Daily Archives: April 20, 2014


April 20, 2014


By Arturo P. Garcia

In a public service feature of the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA) on the Christian dome celebration of Holy Week, FACLA did the the two days of the Filipino tradition of the PABASA ANG PASYON NG POONG HESUKRISTO or the singing oral tradition of the Philippines during the Holy WEEK.

More than 30 people joined in singing or chanting the 203 page book for two days, April 16 and 17 in the FACLA Social Hall

History of the PABASA

The PABASA became a tradition when the Spanish colonizers of the Philippines used the oral tradition of singing of the Filipinos to spread Catholism for the more than 333 years they occupied the Philippines.

The Spanish used the passion of Christ and the Tagalog Language written in BAYBAYIN for the PABASA or the PASYON during the Annual Holy Week of the April. When the people were used to the PABASA, slowly the Spanish eliminated the BAYBAYIN as a language and introduced the ABAKADA or the Anglicized Spanish alphabet liquidating the BAYBAYIN as a written language.

But the payback was that the oral language, in different dialects like the Tagalog survived and integrated the Spanish language in the now national language, Pilipino based on the language of the center-Tagalog.

Different Tribal traditions in the Philippines have a rich oral tradition like the DALLOT and DAN-DANIW of the Ilocos and the Cordillera, PUNI ( in Pampamga or Kapampangan), KUNDIMAN and KUDYAPI of the Tagalog regions during the Pre-Spanish period.

The Tagalog provinces of Bulacan and Batangas as well as Pampanga are the strongest bulwark of the tradition of PABASA. Individual families conduct PABASA in their homes and even brought the tradition overseas even here in North America.

This was continued with the new forms that the Spanish introduced and enrich, integrating this oral tradition with the DUPLUHAN, SARSUERLA, MORO-MORO and the PABASA or the PASYON.

Why the PABASA Tradition Endured

Why did the tradition endured for more than 450 years? Is this because the Catholic Church is strong in the Philippines? Or is it cultural?

The answer is no. Like in the African American community, the deep seated oppression and colonialist transgression provided the Filipinos a valve or an outlet to express their protests and feeling against the Spanish and American occupation of the Philippines.

Like the Jewish nation reeling from the Roman empire, their faith was their way to channel their energy to live under occupation and their longing for freedom. Thus, the passion of Christ was an great example for them.

Even after the defeat of the Filipino revolutionaries during the Filipino-American War from 1899-1916, religious millenarian groups led by leaders like PAPA ISIO and others fought the authorities holding on to their faith and deep sense patriotism. Mixing religion and love of country.

Thank you, PABASA Participants

Reliving the event as a Filipino cultural event, PABASA SA FACLA, ANG PASYON NG POONG HESUKRISTO from April 16 to 17, 2014 was a resounding success!

More than 30 people sung the PABASA or the singing oral tradition of the Philippines for two straight days, for 10 hours and a half from 11:00 AM of April 16 to 10:00 PM of April 18. There was no PABASA on the Holy Friday, April 18, 2014.

FACLA President Austin Baul Jr. thanked the Filipino American community for coming to support the PABASA. People besides singing in the PABASA came to support the event by bringing food, drinks, taking photographs and staying during the PABASA.

FACLA also thanked the more than thirty PABASA patiently participated and who sung the 213 page book PASYONG MAHAL about the passion of Christ continuously and alternately for two days.

The PABASA Participants

For Holy Wednesday, April 16; Teresa Viray, Larry Pelayo, Art Garcia, Rudy Vallejo, Bernie Ganon, Marc Carato, Austin Baul Jr, Lorie Lee, Elisa Rosario.

For Maudy Thursday, April 17: Teresita Orcini, Aida Dy, Lagrimas Yumul, Caridad Pascua, Avelina Hall, Larry Pelayo, Marc Caratao, Austin Baul Jr, Cecile Pante, Mon Pante, Lorie Lee, Teresa Viray, Cora Miller, Rudy Vallejo, Jasmine Morada, Rey Ganon, Bernie Ganon and Art Garcia.

Also present and who provided technical support for FACLA were Sid Balatan, Miriam Balatan, Paul Julian, Clarita Julian, Nila Jamias, Linda Nery, Rene Villaroman, Jun Dos Pueblos, Concordia Dos Pueblos, Fender Santos, Danny Adlawan and Jen Morada

The FACLA also provided the space, sound system ,food ,drinks and coffee drinks the two days and nights PABASA. FACLA open the social hall for two nights and two days for 24 hours of non-stop singing of the PABASA ( Reading which is actually reading by singing or chanting ).

They brought cooked foods and refreshments for the PABASA readers at FACLA to keep them awake and strong during the two 24-hour period of non-stop reading.

The only big let down was there were only few Filipino-American youth who participated in the event. Maybe the big Cachuela Fair was held at the same time.

Or there was really a lack or dearth of interest in Filipino culture among the present day youth. They are more interested in the forms of culture like hip-hop and tattoos and not keen to understand the tradition which is understandable. It’s known as a the big “culture gap.”

Reliving a cultural tradition that has endured for more than 450 years is really fulfilling. It is not only religious but also patriotic to sing in one’s own language and fell that you are one and you belong to your community.