Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Time of Processions

 The heavy smell of smoke from the ancient censers began to waft through the crowds of people as the sounds of prayer begin to echo from the sun-cracked lips of the people, joining the smoke that rises up from their own candles, swirling up to the heavens. The adobe rocks of their centuries-old church begin to bathe in the golden sun, a silent witness to this offering of the devout. In the dying sunlight of the remote town of Cavinti, at the foothills of the fabled mount Banahaw: home to the mystics of old, a ceremony begins. This is the Holy Wednesday procession.

All throughout the archipelago, the faithful members of the Catholic Church join this yearly procession on the eve of the Lenten triduum, the apex of the Lenten season where the faithful commemorates the passion and death of Jesus. In Cavinti, however, the town faces a much more challenging approach in showing their faith. The town’s streets are all inclined, some of the roads tilting to as much as by 45 degrees. With each “carroza” weighing as much as your average car, the devotees assigned to push the images all face the inevitable difficulty of doing their duty.

Kaya naman, may kahirapan lang pagdating sa may matataas na kalsada” (I could handle it, It just gets harder when the roads get higher) says one of the faithful. According to him, he has been doing his duty for years now ever since he was a kid. The task was much harder in the past, with most of the roads extremely damaged by constant use by vehicles, motorized and animal-drawn, passing between the farms to the markets in the nearby lowland cities of Quezon and Laguna. 

The whole procession passes through most of the town. After the hour-long procession, owners of the images generously give the people food and water after the ceremony, a simple reward for their hardship. Owners of the images have taken care of their respective images for centuries, as a form of thanksgiving and a sign of devotion. In some cases, the images have been passed on from generation to generation, a family tradition of taking care of the images much like how some families take care of heirlooms. Thievery, however, has started to become a problem with some families. Much like in olden times, these family images depicting scenes from the Bible are also made wear finery and jewels that are considered to be priceless as a sort of show of gratitude for favors received. One certain image, the Nazareno (Nazarene), an image depicting Christ carrying the cross, used to wear a crown of thorns made of silver. As the owner recounts, the crown was stolen after a procession, much to the anger of the caretakers who have always taken much care of their heirloom. A crown of thorns fashioned from barbed wire was all the image could don for the Wednesday procession. 

A hundred kilometers away or so from the town of Cavinti, another town sets the stage for the Lenten Triduum. 

One of the mother towns of Tayabas (now Quezon), Gumaca is one of the oldest settlements in the region, even in the entire country as some people suggest, having been a proper settlement even before the arrival of Spanish conquistadors. A good distance from the metropolis, the town serves as a gateway to Bicolandia. Once a walled town like its sister, Intramuros, the town still holds mementos of its days as part of the empire of the Spain; the kastilyo (castle), acannon-armed fortress facing Lamon Bay reminiscent of days when pirates still threatened the coastal towns of the Philippines. What was once a massive wall that sealed off the town from the outside has now since been leveled, serving its current purpose as a promenade where people could ride bikes and cool off under the shade of the trees.  

A short walk from the Kastilyo sits the Cathedral of San Diego de Alcala, the seat of the Diocese of Gumaca. There, against the backdrop of the Narra trees and the walls made of coral, images ready for the Good Friday procession wear their best attires for the evening, in contrast with the solemn black dress of Mary grieving her son’s death on the cross. Like a funeral itself attended by the whole town in the silence of the twilight, accompanied by sung prayers and the music of a violin, people walk alongside the glass coffin of the dead Christ as he is sent off to His final resting place, the Church, waiting for His time to reign triumphant once more.Some choose to stay, however, to spend the night sing the Pabasa, a book sung like a hymn. The Pabasa tells of the Bible story, from Adam  and the Garden of Eden culminating with Jesus’ Passion, Death, and Resurrection. 

The sad tone of the evening of Good Friday gives way to the joyous songs of the midnight of Easter Sunday.

What starts with a procession ends with a procession. With only candles as their light in the dead darkness of the night, the faithful, each separated to their respective groups, walk together in the century-old practice of the Salubong. The womenfolk join the image of Mary as she rounds the town in her mourning veil. Gleeful in white, children dressed in white and wearing wings sing about Mary as they remove her veil, rejoicing over Mary meeting her resurrected Son. 

A procession of a different kind, however, follows Easter Sunday.
The processions of old are now echoed in the streets by cars. Along with the rush of devotees coming to local pilgrimage sites such as the Kamay ni Hesus (Hand of Jesus) shrine comes the exodus of the people from the metropolis, back to return to their homes or to retreat to the beaches far south – and back to the cities as Monday approaches once more.

For some, the ancient wooden and ivory statues serve as a link, human to the divine, to others a reminder of a simpler time, when houses of old lined up the streets, lit up by candles and torches as the procession passes by – of times long gone when the sound of the church bells commanded the pattern of the day to day life, a time of processions.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Piliquela: Quezon Province's First Film Fest

The Piliquela Film Festival is organized by the Quezon Province Heritage Council Inc., a non-government organization that focuses on the heritage of the province of Quezon. Held last March 18-20 at the Governor's Mansion in Lucena, the film fest features the works of the prominent directors of the province. The festival opened with the film "Ibong Adarna" by Vicente Salumbides. who was a grand man in the history of Philippine Cinema. The film was the first Tagalog film to ever have color sequences, with the film using watercolor painting for scenes that involve the Ibong Adarna. 

