Wednesday, April 27, 2016


HUDYO BELIEVE? A century-old head representing a blue-eyed "Hudyo", possibly, a temple officer.

 “Hudyo!!”—this is a popular collective term for those wooden figures found on processional religious tableaus representing soldiers, sentry guards, cavalry men and centurions. Associated with tormenting Christ during his Passion, these “Hudyos”(Jews) —represented with stern expressions, beards, moustaches, sideburns and wide-open googly eyes are cited in several Gospel passages.

 For example, Herod had a personal army that consisted not only of Jews but also of foreign mercenaries. Pilate and other Roman governors also kept Roman soldiers, with some recruited from Greece. Events involving soldiers include the following scenes that have been visually translated into religious tableaus familiar to most Filipinos.

 Arrest of Jesus. John 18:3 mentions the presence of a contingent of Roman troops to support this arrest. Jesus Before the High Priest: When Jesus appeared before the high priest, only Jewish officers were present (Matt 26:58). They struck Jesus and beat him up after the verdict. Jesus Before Pilate: Pilate ordered Jesus to be beaten and mocked by his soldiers (Matt 27:27-30). Most were recruited from the Syrian Greeks, known for their hostility towards Jews.

 Jesus before Herod Antipas: Pilate sent Jesus to Herod, hoping to avoid the problem of executing Jesus. Herod’s soldiers, who were probably Jewish, mocked Jesus and gave him a royal robe (Luke 23:6-12).

 The Fall of Christ: The most popular depiction of soldiers, spearmen and footmen are on tableaus depicting the three falls of Christ (primera, segunda, tercera caida). The fallen Christ is shown surrounded by hostile looking soldiers armed with spears, lances and standards.

 The Crucifixion: Roman soldiers presided over the crucifixion of Jesus. In the Calvary scene, they are attendant figures positioned at each side of Jesus, holding lanes and spears.

 Figures of “Hudyos” are sometimes included in pasos like Simon the Cyrene Helping Jesus (guards behind the cross), Scourging at the Pillar (guards doing the actual whipping), Crowning of Thorns, Paciencia (the seated Jesus flanked by guards), Guarding of the Tomb, Piercing of Jesus (by Longinus).

 Because of the way they are presented on Lenten tableaus, the mere sight of uniformed “Hudyos” with their devilish expressions and weapons, can instill fear and panic among children watching the Holy Week processions.

In a way, their presence brings in relevant aspects of the historical and cultural background of the event, helping us to retell the story more dramatically, which is an essential part of preaching from narrative passages.


Monday, April 18, 2016

247. PHILIPPINE SANTO NIÑOS: Stunning, Startling, Surprising!

The Filipino is a child at heart, which explains the widespread devotion to the Holy Child Jesus in the Philippines. It also explains why—on His annual festival in January, owners of Niño images, led by members of the Congregacion del Santisimo Nombre del Niño Jesus, give rein to their unbridled child-like fantasies as they take out their images for procession.

Along Roxas Boulevard, scores of Sto. Niño statues, of all shapes and sizes and bearing various titles and appellations, could be seen on their floats, dressed and decorated in the most wondrous varieties—from regal to riotous, fancy to flamboyant—all guaranteed to dazzle, startle and surprise.

In the 1994 edition, there were Bambinos like these, inspired by Italian-style representations of the Child Jesus..

There were little Niño that came shielded from the elements in spectacular Baldochinos such as these..

This pair of cute pair were dolled up as—the Pope. One was wearing the Papal Miter and the other, a golden Papal Tiara.

Only in the Philippines can one see the Holy Child in the national costume for men—the Barong…

 Attracting extra attention were these Infant Jesus statues attired in Ethnic Regalia…

 Strange as it may seem, there were Niños garbed as Warriors, ready to do battle…

Meanwhile, there were a couple of Sleeping Sto. Niños, oblivious to the noisy, adoring crowds..

A trio of little Jesus figures were borne on Horses—one, carried by a chariot flown by the mythical winged horse, Pegasus, and another, led by kiddie cocheros…

Still others were presented using Musical-Themed backdrops, like the Las Piñas Niño that featured a bamboo organ, and another Holy Child, being serenaded by a guitar-playing figure.

There were overly-decorated floats overflowing with flowers, blooms, petals, leaves and fruity décor, totally overwhelming the poor little Holy Child—you could scarcely see Him!

