Passion of Christ and men


Foreign and local tourists were enchanted to flock to areas where Catholic penitents bloodied their backs with whips or had themselves crucified on crosses all over the Philippines on Good Friday. But what twist did the sleepy, agricultural village of La Granja did to remember this day?

La Granja is a village in La Carlota City – some 54 kilometers away from Bacolod City. It has vast tracks of agricultural plantations  while the city houses one of the biggest sugar milling factories in Negros Occidental.

The parish of La Granja joins the entire country in interpreting the “Passion of Jesus Christ.”

“This is not only a re-enactment; this is an attempt to relate the Pasyon of Jesus Christ to the everyday lives of the Filipino people,” Fr. Jacob Segurola said before swinging away to meet his parishioners for a mass that afternoon.

More people waiting for the Crucifixion play, are at the multi-purpose covered court while some people are at the local fair playing money games, mysteriously near the makeshift theatre where Jesus Christ’s life will be re-enacted later on.

After the mass, the parade of the local cast – all colorfully dressed with an attempt to imitate the Roman time, signalled the start of the program. The group was led by a centurion on his small horse, flanked by his soldiers. Barabas, other prisoners, high priests and common people followed.

The “kalbaryo” in which the play is called, was formerly known as “taltal” – the Hiligaynon term for Crucifixion. It started 21 years ago and was usually incorporated with skits depicting social issues that concern the modern man.

Fr. Segurola notes “the main purpose is to educate the youth, involve the community and to make the parishioners feel that they are a part of this undertaking.”

This year, the “kalbaryo” was divided in parts, acted in three different places. Parishioners would have to walk about 2 to 3 kilometers to reach the “kalbaryo” hill where the re-enactment of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ took place.

Samson Doctora, Danka Sapa and Gerundio “Rondio” Arances, Jr. – all experienced in alternative threater production, helped Fr. Segurola direct the 90 cast and crew of the play. The mothers of the cast and crew also helped out in the making of costumes, while the fathers helped out in the props.

In the first stage, the play started with the “Last Supper” and ended with the “Crowning of Jesus Christ with thorns.”

Since the holy week coincided with the start of campaigns for the mid-term elections, a skit was weaved into the play to stress the need of voting wisely and not be dazzled by what politicians spend or give during the campaigns.

Juxtaposing the re-enactment of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ in the last stage, were songs and dances on issues such as the reproductive health law, poverty, the plight of women and the climate change. The different songs and dances were incorporated between the “Seven Last Words.”

These are some of the “urgent” issues for the Philippines according to Fr. Segurola. He continues “evangelization means that the Church should help people see the light so that true changes can be had amid promises of reforms and better lives for them.”

(This story was published in on 31 March 2013 )