Wednesday, April 27, 2016


HUDYO BELIEVE? A century-old head representing a blue-eyed "Hudyo", possibly, a temple officer.

 “Hudyo!!”—this is a popular collective term for those wooden figures found on processional religious tableaus representing soldiers, sentry guards, cavalry men and centurions. Associated with tormenting Christ during his Passion, these “Hudyos”(Jews) —represented with stern expressions, beards, moustaches, sideburns and wide-open googly eyes are cited in several Gospel passages.

 For example, Herod had a personal army that consisted not only of Jews but also of foreign mercenaries. Pilate and other Roman governors also kept Roman soldiers, with some recruited from Greece. Events involving soldiers include the following scenes that have been visually translated into religious tableaus familiar to most Filipinos.

 Arrest of Jesus. John 18:3 mentions the presence of a contingent of Roman troops to support this arrest. Jesus Before the High Priest: When Jesus appeared before the high priest, only Jewish officers were present (Matt 26:58). They struck Jesus and beat him up after the verdict. Jesus Before Pilate: Pilate ordered Jesus to be beaten and mocked by his soldiers (Matt 27:27-30). Most were recruited from the Syrian Greeks, known for their hostility towards Jews.

 Jesus before Herod Antipas: Pilate sent Jesus to Herod, hoping to avoid the problem of executing Jesus. Herod’s soldiers, who were probably Jewish, mocked Jesus and gave him a royal robe (Luke 23:6-12).

 The Fall of Christ: The most popular depiction of soldiers, spearmen and footmen are on tableaus depicting the three falls of Christ (primera, segunda, tercera caida). The fallen Christ is shown surrounded by hostile looking soldiers armed with spears, lances and standards.

 The Crucifixion: Roman soldiers presided over the crucifixion of Jesus. In the Calvary scene, they are attendant figures positioned at each side of Jesus, holding lanes and spears.

 Figures of “Hudyos” are sometimes included in pasos like Simon the Cyrene Helping Jesus (guards behind the cross), Scourging at the Pillar (guards doing the actual whipping), Crowning of Thorns, Paciencia (the seated Jesus flanked by guards), Guarding of the Tomb, Piercing of Jesus (by Longinus).

 Because of the way they are presented on Lenten tableaus, the mere sight of uniformed “Hudyos” with their devilish expressions and weapons, can instill fear and panic among children watching the Holy Week processions.

In a way, their presence brings in relevant aspects of the historical and cultural background of the event, helping us to retell the story more dramatically, which is an essential part of preaching from narrative passages.


Monday, April 18, 2016

247. PHILIPPINE SANTO NIÑOS: Stunning, Startling, Surprising!

The Filipino is a child at heart, which explains the widespread devotion to the Holy Child Jesus in the Philippines. It also explains why—on His annual festival in January, owners of Niño images, led by members of the Congregacion del Santisimo Nombre del Niño Jesus, give rein to their unbridled child-like fantasies as they take out their images for procession.

Along Roxas Boulevard, scores of Sto. Niño statues, of all shapes and sizes and bearing various titles and appellations, could be seen on their floats, dressed and decorated in the most wondrous varieties—from regal to riotous, fancy to flamboyant—all guaranteed to dazzle, startle and surprise.

In the 1994 edition, there were Bambinos like these, inspired by Italian-style representations of the Child Jesus..

There were little Niño that came shielded from the elements in spectacular Baldochinos such as these..

This pair of cute pair were dolled up as—the Pope. One was wearing the Papal Miter and the other, a golden Papal Tiara.

Only in the Philippines can one see the Holy Child in the national costume for men—the Barong…

 Attracting extra attention were these Infant Jesus statues attired in Ethnic Regalia…

 Strange as it may seem, there were Niños garbed as Warriors, ready to do battle…

Meanwhile, there were a couple of Sleeping Sto. Niños, oblivious to the noisy, adoring crowds..

A trio of little Jesus figures were borne on Horses—one, carried by a chariot flown by the mythical winged horse, Pegasus, and another, led by kiddie cocheros…

Still others were presented using Musical-Themed backdrops, like the Las Piñas Niño that featured a bamboo organ, and another Holy Child, being serenaded by a guitar-playing figure.

There were overly-decorated floats overflowing with flowers, blooms, petals, leaves and fruity décor, totally overwhelming the poor little Holy Child—you could scarcely see Him!

Thank heavens, there still were a few familiar Santo Niños that many could recognize among those in the procession—like this replica of the much-revered Santo Niño of Cebu whose depiction remains true to the original, thus inspiring true reverence!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

246. Rare Folk Santo Tableau: THE MOCKING OF JESUS

BURLANDOSE DE JESUS. A folk santo grouping in a primitive
urna, depicting the mocking of Jesus by Roman soldiers.
Pamintuan Mansion, Angeles City, Pampanga.

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Religious tableaus depicting anything from Biblical scenes (the Nativity, the Crucifixion)  to various saintly groupings (e.g. Our Lady of Carmel, St. James Fighting the Moors, Salvacion) are familiar sights to antique dealers and santo collectors. Folk representations of the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) commonly abound, often encased in a colorful folk altar. The same goes true for Calvario tableaus  that show Jesus on the cross, surrounded by Mary, Magdalene and St. John.

However, in the restored ancestral Pamintuan residence of Angeles City can be found a very rare and seldom seen folk tableau, representing the Mocking of Jesus Christ. This event, which Jesus had predicted, happened several times--after his trial and before his crucifixion according to the gospels of the New Testament.

The mocking of Christ took place thrice: immediately following his trial by the Sanhedrin, after his condemnation by Pilate, and when he was on the cross. The first instance was done by chief priests, temple guards and other elders.

The second instance occurred after his appearance before Pilate, where, upon his condemnation, was  was flogged and mocked by Roman soldiers. They clothed him with a purple or scarlet robe. crowned with thorns and made to hold a staff as his scepter. This wooden tableau seems to depict Jesus' second mocking by the Pilate's Roman centurions who knelt before him and said , "Hail, King of the Jews".

Curiously, the seated blank-faced Jesus figure is clean-shaven. Could this figure represent Pilate? Or was it just a way to differentiate Jesus from his bearded and moustachioed antagonists? A wire on top of his head that once held a halo--indicates with certainty that this is indeed, Jesus. One bemoustached official is either in the act of handing him his reed scepter or about to beat him up with a staff.

Still another is seen pointing his finger up. Two or three centurions stand at attention around Jesus, dressed in their pointed hats, breeches and boots. All the figures--no more than 7 inches high-- are carved from softwood in the naif style, with their separately-carved limbs wired to their bodies. Their faces are painted and they are dressed in fabric trimmed with lace and gold thread.

The ensemble is housed in a spectacularly carved, glass fronted  urna with 4 Solomonic columns, cutwork side flanges, and a roof with simulated rococo carvings. It stands on carved feet that are typical of Ilocos folk altars.

Christians see Jesus' suffering is redemptive, hence, they see the mockery that Jesus went through as being borne and endured on their behalf. Capturing this moment in a carved devotional piece must have been a challenge to the anonymous santero who wrought this exuberantly-crafted masterpiece. Which explains why it remains the first and only Mocking of Christ tableau I have seen thus far,

The rare Mocking of Jesus folk tableau can be viewed at the Pamintuan Mansion on Sto. Entierro St., located at the heritage district of Angeles City. The ancestral residence has been converted into a Museum of Social History. Opens daily 8:00 am-5 pm, except Mondays. Entrance is free.