Ibong Adarna was released in October 1941. Salumbides also wrote a book on Philippine cinema which is now considered an important contribution to documenting the history of cinema here in the Philippines.

The opening night of the film festival was graced by several lawmakers, actors, and directors from the towns of Quezon. An interesting part of the ceremony was the Tagayan, a practice said to be done to welcome guests and important people. In attendance also were representatives from the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts, the local government bodies of Quezon, among many others. The festival was praised for honoring and promoting the artistry of the Quezonians.

SOUTH BIKE is open to your comments, suggestions, corrections, and other related material.
SOUTH BIKE owns all rights to pictures, videos, and other related media published on this blog unless stated otherwise

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Palm Sunday 2016

San Martin De Porres Parish, the second mother parish of Bacoor

Most Holy Rosary Parish, Rosario, Cavite

Our Lady of Pillar Parish, Imus, Cavite

Bulacan:Jump in! (Part Two)

Jump in!

Jump in to this extraordinary world of adventure!

The second part of the Lakad Pamana - San Rafael Tour is the Malangaan Spring and Cave. A popular cooling place for the locals, the blue-green pristine pool is surrounded by massive rocks that serve as a jump-off point for the daring.

Even the kids would jump in. 

The spring is surrounded by nipa huts that serve as cottages. A cottage costs 150 Pesos each. Shops selling local delicacies such as the Halo-Halo (highly recommended) abound in the area. Karaoke machines, a common thing in most resorts, are also available for rent in the area. 

For those with an unquenchable thirst for adventure, a short walk from the area is a trail leading to the cave and the nearby mountains. 

Who would suspect that this paradise is just hours away from the bustling metropolis?

 The place is full of incredibly fascinating formations. The local fauna also is worth the sweat. Taking plants, however, is discouraged. Local guides abound in the area and is probably better than having a guide with you, so as to support the folk who live in the area whose only means of earning money is through tours in the area. Flashlights are provided but it is best to bring extras with you.

Some of the mountains, however, succumbed to the demands of man. The scars of quarrying are still visible in most of them.

One only needs good imagination to come up with interesting names for the formations.  The trek is fairly easy but taking using a pair of good shoes is best when attempting this trek. Bring a bottle or two of water also, some parts of the trail are exposed to the harsh beating of the sun's heat. But the heat and the tiring trek is worth it. Once you finish squeezing in through caves and rocks, one is rewarded with an amazing view of the mountains of Bulacan (and its nearby provinces) and make you feel like a true wanderer. 

SOUTH BIKE is open to your comments, suggestions, corrections, and other related material.
SOUTH BIKE owns all rights to pictures, videos, and other related media published on this blog unless stated otherwise.

Bulacan: An adventure just waiting for you (Part One)

The Bustos Rubber Dam

Our first unofficial stop for the Lakad Pamana San Rafael Tour was the rubber dam. Once serving the lowlands, the rubber dam has since fell into disrepair and is now full of water hyacinths and other water plants. Fisherfolk in the towns of Bustos and San Rafael (on opposite banks of the river) both use the higher water for fishing and the muddy lower part as their footbridge. 

Arki's Tambayan. the tour's official caterer, served as delicious native breakfast at the makeshift park built right beside the dam (on the San Rafael side). It seems that the towns of Bulacan is a crowd favorite for bikers from the nearby metropolis too. Several bikers popped up, crossing the dam while we ate breakfast.

In the distance, the old residents started singing the age-old traditional Pabasa. Interestingly, however, they used a tune that was not familiar to my ears unlike the usual tunes of the Pabasa used by those in Manila and its south-lying provinces. 

Our next stop is the San Rafael Church, an age-old structure that was witness to one of the bloodiest battles in the Revolution of 1896. Said to be like the last stand of Alamo, the residents keep telling the tale of how a thousand men from both sides of the battle, Spanish and Filipino, died on the once pristine floor of the church and showered the walls of this hallowed ground with their blood. 

No wonder this church was hailed as one of the most haunted places in the country. 

The town takes pride in its place in history. Besides being the site of the Battle of Sane Rafael, some events and people in the town are said to be the inspiration behind some of the characters of what is one of the most influential pieces of literature in the country's history, the Noli Me Tangere, by Jose Rizal, which was one of the books that awakened the feelings of the nation, said to have been read by no other than Andres Bonifacio, the first president of the Republic and the prime mover of the revolution.

It is said that the hand mark, coming from the real-life Crispin (a character in Noli Me Tangere), still stains the walls of the convent, along with his blood. In the story, Crispin was whipped and beaten to death inside the church convent. Beside the hand mark, a well right beside this well was said to be where his body was thrown after he succumbed to the lashing.

More horror fuel for you.

But besides all of this, the San Rafael Museum is home to an interesting collection of antiquities and objects that relate to the town's industry and history, from farm tools to religious literature. One exhibit features garments and metalwork which were commonly used during pre-Vatican II masses. Latin missals were also present, alongside with prayer books and records from the offices of San Rafael's Parish. The church and the museum is open to the public for free but it is advised to donate to the church, for its maintenance. 

SOUTH BIKE is open to your comments, suggestions, corrections, and other related material.
SOUTH BIKE owns all rights to pictures, videos, and other related media published on this blog unless stated otherwise.