Friday, April 22, 2011

Flaggelations, among other things people do during the Holy Week

Sometimes—and this may be the exception rather than the rule—the best decisions are the ones made spontaneously, without thought or careful consideration. At least that's what I'd call my recent visit to Balanga City, Bataan.

Over lunch, my two balikbayan friends, Jason Enriquez and Paul Velasco asked me where we'd be going for the afternoon. We were undecided, until Jason invited us to his Bataan home.


paul velasco

I said yes at an instant, in the same unthinking manner I bought an electronic gadget in Amsterdam.

After packing our bags, we hurried to the bus station in Cubao. It was the Holy Week. You know the drill: a long weekend causes a steady stream of passengers dying to go home.

rush hour

The trip took three hours. Paul slept throughout, while Jason and I did some catching up with each other. It was the kind of talk I needed and missed for a long time. After being roommates with him in first year, he's still the same man: only with the glasses, but still good-looking. (Ehem, Isn't that right, Razel?)

jason and I

We arrived in Bataan at 9 pm, had a hearty dinner prepared by Jason's mother, and slept peacefully.

Paul and I woke up early the next day. Back in Yakal, our undergrad dorm, we used to eat breakfast together, possibly because of this morning-person body clock type.

bagong gising

We got out to survey the place. Here's Paul, doing the Korean—or is this Japanese—pose.


Here's the early morning version of myself. Wearing shorts makes me look like a kid, but it's comfortable.

at jason's

We took pictures of different things. The neighbors were looking at us.

Jason's charming house. I could live here.


Some signs.

for sale

block 7, lot 21

A carabao for a more provincial feel. Paul felt threatened the animal would run after him.


The streets that looked perfect for jogging. The village still has lots of vacant spaces.


And Paul's amazing depiction of what one does when one runs out of toilet paper supply.

walang papel, uy!

When we got back, Jason was already up. We had hot chocolate, and again, a really delicious breakfast. Tita cooked wonders. And then there was a slice of papaya, the point where I coined the term, "jebarrific." If you know what the slang, jebs, means, you'll have no trouble understanding.

Jason's parents offered to drive us around town. Balanga is colorful, rich in history and tradition. But it has become more and more commercialized throughout the years. The streets have been narrowed by the influx of tricycles. Grasslands have been replaced by malls. It's the classic story of every provincial city.

We followed the trail of hardcore devotees flagellating themselves as part of their penitence during the Holy Week. I learned that they do this yearly to atone for their sins and to share in Jesus' suffering.

It was bloody.


And painful to see.


I still don't know why they  had to hide their faces from public view.


But this man didn't seem to mind the attention.


I even hopped off the car and did an interview of sorts. I asked him how long the flaggelation would last. He mumbled his response and went back to hurting himself. (View here for better resolution).

I also saw someone who chose to ride a tricycle rather than walk. Truly creative.


The children were fascinated by this show.

cross kids

Sure, it was a bloody exercise, all right, but it wasn't just the shiny, red ketchup-like liquid oozing out of the skin that hit me, but also the stains the devotees left behind.


Before we visited some of Jason's relatives in the nearby Abucay town, we headed to the public market. This man-made stream of sorts surprised us. (View full size).


And this slogan amused me. How it rings of so much truth.


We headed to Jason's house for lunch. While waiting for the meal to be cooked, Jason gave us photography tips and told us of his experiences abroad.


The lunch—again—was phenomenal. It was tinola: boiled chicken soaked in broth and vegetable, uhm, essences. I was told it's Manny Pacquiao's favorite. I devoured the meal to my heart's content.

But I had a bus to catch. If only I had the choice, I would have stayed longer for the scheduled Enriquez family outing on Saturday.

These two guys,  they're like brothers to me—only that Paul weighs heavier and Jason has a deadlier smile. I thank the Lord for their lives, and I hope to see them—hopefully soon.




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