Snippets from Bulusan Semana Santa 2014 (2): Pasion Bicol in Bulusan

Bicol Pasion in Bulusan In the house where the Santo Intierro ‘resides’, traditional singers of the Pasyon tirelessly chant Christ’s passion  in the standard Bicol dialect/language from Maundy Thursday to the morning of Good Friday of the Kamahalan, Holy Week in Bulusan. This particular Pasyon is annually held at the residence of the caretaker of the Santo Intierro while waiting for the Viernes Santo (Good Friday) when the Santo Intierro, Hinulid for the locals, takes center stage for the major procession of the Holy Week. Pasyon in Bulusan Santo Intierro in Bulusan Vigil Candles for Santo Intierro Santo Intierro in Bulusan Feet of Santo Intierro Santo IntierroPasyon or Pabasa is described by the NCCA (National Commission for Culture and the Arts) as: “The traditional Lenten season chanting of Christ’s passion might last up to nine days, but paced to be read out by Holy Friday. Singing a capella – or sometimes accompanied by a guitar, even a trombone – in a minor key with two-part harmony, performers take their roles seriously. The advent of, first the loud speaker, then the karaoke has given the pabasa a different tone. The owner of a carroza (float) that is taken out during Holy Week processions is expected to sponsor a pabasa, which can also be panata (vow). Chanters are the devout who have  made a pledge, though a pabasa is also an opportunity for the young of the community to meet new friends.”  (NCCA attributes its source from the book CUARESMA by Gilda Cordero-Fernando & Fernando Zialcita, Bookmark, Inc. and Bungang Araw, 2000).Santo Intierro in Bulusan There are some slight variations in the traditional practice of the Pasyon but  the essence of the chant is basically the same. I took some photos of the Pasyon in situ in Bulusan on the Maundy Thursday of the recently concluded Semana Santa. I noticed that there were flurry of activities in the household of the caretaker who was also the sponsor of the Pasyon. Only recently the event is also called Pabasa in Bulusan maybe because Manila based locals call it as such. There were people coming and going. A long table where meals and snacks for the chanters/singers and visitors were served was visible from the outside of the house of the sponsor. Sound system blared from the speakers filling the whole Poblacion of the monotone chant. The chant actually made my siesta more pleasing in the afternoon. The undulating voices echoed in the sleepy tropical ambiance of the town. I likened it to a Gregorian chant transported to  the tropics. It was in fact very meditative if not for the blaring loud speakers that gave it a wailing pitch. I still have to check though  if the Pabasa/Pasyon is the longest song there is in the Philippines. Judging by the length of the pages of the book (photo) there is a possibility that the Pasyon or Pabasa can qualify as such. Pasyon in BulusanPasyon in Bulusan Photos: Alma P. Gamil Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

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Snippets from Bulusan Semana Santa 2014 (1)

Bulusan Holy Week processions

Santa Marta during the first day of the Semana Santa 2014 in Bulusan

Although dubbed as Holy Parade by a non-Filipino author, Holy Week procession to Bulusanons will never be a parade. Parades are for fiestas while Holy Week processions of Santos/Santas will always be identified with solemnity and sacredness. The two-line row procession is seldom followed but those who join the procession are aware that the procession is a way of ‘penitensiya’ – an expression of devotion and faith.

My neighbor Jovit (extreme left of photo) is a dedicated carer of two Santas (Santa Veronica and Santa Marta) whose images were already under the care of their family long before he was born.

My neighbor’s grandson, Jovit (extreme left of photo in pink shirt), is a dedicated carer of two Santas (Santa Veronica and Santa Marta, in pink and green gown) whose images were already under the care of their family long before he was born.

One recent development of the Bulusan’s Holy Week processions was the shifting of some Santos/Santas from andas to carrozas. Andas is the carved base supporting the santo/santa that is carried on the shoulders of devotees, usually local volunteers during the entire Holy week processions. The carrozas have the same carved santo base, these are however pulled by assistants as it rolls down the streets during the procession proper. Assistants during the recent processions of Palm Sunday and Holy Wednesday  until Good Friday were wearing uniform t-shirts with the color theme of the day.

