Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rachmaninoff Cello Sonata Op. 19-3

Nothing else needs to be said :)

El Beso de Judas

I was eight years old or thereabouts when someone, probably a distant relative, perhaps a third or fourth cousin of my father, told me the story of Judas. The traitor, quoth the man, was possessed of a singularly evil mind, that gloried in betrayals and schemed cunningly and mercilessly to achieve its own ends. The former apostle, he added, was a pervert of unfathomable magnitude. In fact, he said, every year on Good Friday, in the little town where he hailed from, an effigy of Judas (usually of straw) would be paraded in town, for all the folk to jeer. Stuck to the straw man's waist was a long, dark, and terribly erect penis: a throbbing, nay, pulsing member that symbolized the glee he supposedly derived from his wickedness. Judas would then be hanged. Once, uh, hung, it would be revealed to all that the straw Judas had been strapped with firecrackers from the get go. These crackers are normally composed of packets of gunpowder attached to a very long string, known locally as sinturon ni Hudas (Judas' belt). Someone of great import in the town would then light up the crackers, setting off a huge noise and a tremendous explosion. The fire would consume the straw body of the failed apostle, leaving only behind its giant ebony member.

Interestingly, this small ceremony usually took place in the churchyard, after which someone would hand the wooden member to the priest, or else leave it in the church. Some say this was a relic of the pre-Christian past of the Philippines; still, others say that it was an act instigated by the Aglipayan church (Iglesia Filipina Independiente-- the nationalist Philippine church that was born in the Revolution against Spain) to spite the Roman Catholics, which has subsequently swallowed up the practice.

The title of this post-- "the kiss of Judas"-- comes from an old and pious belief that the treachery and villainy of Judas was of such unspeakable malice that it could not but leave a very physical wound on the cheek of Our Lord.