PARAÑAQUE City, April 6, 2014—A few weeks ahead of Holy Week, a lay group decided to hold a “marathon praying” Sunday, using the traditional Pabasa at the Santa Monica Sub-Parish in Barangay Don Galo.
The group, mostly composed of elderly women, started the Pabasa (Reading) at four in the morning, lasting until roughly six in evening with more participants joining each hour.
Mindless of fatigue, those who participated closely followed every line of the Pabasa, making sure they do not miss a single word or syllable.
“They [participants] believe that the Pabasa is their way of making amends of whatever transgressions they have committed that offended the Lord,” said Santa Monica Sub-Parish coordinator Malu Dandan.
“Others think that any wish of theirs would be granted by God once they get to finish the Pabasa,” she added.
Magdalena Angeles, one of the regular Pabasa chanters, vowed that she will be doing the Pabasa “until her dying breath”.
In an interview with the CBCPNews, Dandan explained, the Pabasa has been an honored tradition among the residents of Parañaque, particularly the “old-timers”.
The participants, who were mostly grandmothers, commonly referred to as “manangs”, came from the different barangays (villages) and parishes of Parañaque like La Huerta, San Dionisio, Tambo, Santo Niño, and Multinational.
The Pabasa is the ritual reading of the “Pasyon”, an epic poem in stanzas of five lines of eight syllables, each interwoven with a dramatic theme recounting the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It is said to be a Christian adaptation of a pre-Hispanic Filipino custom of chanting epic poems. The Pabasa is usually, but not exclusively, recited during Holy Week.
Its full title is ”Casaysayan nang Pasiong Mahal ni Jesucristong Panginoon Natin na Sucat Ipag-alab nang Puso nang Sinomang Babasa” (“The History of the Passion of Jesus Christ Our Lord that Surely Shall Ignite the Heart of Whosoever Readeth”), but is better known as “Pasyong Pilapil”, after the famous foreword by Fr. Mariano Pilapil in 1814. (Raymond A. Sebastián)