Sunday, March 18, 2012

101. Filipino Holy Week Practices: SALUBONG

By Armando P. Rubin
(Taken from 'The Philippines Herald Magazine', 17 April 1965 issue, p. 7)

PROSESION NG PASKO NG PAGKABUHAY, Pandaka, Maynila, 4 April 1926

One of the most enchanting of local traditions is the “Salubong” (meeting) which is actually a reenactment of the sequence or hymn for Easter Sunday: “Speak Mary, declaring what thou sawest wayfaring”. The entire procession at the first flush of dawn is an elaborate portrayal of “what Mary sawest”.

What takes place on Easter Easter morn is one of the most unique and beautiful dramatizations of the ‘meeting’ ever conceived. In many towns of Rizal, Cavite and Bulacan, just outside Manila, the colorful custom survives. Long before dawn, the village is astir with preparations for the spectacular event. Wit incredible ingenuity, the drama and pageantry of the miracle of Easter starts to unfold.

PROSESION NG PASKO NG PAGKABUHAY, Pandaka, Maynila, 4 April 1926

At early dawn, the “salubong” or meeting of the risen Christ and His Sorrowing Mother is reenacted. Two processions issue from separate church doors, one composed of males and headed by the figure of Christ, the other composed of females led by the image of the Virgin Mary. The processions converge on the town plaza, where the main rites take place.

Brass trumpets blare forth. As soon as the notes die down, a ceremonial dance called “bate” begins. This is performed by young girls on top of a platform facing the images. The dance is followed by the “tula” or declamation of verses in praise of the Virgin.

Immediately after the “birds” come sliding down along the wires, piercing a papier-mache heart which opens up to reveal a little girl or “angel” dressed in white, two of the birds glide along the wires onto a bag of confetti which they tear open with their beaks, spilling the contents on the dancers below.

In a series of rapid movements, the angel is lowered, lifts the veil from the Virgin Mary, is pulled up again while a censer is swung, perfuming the air. The Virgin Mary stands revealed in splendid glory, her rich robe sparkling in the sun.

The band plays on, and the little angel sings the “Alleluia”, all the while scattering rose petals on the images below, bringing this elaborate spectacle to a close. In the evening, the people flock to the last performance of the ‘senaculo’, which officially ends the Lenten Season.


The two principal images of the “Salubong” are that of the Risen Christ (Resurrecion) and the Virgin Mary (Virgen de Alegria).

FIGURES OF RESURRECTED CHRIST AND MARY, Pasko ng Pagkabuhay, Pandakan, Maynila.
Most antique “Resurreccion” images are small in stature, a little over 3 feet in height. It depicts the figure of Christ resurrected, right arm raised in blessing, the other arm holding his standard. He is usually shown bare from the waist up, displaying his wounds, and wearing an embroidered “tapiz”. He can also be shown caped and sashed, for modesty’s sake. The Christ figure stands on a cloud base to symbolize His rise and passage from his earthly death.

The shrouded image of Mary represents her at her moment of sorrow. When the mourning veil is lifted, we see her joyful expression, hence the “Virgen de Alegria” (regarded as the opposite of Virgen Dolorosa). She is shown standing, with clasped hands or crossed hands over Her chest. Most of the time, the standard image of the Immaculate Conception is used for this purpose.

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