ANGELES CITY -- Hundreds gathered in Marquee Mall Park in this city on Black Saturday to watch a breath-taking portrayal of the religious practices in the province of Pampanga.
While the prominent Kapampangan Lenten celebration showcased bloody crucifixion rites last Good Friday, the “Panata at Panalangin” (vows and prayers) featured a non-violent means of observing Holy Week by embarking on a spiritual journey through culture and the arts.
Singers, dancers, theater actors, and visual artists from the Bale Balayan and Sinukwan Kapampangan Center for the Arts combined culture with religious fervor by producing a multi-media art exhibit and dance performances under the direction of award-winning Kapampangan choreographer Peter De Vera.
“This is not just an ordinary performance but also a vow from the part of the performers. The Holy Week celebration in the Philippines should not be limited with crucifixion rites and sufferings. The artists offered their performances in observance of passion and death of Jesus Christ,” De Vera said.
Now on its fourth year, the event, which ran from March 30 (Holy Monday) to April 4 (Black Saturday), was also intended to showcase the customs of the Catholic Church.
“Panata at Panalangin is a mixed arts Lenten presentation offering a glimpse of the Kapampangan faith. We offer it as an alternative way of reminiscing and realizing what God has taught us about life and how we should deal with it not only for personal growth but with concern to other people especially the underprivileged,” explained De Vera.
The week-long artistic presentation is part of a series of Holy Week events in the Angeles City, which earlier commenced through the launching of the 14 Stations of the Cross in the same park.
The 14 Stations of the Cross, according to De Vera, have been representing the minor and major issues confronting the Philippine society today.
“The production is completely a 'bloodless' observance except for the fact that for the past Panata at Panalangin, we have been using actual flagellant’s blood as part of our exhibits,” said De Vera.
Sinukwan Kapampangan dancer Sean Mark Marcelo said their presentation was also aimed at urging young people to appreciate culture and the arts, particularly in celebrating religious events.
“Nowadays, few young people have genuine concern for the celebration of religion through the culture and the arts. We have really prepared for several months to inspire many devotees,” said Marcelo.
The religious performances also sincerely captured the moving emotions behind Christ’s trial, crucifixion, resurrection and the Blessed Virgin Mary’s vulnerability, according to the devotees.
They noted that the solemnity of the performances have successfully sent a very powerful message of what the Holy Week is all about.
“We have really gained a deeper understanding of the Holy Week celebration, which is very different from the traditional, blood-stained crucifixion re-enactment in the province,” said devotee Angelita Lapira.