Friday, April 29, 2011

Good Friday in Lucban, Quezon

One of the most unique Good Friday rituals in the Philippines that I've yet come across is the procession of the Santo Entierro of Lucban, Quezon. Since part of my family hails from Lucban, I thought it would be a great opportunity to further research some of the traditions still prevalent there. Like the Quiapo Nazarene of Manila, Lucbanins believe that the image of the Dead Christ holds miraculous powers; it is processed around the streets of Lucban and accompanied mostly by men, who vie against one another to be able to touch its bier. The procession usually begins after the Adoration of the Cross has concluded, and almost always finishes just before midnight. The video above is one of the best, if not the best, documentations of this ritual yet. It starts in the morning, when the priest gives his blessing to the maroon-clad escorts of the Dead Christ. On their shoulders they carry the ropes with which they will pull the bier around the city. Then follows a procession of men in white, a carryover from the folkloric past of Lucban. There is a term for them that I cannot recall at the moment; it is their task to remove the Crucified from His Cross and lay Him in state. The ritual of the pagtanggal sa Krus was just one of the many elaborate and often dizzying Holy Week practices of the Philippines that were either willfully forgotten or suppressed in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, casualties of "relevant" and "participatory" liturgy. While it has not disappeared completely, the number of parishes in which this ritual takes place has been vastly attenuated. Notable examples, aside from Lucban, are Pakil in Laguna, Baliuag in Bulacan, San Jose (home of the famous "bamboo organ") in Las Pinas, and some others which escape my memory. The procession of the bier is accompanied by the haunting sound of bamboo clappers, usually three feet long, and numbering in the dozens.

The devotion to the Senor del Santo Entierro is vastly more popular with men than it is with women; since women practically have the rest of the year to be pious and devoted, the men seize the disturbance of Good Friday as a sort of heightened opportunity to display their fortitude, strength, and determination. Men who rarely, if ever, go to church are most active on this day: whether they be out in the fields scarring and whipping their backs, or else risking the crush of tens of thousands of people in an effort to kiss or touch the image of dead God on His way to the grave.


Carlos Antonio Palad said...

The "Pagtanggal sa Krus" was done this past Good Friday at the end of the Siete Palabras in Espiritu Santo church, Tayuman, Manila. I was there.

Archistrategos said...

That's awesome Carlos. I saw some photos of the Las Pinas Pagtanggal, I wish I could have seen it in person. The Baliuag Pagtanggal involves a rather curious group of people with flower wreaths in their heads, who are the ones in charge of taking the corpus down. Now, if only the veiled sanctuary would make a comeback!