From andas to carroza. Not long ago Santas and Santos were mostly carried on the shoulder by men.

From andas to carroza. Not so long ago Santas and Santos were mostly carried on the shoulder by men.

During the processions the parishioners and worshipers are free to select the image of the santos/santas she/he will follow in the procession line. Holding lighted candles throughout the procession is customarily done in Bulusan. Those watching at home along the procession route have lighted candles on their windows and front doors that add to the solemnity of the event. I opted to follow the Dolorosa because of the  sayos (women wearing long black habit) praying the Rosary.

Santa Marta radiates beauty in another exquisite gown creation.

Santa Marta radiates beauty in another exquisite gown creation by Jovit.

As usual, my neighbor’s Santas (Santa Veronica and Santa Marta) were the most stylish. Definitely not kitsch. My neighbor’s santas were always exquisitely dressed but never ostentatious. Recycling and mix matching with the right accessories were tastefully done inch by inch to the last detail. Fine jewelries adorned  both santas. Surprisingly, these haute couture gowns and embellishments did not distract the real essence of the santas role in the semana santa celebrations.

I grew up with the santas already there in our neighborhood, and I noticed that the santas were becoming more radiant with beauty as the years pass. Kudos to Joesie Halim Jaymalin  my neighbor’s grandson – a Manila based artist who is the current carer of the santas.

Santa Marta and Santa Veronica return home to our neighbor's house after the Easter mass.

Santa Marta and Santa Veronica return home to our neighbor’s house after the Easter mass. Shown here for final viewing along the street in Poblacion Central.

Semana Santa or Holy Week is simply referred to as “Kamahalan” in Bulusan which literally translates to ‘highness.’ No wonder why all the santas and santos are wearing royal garb during  Holy Week.

You may visit also my last year’s Semana Santa notes here:

http://bulusanvirtualtour.blogspot.com/2013/03/santa-marta-beautiful-act-of-devotion.html

Photos: Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

Palm Sunday 2014 images in Bulusan

Palm Sunday 2014 in Bulusan

Oliba fronds adorn the main altar of the Saint James the Greater Parish in Bulusan. Palaspas made of young coconut and buri palm leaves complete the simple  Palm Sunday flora arrangement.

Oliba leaves with red accent for Palm Sunday  for each station of the cross frame.

Oliba fronds with red accent for each frame of the station of the cross. Red is the traditional color theme for Palm Sunday.

Local parishioners brought mostly oliba leaves to the event.

Local parishioners brought mostly oliba fronds to church to be blessed for the Palm Sunday celebrations.

More oliba carrying parishioners wait for the  blessing rites.

Pineapple shaped palaspas with oliba fronds as main accent at the altar.

An installation of  pineapple shaped palaspas with oliba fronds  at the church’s altar.

Oliba foliage arrangement sparsely accented with palaspas made from young coconut palm leaves.

Hosanna choir girl giving away flower petals from her basket after the Palm Sunday mass.

Hosanna choir girl giving away flower petals from her basket after the Palm Sunday mass.

Palm Sunday is more known as Domingo de Ramos in formal reference to the event and casually referred to as “osana’ (Hosanna) in our town.  In Bulusan this is a festive event complete with bedecked azoteas around the Poblacion where hosanna choir composed of local girls and boys with their daintily decorated baskets full of flower petals sing traditional hosanna songs while throwing confetti like petals to the crowd. Rainy weather however prevented the round-the-Poblacion hosanna to happen. In a rare occurrence in the town’s history, the singing of the hosanna choir took place inside the church in lieu of the more festive outdoor ‘osana.’ The event took off successfully despite the rains  with some parishioners taking enthusiastic photo ops with the Palm Sunday themed altar as background after the mass.

Some members of the hosanna choir waiting for their photo ops.

Some members of the hosanna choir waiting for their photo ops.

