Fil-Ams keep Pinoy Holy Week tradition alive on East Coast

LONG ISLAND CITY, NYPabasa is a Lenten tradition passed on to generations of Filipino Catholics.

Pabasa ng Mahal na Pasyon or the Passion of Jesus Christ is a chant-like recitation of the epic story about the life and suffering of the son of God.

The story begins with few stanzas about the creation of the world and ends with Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.

Pasyon devotee Carmen Martinez said, “Itong pagbasa ng pasyon ay para alalahanin natin ang paghihirap na ginawa ni Kristo at ipakita sa atin ng kanyang pagmamahal.”

“Dito ma-eemphasize natin yung forgiveness and renewal of life, para naman sa pagkabuhay ng Hesukristo ay magkakaroon tayo ng pasimula ulit,” said Cora Coretz of the Filipino Apostolate.

This Spanish-influenced religious devotion is heard during the Holy Week as a “panata” or vow during Lent season.

Devotees usually gather around a makeshift altar of the Nazarene or the cross-carrying Jesus Christ image.

Filipinos at St. Patrick’s Church in Long Island City, New York have been practicing pabasa since 1998.

“Once a year lang ito na ibigay natin sa panginoon. Masarap sa pakiramdam, I feel calm,” said Alice Soriano.

The first Tagalog pasyon “Mahal na Passion ni Jesu Christong Panginoon Natin na Tola” written by Gaspar Aquino de Belen came out in 1704.

The verses are structured in five-line stanzas, with each line containing eight syllables.

These devotees sing the pabasa from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. non-stop and in shifts on Palm Sundays.

“Ang sakripisyo dito, kung talagang uumpisahan mo sa umpisa hanggang sa matapos, yun ang napakalaking sakripisyo, kasi dito buhat sa umaga hanggang gabi eh,” said Martinez.

Jesus Solomon said, “Lubos kaming naliligayahan dahil sa ganitong paraan lang po tayo makakabayad ng utang na loob sa ating panginoon.”

In the Philippines, the pabasa can last several days, from Palm Sunday, extending no later than black Saturday. But it often ends at noon or before 3 p.m. on Good Friday – the time when Jesus was said to have died on the cross.

You can contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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