Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pasundayag sang mga KAPIYA Kag PASYON sa Semana Santa

photo by Norman Pocession (USA-CAP)

In the Philippines, Semana Santa is celebrated in a very colorful and festive manner. Although it has been customary to many Filipinos to hit the beaches and mountain resorts during Semana Santa, there are still those who enjoy being with the huge crowds at traditional Lenten activities in church or outside of it.

Popular activity during Semana Santa is the Holy Thursday and Good Friday processions. People crowd the plazas during days of procession. Churches draw devotees of the Santo Entiero or the Dead Christ as they make effort to kiss, or wipe the image with their handkerchiefs.

Via Crucis (The Way of the Cross) is another popular but essential part of spiritual exercises during Lent in the Catholic Church. It is a popular devotion used by individuals or groups who through prayer and reflection wish to follow Jesus Christ on his way to Calvary.

Many Christians practice the devotion, but the Via Crucis hold a special significance among Roman Catholic Filipinos. It is one of the most important devotions honoring the passion of Jesus.

In Iloilo, churches represent the Stations of the Cross in their own way. In Tigbauan it is presented in lovely mosaics; in Dingle it is of sandstone bas-relief; others are in oil paintings, stunning plaster dioramas, marble carvings, sculptures and many other beautiful images.

Via Crucis is a devotion consisting of fourteen prayers said before a series of fourteen pictures or carvings representing successive incidents during Jesus' passage from Pilate's house to his crucifixion at Calvary. With regard to the number of Stations it is not at all easy to determine how this came to be fixed at fourteen.

Via Crucis is carried out by passing from one Station to the other, with prayers at every stop. It is very common that the devotion is performed publicly, while some even sing a stanza of the "Stabat Mater" while passing from one Station to the next.

The municipality of Cabatuan, a peaceful and clean town in central Iloilo and is 24.2 kilometers away from the city is preparing for their famous Via Crucis by way of their annual Kapiya contest and Pasyon singing on Good Friday. You do not need to climb up mountains or walk through long distances in order to see these Lenten traditions.

The Kapiya display is an annual competition of beautifully depicted series of sculptures made of indigenous materials popular in the area. The characters are life-sized and are even well-lighted during the evening.

Another popular attraction of Cabatuan during Semana Santa is the singing of the account of the Sacred Passion of Christ, locally known as Pasyon. This is a practice of continued singing, originally taking 18-20 hours without disruption from start to finish. The song recounts the life of Christ with commentaries and moral lessons and ends with verses that encouraged everyone to follow the teachings of Christ. It also speaks of sin and the punishment of hell. The singers, young and old are engage in marathon chanting of the Christ’s Passion in their little makeshift bamboo chapels clustered in the different streets of the town.

It is in the Kapiyas where the afternoon Via Crucis stops for meditation. Men, women and children in barong tagalog and baro't saya sing the pasyon in the kapiyas that normally start at dusk. The pasyon is chanted for two hours by choirs composed of 15 to 40 members.

The singing of the Pasyon and the Kapiya is one of the most beautiful religious innovations in the country. It is truly a unique experience for a tourist to witness our way of celebrating Holy Week.

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