Sunday, April 24, 2011


~ Out of a dark, empty tomb on that first Easter morn sprung forth all of mankind’s fondest hopes for eternal life ~

Today, Cabuyao ushered in the celebration of Easter with the poignant tradition of the Salubong procession at dawn. A re-enactment of the first encounter between the Risen Lord and his Mother, this scene is deeply movin...g in its colorful imagery and rich metaphors – a Mother’s joy over the discovery of her Son’s return to life, a people’s renewed hope in a Risen Savior, a lifting of Good Friday’s veil of darkness and gloom cast against the backdrop of a Church in mourning and the ultimate triumph of eternal life over the curse of sin and death.

I remember these “encuentro” processions of my boyhood, when the much-awaited event happened at the corner of Del Pilar and Quezon streets. Neighbors pitched in to construct an elevated stage where a choir of little angels stood, waiting for the appointed time to sing their hosannas. Out of the old Church of San Policarpo emerged the image of the “Resurreccion” atop its old baroque, gas-lighted carroza ( a family heirloom that belongs to Cabuyao’s Hemedes-Dela Rosa clan, with the family of old Oyong Hemedes taking on the role of traditional caretakers). I can still remember the image’s old “de-kalburo” carroza which was gilded with silver trimmings and featured the painted bas-relief images of the four evangelists on each of its four sides. This carroza is now sadly gone for reasons unknown, having been replaced by Norma Hemedes (old Oyong’s daughter) with a newly constructed one some years ago.

It was a two-pronged procession. Following the “Resurreccion” were the menfolk, traversing Burgos and Juan Luna streets leading to Del Pilar. Following the men’s procession out of the old church was that of the Blessed Virgin, followed by the women and accompanied in the old days by the images of San Pedro, Sta. Marta (an image owned by the Batallones clan which is now reportedly in a sad state of total disrepair and in the possession of Nena Batallones), Sta. Magdalena (owned by the late Maestrang Boyang and according to reports, was recently sold out of Cabuyao by one of the old Maestra’s heirs) and Sta. Veronica/Sta. Maria Cleofas (the heirloom "santa" of the Cariños which is transformed from its Sta. Veronica persona on Holy Wednesday to Sta. Maria Cleofas for the Good Friday and Salubong processions). The Virgin’s procession cut across Burgos down to Calle Real until it finally reached Del Pilar street.

The old calle del Pilar was lighted by flickering candles from end to end, at times covered with a sprinkling of flower petals or colorful “papel de japon” as it awaited the arrival of the carrozas for this occasion. As the street organizers busily moved about with all the last minute flurry of activities, the waiting crowd's shrieks of delight signalled the arrival at last of the twin processions. And at that climactic moment when the images of the Risen Christ and the Blessed Mother stood face to face in a profoundly touching “ encuentro de alegria”, under a big cloud, or at times a huge lotus-like flower, a beautiful angel emerged to lift the Virgin's black mourning veil. Amidst the sound of fireworks and the gasps and sighs from a jubilant crowd, the chorus of little angels sang the Regina Coeli as a light rain of petals or confetti is showered upon the Virgin and the Risen Lord. At the end of this encounter ritual, the marching band resumed playing a "marcha triunfal", and the two processions finally converged and made its way through Quezon street, returning to San Policarpo’s where it was greeted by the joyous pealing of the bells from the old “campanario”. Finally, Christ in Glory is installed at the high "altar mayor" for the Misa Cantada of this “Araw ng Pagkabuhay”, from which old time Cabuyeños emerged to finally break the grand silence and great fast of the past week with a day of festive feasting with family and friends.

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