Sunday, March 17, 2013

Barotac Viejo re-enacts the Passion of Christ

photo by John Ray Palmares (USA-CAP)

In Iloilo, where 95% of the population considers itself Roman Catholics, Semana Santa or Holy Week is a time for rest. While many head for the beaches or travel with their families and friends, some use their time to reflect on the life of Jesus and to take part in celebrations and re-enactments.

Lenten practices have evolved dramatically from Pasyon and Vista-Iglesia to the current grand Kapiya contest and re-enactment. This Semana Santa, from Jerusalem to Iloilo, Christians will commemorate the final days of Jesus. In churches and municipal plazas, the faithful will listen to readings or act out the moments leading to Christ’s crucifixion.

A vow made in 1975 has drawn in many visitors to Barotac Viejo, Iloilo every year to witness the reenactment of Christ's passion, Taltal. Celebrated this year on March 29, Taltal is considered as one of Iloilo’s longest running Lenten traditions. The community take this event very seriously that it has been religiously observed for the last 39 years as the local government helps in providing logistical and technical support. It is a well-celebrated Lenten event although not as grand as the one in Guimaras is fast gaining in importance.

A huge crowd annually show up for this dramatized tribute performed in Hiligaynon by volunteer actors in the community. No professional actors are hired and the cast is drawn from all walks of life from within the municipality. Almost a hundred people participate in the production.

The passion play begins at the covered gym where crowds gather to see Pilate sentence Jesus to death. Theatrical empathy flowed easily. From there, actors form a procession as Roman Guards whipped Christ’s back. Many, mostly children scurry along the corners of the gymnasium to a glimpse of the wounded Christ. Emotions ran high as throughout this annual ritual, children and adults are swept up in an event characterized by wailing women especially at the flagellation of Christ.

photo by Norman Posecion (USA-CAP)
Taltal may not be the best re-enactment, but it will be unforgettable and visitors will surely enjoy being in the midst of locals. It is truly a “community” event. It truly is a presentation to be seen. In this day and age, when the world seems to be in so much turmoil, one needs the heart, mind and spirit good to see something happening that is so spiritual and involving so many people of different backgrounds. It is a great way to start off the holiest season of the year. You do not want to miss this amazing event.

The staging of Taltal helps the community deepen their self-awareness as Catholics. It is an event that takes them closer to God on a somber and holy day remembered by Christians worldwide. It hopes to bring faith in Christ to those who do not know Him, remind those who d and develop faith is the greatest gift that mankind can have. Taltal serves as an invitation of Jesus to be redeemed and transformed in our lives.

Taltal is a call to conversion, a call to everyone, believer and nonbeliever. And to those who believe, the annual celebration invites us to a deeper commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ, and a deeper participation in the paschal mystery of his passion, death, and resurrection.

Barotac Viejo, Iloilo is 52 kilometers northeast from Iloilo City.  It is subdivided into 26 barangays with a land area of 14, 230 hectares. The town is bounded on the northwest by the Municipality of San Rafael; on the south by the Municipality of Banate and the Visayan Sea; on the east by the Municipality of Lemery and the Province of Capiz, and; on the west by the Municipality of Passi and San Enrique.

The town is currently experiencing fantastic growth and interest as a tourist destination in the province of Iloilo. The town hopes to offer everything visitors could want in privacy, beauty and breathtaking views. Come discover Barotac Viejo’s best kept secrets this Holy Week.

To get to the town, one can take a bus or van at Tagbak Terminal in Jaro, Iloilo City. For more information, please contact Miss Lorie Ann Dumdum-Municipal Tourism Officer at 09995796398 or Hon. Merelyn P. Valdez-SB member on Tourism at 09298366075/ 09228267231/ 09065556375 or at telefax (033) 3620208.

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