April 7, 2007

Semana Santa

I joined Sorsogon’s Good Friday procession after an absence of two years. There was the initial discomfort of going barefoot on the highway, of navigating through a sea of equally sweaty bodies. But after stepping on chewing gum and God knows what else I knew that things were back the way they were.

This year’s procession had an even more ritualistic feel. I took Gianna with me, and somehow I felt that we were starting our own tradition. The little girl took in everything with wonder: the carrozas, the girls dressed up as angels, the candles, the crowd. She didn’t want to be carried by Papa, so it was practically me all throughout. Talk about penitencia!

Going around—on sidestreets that I have not been to for two years—I couldn’t help but marvel. Some houses are the same: my favorite green house along J. Reyes, the white house near Colegio and the Chacon compound near Pilot. Others have obviously embraced change: the house that Tita Terry once lived in is no longer the wood-and-nipa bungalow of my childhood. Milenyo, which ravaged Sorsogon in September, has also irreversibly altered some neighborhoods.

I myself am not the same. The Santo Entierro doesn’t scare me anymore, and I have gone from uprooted to firmly rooted Sorsoganon. I have wavered between two opposing ideas of Holy Week—of Holy Week as piety and Holy Week as pleasure—and see the merits in both.

For the better part of the year, I consider myself a lapsed Catholic. On Good Friday, though, I walk the walk, talk the talk. I pick my way through rough concrete, rosary and candle in hand. I stay on the safe side as fanatics elbow out each other for a flower or a leaf that adorn the carrozas. And as the procession winds down at the Cathedral, I say a prayer.

Tomorrow, I will be crossing over to the other side of Holy Week: school reunions, cholesterol-rich indulgences, a trip to the beach.

For now, I savor the stillness. The marble floor soothes the feet, and the hush soothes the soul. I have made it through another Semana Santa.
(Thanks, John P for the photo.)

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