Photos : Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

Oliba up close

Young leaves of oliba with rows of dainty curls at the edges of each frond.

Young leaves of oliba with rows of dainty curls at the edges of each frond.

Oliba is the leaf frond of choice for the celebration of Palm Sunday in Bulusan. Although not technically a palm (it is a cycad), it is the traditional ‘palm’ for the event in our town. Only the matured leaves are harvested for the Palm Sunday’s festivities which is more sustainable than harvesting the young shoots of the true palms.

A closer look on the rows of curls.

A closer look on the rows of curls.

These photos were taken 2 days earlier with the younger leaves of the oliva daintily showing curly rows of leaflets. The curls straighten as it matures into dark green and stiff palm looking leaves. These are gathered for blessings during Palm Sunday.

Zooming in on the cluster of young leaves.

Zooming in on the cluster of young leaves.

Top view of the oliba plant.

Top view of the oliba plant.

Matured leaves on the lower part spread radially from the center of the trunk. Notice the sharp contrast of the texture  of the matured leaves to the young shoots.

Matured leaves on the lower part spread radially from the center of the trunk. Notice the sharp contrast of the texture of the matured leaves to the young shoots.

Cycas revoluta is the scientific name of oliba. More about oliba here:

http://bulusanphotostream.blogspot.com/2013/03/oliba-bulusans-palm-of-choice-for-hosana.html

Photos: Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

Little boy in the woods

Our eyes met for a few seconds and he disappeared from view.

Our eyes met for a few seconds and he disappeared from view.

Sometimes I imagine seeing things. But at that time I’m quite sure that this little boy was peeking through the woods…looking at me. Our eyes met for a few seconds and he disappeared from my view. I was riding a jeepney and he was just standing there behind the woods along the road.

It was an incidental snap while I was on my way back home to Bulusan. The jeepney route passes several rural villages of Barcelona and Bulusan towns.

Among my countless roadside photos, this photo is special because it reminds me of an elfenesque virtual friend who remains to be a mystery.

The woods along the road.

The woods along the road.

Photos:  Alma P. Gamil

 

San Vicente Bell tower: Local modern architecture

San Vicente Belfry

Whenever I passed by the church of San Vicente Ferrer in Buhang, Bulusan, I always see to it to keep my eye focused on the mini belfry or bell tower at the right side of the chapel. Its presence is subtle not imposing but its charm once it hit the viewer will get you hooked. Tall, slender and modern.

I had the chance to study closely the details of this architectural gem when I visited the place for a First Friday pailaw (light offering) for the month of April. The more I was impressed of its design. Simple and practical yet possessed with that distinct appeal. The space only occupies less than 2 meters by 2 meters which makes it more amazing! A strong tower that reach to about 2-story high. It reminds me of a light house design.

The placement of the metal stairs and the protective metal surrounding it adds to the overall design style. It complements the style of the chapel which can be described as contemporary.

The photos speak for the beauty of the bell tower of San Vicente chapel. It shows  that a religious structure need not be antique looking to be an attraction too.

Side view of San Vicente Chapel in Barangay Buhang.

Side view of San Vicente Chapel in Barangay Buhang.

See also San Vicente chapel’s front view on this post:

https://bulusanruralvagabond.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/primer-biyernes/

Photos: Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

Graduation Season

 

A mother making last-minute check on her son for the afternoon graduation rites for Prep in a Catholic school in the Poblacion.

A scene from one of my jeepney rides this last week of March, caught my attention: A young mother and her son in front of my seat on their way to a Prep graduation in Bulusan. The quiet scene of mother and child with a graduation toga at hand was so strong that I will let the photos do more of the speaking. It is better this way in as much as I am also caught in awe of the scene.

Taking the prep graduation seriously, for this  kid.

Taking the Prep graduation seriously, for this kid.

The isparago leaves neatly arrange as decorative foliage on the orchid corsage pinned ready on the white toga articulates clearly the special occasion of the day. No other plant is identified with graduation ceremonies in Bulusan other than the isparago plant. Its fine leaves are ideal for graduation corsage’s compact arrangement.

