by Jaime C. Laya and Lulu Tesoro Castaneda
At Lent (known as cuaresma after Spanish usage), church images were shrouded in purple cloth, bells were muffled. Wood clappers replaced the tinkling bells at Mass. The pasyon was sung in churches and homes, retelling in verse the story of man from the creation and paradise to Christ’s passion and death. A senakulo or passion play was performed. People made the rounds of the Stations of the Cross, sometimes at brick structures along the plaza perimeter and the town’s municipal streets, or in lean-to’s and temporary structures erected and decorated for the purpose (these are called kalbaryos).
The Crucifixion was re-enacted in some towns. Flagellants were numerous, flogging themselves bloody with segments of bamboo at the end of rope whips sometimes embedded with glass splinters. In Marinduque, moriones (noting that morion refers to a metal helmet with outside panels in European usage), masked penitents costumed as Roman soldiers, roamed towns during Holy Week. There were elaborate rituals in church from Palm Sunday (the blessing of the palms) through Maundy Thursday (washing of the feet rites), Good Friday (meditations on the Seven Last Words from 12:00 noon to 3 p.m.; reenactment of the burial of Christ) and Easter Sunday (Easter Vigil).
Processions were part of the activities during Holy Week and varied from place to place, but the usual practice was (and still is) a series of processions, including the Holy Eucharist procession held within church premises on Maundy Thursday, an elaborate procession on Holy Tuesday or Wednesday with tableaux representing events of the Passion, a funeral procession on Good Friday with the Dead Christ in a glass funeral coach, followed in some areas with a dramatic procession in silence and at dead of night with the mournful Virgin (Dolorosa) looking for her Son. The Pageantry ended with the Salubong or encounter between the images of the Virgin Mary and the Risen Christ before dawn on Easter Sunday.
Photo taken from the book Cuaresma. Gilda Cordero-Fernando and Fernando N. Zialcita, (eds.). Bookmark, 2000.
Source: Prusisyon: Religious Pageantry in the Philippines. St. Paul’s Press, 1996. pps. 2-3.