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Issue 559

Dream 65 my Little Dream

Dream 65 my Little Dream Queenie Chow TranslatorRaymond Chow 80% 54 32 , 50,000 30 SAMEWAY ISSUE 559 P. 54 13.4.2018

I recently had the opportunity in observing some of the Holy Week practices in the Philippines, no doubt it was one of the most memorable and thought provoking experience. In a country where Roman Catholics make up of more than 80% of the population, Holy Week is a significant religious occasion for the nation. These Catholic rituals and religious practice are heavily influenced by pre-Hispanic beliefs as a result of the Spaniard’s ruling for over three centuries. The Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday and continues through the week to Black Saturday. During this period, Filipino Catholics reflect upon Jesus Christ's passion, death, and resurrection through various ritual practices. In the province of Pampanga, the rural villages of San Fernando, people honor such occasion by physically reenacting the sufferings of Jesus Christ through the tradition of crucifixion and flagellation. On Good Friday, local participants re-enact Christ’s last hours on the cross by nailing the “Kristos” devotees to the cross with full costume and assigned Bible characters in the play. Flooding the street are also flagellants – “magdarame” – carrying wooden crosses and penitents whipping their own flesh with bamboo lashes called “burilyos”. Many penitents who sign up to play Jesus on the cross annually consider such act as their vow of sacrifice or what they call “panata” (i.e. doing the masochistic act in exchange for making a sick family member better). It is further believed that if the devotee break the vow, God would punish them. The penitents believe that by hurting themselves in imitation of Jesus, their sins would be forgiven — the more painful, the more forgiveness. One of devotees playing Kristos this year is Ruben Enaje, a 54-year-old commercial painter, who had portrayed the role for the 32nd year. His first portrayal of the main Kristo was as a result of thanksgiving to God for saving his life when he experienced a fall while he was painting a tall infrastructure. These extreme acts of devotions have been named by the Catholic Church in the Philippines of “mixing Catholic devotion to folk belief.” Others associate these ritual practices with village superstitions. Whilst these Holy Week rituals have not been recommended by religious leaders in the Philippines, in Asia’s largest Roman Catholic nation, these gory practices have persisted for years. On the other hand, such controversial practice continues to draw huge crowds to this part of the country. The Good Friday spectacle this year had attracted more than 50,000 people to the region. The government also gave budget in celebrating the occasion and assisting local l businesses. Whilst the event is of a solemn tone, there is also a general festive mood where numerous hawkers’ stalls selling food and souvenirs have been set up in catering the needs of a large crowd. Whilst many people in modern cities will opt to use the Holy Week (or Easter) for relaxation over reflection, the Catholic religion and its traditions rituals have no signs of becoming forgotten in the Philippines. The splashes of blood left on the streets of Pampanga from the penitents’ self-flagellation undoubtedly demonstrate the strong devotion to one’s religion. SAMEWAY ISSUE 559 P. 55 13.4.2018

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