Happy Easter!

'Aleluya' in Bulusan

Happy Easter!

Tristan, the lead angel singer of the Aleluya choir in Bulusan exudes radiance and happiness after a shining performance in the early dawn ‘Salubong’ event to celebrate Easter Sunday. It is simply referred to as Aleluya in Bulusan.

Photographs by Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines


Good Friday in Bulusan in the age of Instagram


Bulusan Good Friday in the age of Instagram

The times are changing fast in my rural hometown. While some events and traditions remain unchanged and so too the icons representing it, the advances in technology leap by miles yearly. The century-old Santo entierro icon for instance posed a stark contrast to the modern gadgets of  the younger set of the parishioners of  Bulusan who were capturing the last moments of the image after a long Good Friday procession around the Poblacion.

Photos by Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

Santa Marta, an exquisite gem

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It was a joy to watch Santa Marta in the procession the afternoon of Domingo de Ramos and the recent Mierkoles Santo (Holy Wednesday). Every detail was in the right places– the gown (of high couture), the accessories and the iconic symbol of every santa (grapes or bread for Santa Marta). My neighbor’s grandson  is doing a splendid job in taking care of the Sta Marta I have known since I was a little girl from our neighborhood. The face is still the same etched in my middle-aged memory. She  never ages. She is timeless. She is more radiant now with the artist touch of the current carer.

Santa Marta will always be part of my Holy Week memories. After all, she ‘lives’ in  the same block as my own in Poblacion Central, just a house away. She comes ‘alive’ in full regalia once a year during the Kamahalan, Holy Week in Bulusan to join the other santos and santas in the Holy Week processions.

Santa Marta of Bulusan

Santa Marta at the Saint James the Greater Parish Church in Bulusan, Holy Week 2013.

Photographs by Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

Hosana angels after the singing chores

Hosana angelsHosana angels after the singing chores

At rest under the shade of a tree, two ‘hosana’ choir girls were a bit surprise and shy with the attention they’re getting from a shutterbug (me). These charming hosana angels still make the Sunday surroundings so bright even after the hectic Palm Sunday activities–singing ‘hosana’ songs with a choir composed of young girls and boys around the Poblacions at early dawn.  The singing chores seemed a breeze judging at their  fresh morning faces. They were like moving dainty white flowers in the church grounds.

Domingo de Ramos or Palm Sunday is simply referred to as ‘Hosana’ in Bulusan.

Photographs by Alma P. Gamil

Saint James the Greater Parish grounds, Bulusan, Sorsogon


Leaf Art

Leaf Art

An elderly woman from Kapangihan (San Francisco), Bulusan was beside me this morning mass of Palm Sunday standing near the entrance of our church, Saint James the Greater Parish. I immediately noticed her bouquet of meticulously woven palm leaves. The weaving technique is a complex form of braiding that differs from the common palm frond ‘palaspas’ traditionally brought to the church during Palm Sunday celebrations.

The ornate weaving of the coconut leaves created into a beautiful offering  that is so rich in texture and pattern evokes deep devotion from the hands that prepared the  palm frond arrangement for blessings. This is another example of an indigenous leaf art form from Bulusan purposely done for devotional expressions in religious events.

It is a kind of visual prayer so eloquent and touching, the skill and creativity of the artisan translated into an art work  to show his/her deep faith expresses more fluency than just merely mumbling the prayers.


Photographs by Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

Moon in High Noon

Moon in High Noon

Bulusan Volcano and the daylight moon

The volcano (Bulusan) and the moon in broad daylight complement each other in the vast blue clear sky panorama as viewed in the azotea vantage point of my residence in Poblacion Central. The light white bubble-like moon seems to float from a soft whistle blow of the volcano in a still life pose.

Photo by Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

Braiding rainbows in Odikin

Braiding rainbows Braiding Rainbows Braiding rainbows Braiding Rainbows

After our amazing walk among the giant Pili trees in Odikin, a quaint  mountain village in Bulusan, we were offered refreshing drinks in the modest home of Oya Choleng. In the adjacent living room of Mabel, her daughter, Jomabel her grand daughter was busy watching TV while braiding colorful strips of buri palm leaves.

It was just like seeing her braiding long stretches of miniature rainbows! So wonderful, I sighed. It Added more points to the magical realism of  an already marvelous trek to the Pili Kingdom of Bulusan.

Photographs by Alma P. Gamil

Santa Barbara (Odikin), Bulusan, Sorsogon


Following Inggo Part 2: In Weaving, ‘Things end as they begin’

Bobo fish trap weaving

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Weaving to the finished

The slide show is the continuation of the post –Following Inggo. These visual images are products of my fragmented visits to Inggo’s place in Dancalan, a coastal village of Bulusan.

My visits were made in the afternoons when Inggo was on his  break time from the sea. He usually spends the time in between shifts of his morning and afternoon sea forays weaving the bobo fish traps and viewing his favorite TV program—Discovery Channel. He likes the show he told me in our dialect in his usual animated mood (while demonstrating how to weave) because most of the settings were outdoors, nature, the sea and the vast oceans which he loved most. Then following a question afterwards, he  asked me seriously:  Is your work similar to those nature shows on the said TV program? Of which, I told him that this is a personal research for the fish trap weaving in our home town. This kind of weaving is slowly vanishing and needs documentation, I explained. Understanding my purpose,  he told me that the young ones are not interested for such weaving—too cumbersome for them. The synthetic nylon and iron wire are replacing the natural materials of the fish traps because it is easier to make and there is no need for the weaver to do the job, related Inggo. From this I surmised that in reality the bobo fish trap weavers are indeed becoming a vanishing breed in my hometown. For instance, in this village Inggo is the sole weaver serving other fishermen’s needs for these fish traps.

It must be noted that in Bulusan though proud of its weaving tradition, bobo fish trap weaving is traditionally a man’s area while weaving  hats and mats are traditionally for women.

An afterthought on the fish trap weaving

Weaving the bobo fish trap in Bulusan is a journey from the upland to the lowland to the seas. I t is a merging of the natural material of the bamban plant with the weaver transforming its split stems to trap fishes for  his food in accordance with the elements of nature and the sea as manifested in one evident flow of an orderly system of things. It represents a natural flow of man and nature co-existing with each other in harmony. It magnifies the inter-relatedness of nature, man and the things around him. Both the inanimate and the animate.  It signifies that man himself is part of the Great Web that is in a continuous flow of recurring cycles ‘within the net of life and time’.

The weaving process itself has a definite beginning and end.  Each step with names of its own repeated from generation to generation in a dance of eternal return.

Images by Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

A Stick Insect Taught Me How To Dance

There is no doubt that these creatures (stick insect also known as walking stick) are excellent mimic, copying exactly the twig it perches on and resembling the natural twigs of the plant it presently resides in to protect them from predators.

I concluded however that it has more to its arsenal than just mimicking a twig. This fantastic visitor of my azotea potted garden showed me how to dance!

Well, at first that was my impression. Rhythmic forward and backward rocking movements that can easily be matched with  the latest dance tunes!

Further search however led me to an explanation of  these movements. It says that this is actually another form of mimicry– mimicking the swaying of the branch while a light gentle wind is blowing.

There is more fun with nature!
Video by Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines