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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Photos: Alma P. Gamil
Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines