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Leyte’s ‘penitentes’ sacrifice for others

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These “tais-dupol penitentes” do their share in the Holy Week presentations as sacrifice not only as penance for their sins but for their loved ones, too. (Photo: Eileen N. Ballesteros)

PALO, Leyte, March 26, 2016 – For decades now, the hooded penitents called “penitentes tais-dupol” in this historic town lend a palpable vibe of repentance every Holy Week. And they do so for others.

On Good Fridays, the penitentes, clad in violet robes for the “dupol” and white for the “tais” with their heads covered by hoods to conceal their identity, gather within the vicinity of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Our Lord’s Transfiguration Parish.

Terence Rogie Arnaiz, a “tais” (church married penitente) and “RJ”, a “dupol” (unmarried penitente) are among the dozens who roam around the cathedral’s vicinity barefoot begging for alms for the church from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Good Friday.

‘Karad Boys’

“I have been doing this for four years now as my Lenten vow of repentance not only for myself but for my family and my parents,” disclosed Arnaiz.

“Like how Jesus suffered to redeem the sins of mankind, I made this as my annual piety for them,” he explained.

Arnaiz, resident of Brgy. Naga-Naga in this town and a father of three young kids, talked about perceiving a stronger feeling of the existence of a merciful God and of Jesus in the course of his penitence.

RJ, who started being a “dupol” three years ago when he was 22-years old, carries out the said pious acts as way of penitence and thanksgiving.

He used to be a member of the so-called “Karad Boys” (children of Jerusalem) of the annual Good Friday reenactment of Jesus’ passion and death, following in the footsteps of his brothers.

The Karad Boys is a group of kids who produce scrapping sounds through a hand-held device called “karad”.

Their main task is to go around the town to announce with their “karad” the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services in place of bells which are taboo until Holy Saturday.

The penitential vow of the “tais-dupol” does not, however, end when they removed their hoods.

Year-round piety

“Before we were accepted to be ’tais-dupol penitentes’ we [underwent a] series of interviews and briefings, and when we are already done, we attend catechism every first Friday of the month,” explained Arnaiz.

“Going through regular renewals, we recite the Holy Rosary regularly and try to shun vices or at least minimize them,” he added.

Vicar- General Msgr. Rex Ramirez of the Archdiocese of Palo, meanwhile, stressed that all those who take part in the Holy Week reenactment from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday should live their faith all the days of the year.

“It is vital that they all attend recollection before they become so busy preparing for the Holy Week presentations in order not to lose the spirituality behind all these,” said the priest.

“The participants, as well as all those who come to witness these Holy Week presentations, should keep focused on the true meaning of all these events,” he said.

“Let us not be seasonal devotees but must learn to live our renewed vows and belief in the church all year round,” he urged.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Palo is a tourist destination every Holy Week in this part of Leyte due to the reenactment of Passion and Death of Christ preceding the meditation on the Seven Last Words.  (Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros / CBCP News)


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