Isparagu leaves are traditionally used for making the gradution corsage in Bulusan in all levels from preparatory grades to college level.

Isparago leaves are traditionally used for making the graduation corsage in Bulusan in all levels from preparatory grades to college level.

Read more about Bulusan graduation tradition here: http://pamughaton.wordpress.com/2013/03/24/sanig-sa-pingkit/

Photos: Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

Now blooming part 2

Now blooming part 2

After my visit to the grotto to make a ‘pailaw’ (light offering), said my prayers and whispered my wish for  a very special day, I took photos of the ‘masitas’ (ornamental plants) inside the church’s patio.

From the ground and up towards the tree branches, the flowers were all vying for my attention. Gazing at the flowers I somehow felt that my prayers are already answered.

What a beautiful day to live!

Photos: Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

A song for an old soul on her birthday

Awit ng Mortal speaks volumes. It is a brilliant distillation of life’s meaning. It is a code of living. This Joey Ayala’s gem is a classic.

My search for the nearest translation of this song to English  led me to a site by sacadalang.wordpress.com. Here it is:

Ano ang sukat ng halaga ng isang buhay?

Kayamanan ba o di kaya ang pangalan?

Ano ang titimbang sa husto o kulang

Ng katuparan ng adhikain at paninindigan?

May gantimpala bang dapat pang asahan

Upang kumilos nang tama’t makatuwiran?

What dictates a person’s worth? Is it possessions? Is it reputation?

Against what should an endeavor be weighed? Against which should conviction be gauged? Must there be expected rewards for all good deeds?

Saglit lamang ang ating buhay,

Tilamsik sa dakilang apoy.

Ang bukas na nais mong makita

Ngayumpama’y simulan mo na.

Our lives are just ticks in time, flicks in that great flame; commence today the tomorrow that is your dream.

Ang bawa’t tibok ng iyong puso

Minsan lamang madarama.

Ito ang kumpas ng ating awit

Na sadyang may hangganan.

Each heartbeat happens only once. This beat is the rhythm of the song that is us; that which has an end to it.

May gantimpala bang dapat pang asahan

Upang kumilos nang tama’t makatuwiran?

Must there be expected rewards for all good deeds?

Kat’wan at isipa’y kukupas,

Sa lupa’y yayakap din.

Subali’t ang bunga ng iyong pamana’y

Higit pa sa pinagmulan.

We age, we falter, we’ll succumb to the earth; however, your legacy, in its fruition, will wax beyond you and where you have come from.

Saglit lamang ang ating buhay,

Tilamsik sa dakilang apoy.

Ang bukas na nais mong makita

Ngayumpama’y simulan mo na.

Our lives are just ticks in time, flicks in that great flame; commence today the tomorrow that is your dream.

Translation reference: http://sacadalang.wordpress.com/2013/10/04/adams-song-awit-ng-mortal/

Video from You Tube

Now Blooming

Now Blooming

Bougainvillea is one of the most common blooming ornamental plants around town.

Bulusan ornamental flora

Growing in front of Oya Salud’s house are these sun loving ornamentals.

Bulusan’s tropical flora loves the months of March and April. From the Poblacion to the countryside, the rural scenery is awash with colors and beauty. It is during these months that assorted plants respond to abundant sunshine displaying the best of its foliage and flowers.

Wandering about in my neighborhood block resulted to the above photos. The local white orchid variety (above photo) is simply referred to as butterfly orchid in Bulusan. The various ornamentals and weeds (lower photos)  were taken along the countryside road.

I will be on the lookout for more as summer peaks.

Landscaping countryside style.

Even weeds along the road are bursting with blooms.

Diverse flora densely packed in a rural fence includes the purple and white sanggumay.

Diverse flora densely packed in a rural fence includes the purple and white sanggumay.

Related post about sanggumay: https://bulusanruralvagabond.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/sanggumay/

Photos: Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sosogon, Philippines