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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