and the other from the Catholic Church.
And boy, synapses in my brain suddenly formed new memories and confirmed things that I had suspected all along.
I have taken the trouble of listing them down.
And here they are:
▪ The Aglipayan Church and the Catholic Church had a very brief semblance of unity when their respective processional marches somehow converged along Lacson Street but somehow the Catholic procession decided to go on a more roundabout way, as though there was an attempt to get away from the Aglipayan Church as far as possible. Hey, can’t we get along? Even just this once? I mean, the only difference that I can see between the two Churches is that at least the IFI’s priests can also be called “fathers” in a literal sense.
▪ Pop culture has permeated in all corners, even the catechism of the really young. A young mother carrying an toddler who was just learning to speak was correcting her young ‘un.
The kid was pointing to a statue of Jesus Christ, the one where He had just been stripped and crowned with thorns and the little one was saying, “Papa, papa!” Don’t ask me. Maybe his Papa really does sport a beard, has a crown of thorns and walks naked around the house with only a loincloth to cover his, um, dignity. Anyway, the young mother corrected her son, “That’s not Papa! That’s Bro.” Ohkay, Santino… moving on…
▪ You can tell the wealth of a diocese by counting the number of pasos. This year, there seemed to be more and more of them. The quality ranges from the very simple – a single statue, say, of Veronica wiping the face of Jesus and discovering that the face of the Savior was somehow miraculously photocopied onto the cloth she was using – to the very elaborate, like the depiction of Jesus being presented before the Sanhedrin. Which could also mean that the Church has really, really rich donors.
▪ The more elaborate the carroza is, the richer the donor usually is (or maybe, his/her soul needs a little more cleansing than usual).
▪ Wasn’t Pontius Pilate an old dodger who looks more like an old Marlon Brando? And not even The Godfather-stage Marlon Brando but the Island of Dr Morreau Marlon Brando. Well, the one I saw was a Streetcar of Desire Marlon Brando – or at least, that is what Pontius Pilate looks like in one of the pasos.
“I didn’t know Pontius Pilate was hot,” a girl beside me said, voicing my thoughts. Come to think of it. This “hot” Pontius Pilate has blond hair and (I suspect) blue eyes, you know, the usual Renaissance depiction for angels by racist painters. In fact, sans the golden robe and the laurel leaves on “Pilate”, the depiction looks disconcertingly similar to the Garden of Gethsemane scene. I smell a pasos recycler.
Well, there you have it. Could have been more, you know, except my legs are really hurting now (part of the Lenten sacrifice) and I am now feeling the first signs of hypoglycaemia (or maybe I’m just dizzy from hunger).
At least, when somebody asks me if I joined the procession, I can readily say yes.
And hey, I even have the blisters to show for it!