Thank heavens, there still were a few familiar Santo Niños that many could recognize among those in the procession—like this replica of the much-revered Santo Niño of Cebu whose depiction remains true to the original, thus inspiring true reverence!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

246. Rare Folk Santo Tableau: THE MOCKING OF JESUS

BURLANDOSE DE JESUS. A folk santo grouping in a primitive
urna, depicting the mocking of Jesus by Roman soldiers.
Pamintuan Mansion, Angeles City, Pampanga.

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Religious tableaus depicting anything from Biblical scenes (the Nativity, the Crucifixion)  to various saintly groupings (e.g. Our Lady of Carmel, St. James Fighting the Moors, Salvacion) are familiar sights to antique dealers and santo collectors. Folk representations of the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) commonly abound, often encased in a colorful folk altar. The same goes true for Calvario tableaus  that show Jesus on the cross, surrounded by Mary, Magdalene and St. John.

However, in the restored ancestral Pamintuan residence of Angeles City can be found a very rare and seldom seen folk tableau, representing the Mocking of Jesus Christ. This event, which Jesus had predicted, happened several times--after his trial and before his crucifixion according to the gospels of the New Testament.

The mocking of Christ took place thrice: immediately following his trial by the Sanhedrin, after his condemnation by Pilate, and when he was on the cross. The first instance was done by chief priests, temple guards and other elders.

The second instance occurred after his appearance before Pilate, where, upon his condemnation, was  was flogged and mocked by Roman soldiers. They clothed him with a purple or scarlet robe. crowned with thorns and made to hold a staff as his scepter. This wooden tableau seems to depict Jesus' second mocking by the Pilate's Roman centurions who knelt before him and said , "Hail, King of the Jews".

Curiously, the seated blank-faced Jesus figure is clean-shaven. Could this figure represent Pilate? Or was it just a way to differentiate Jesus from his bearded and moustachioed antagonists? A wire on top of his head that once held a halo--indicates with certainty that this is indeed, Jesus. One bemoustached official is either in the act of handing him his reed scepter or about to beat him up with a staff.

Still another is seen pointing his finger up. Two or three centurions stand at attention around Jesus, dressed in their pointed hats, breeches and boots. All the figures--no more than 7 inches high-- are carved from softwood in the naif style, with their separately-carved limbs wired to their bodies. Their faces are painted and they are dressed in fabric trimmed with lace and gold thread.

The ensemble is housed in a spectacularly carved, glass fronted  urna with 4 Solomonic columns, cutwork side flanges, and a roof with simulated rococo carvings. It stands on carved feet that are typical of Ilocos folk altars.

Christians see Jesus' suffering is redemptive, hence, they see the mockery that Jesus went through as being borne and endured on their behalf. Capturing this moment in a carved devotional piece must have been a challenge to the anonymous santero who wrought this exuberantly-crafted masterpiece. Which explains why it remains the first and only Mocking of Christ tableau I have seen thus far,

The rare Mocking of Jesus folk tableau can be viewed at the Pamintuan Mansion on Sto. Entierro St., located at the heritage district of Angeles City. The ancestral residence has been converted into a Museum of Social History. Opens daily 8:00 am-5 pm, except Mondays. Entrance is free.

Monday, March 28, 2016


Agoo, before the founding of La Union province, was once a part of Pangasinan. It is one of the oldest municipalities in the Philippines, and in ancient time, its excellent harbor was frequently visited by Japanese and Chinese traders. Christianization was undertaken by both Franciscan and Augustinian missionaries, until secular priests took over in 1898.

Agoo has been made famous for the alleged Marian apparitions of Virgin Mary to Judiel Nieva, who reported seeing a statue of Our Lady of Agoo atop a Guava tree, weeping with blood. Pilgrims flocked to Agoo to see the "seer", but the highly sensationalized apparitions were declared a hoax in 1993.

But nothing can take way the display of deep Ilocano devoutness and traditional pomp during the season of Lent.. The Good Friday procession is the highlight of the Semana Santa, a devotion manifesting the fervor and faith of the hardy Agoo folks.

There are about 30 carozas beautifully adorned, all lined up at the Plaza dela Virgen, a remarkable tradition dating from the Spanish times and the Penitential Procession of Women in honor of the Mother of Christ, all dressed in black.

The funeral entourage also consists of mourning virgins--saintly women depicting the female characters associated with the ministry and  Passion of Jesus, a selection of which are featured on this page.

All photos were taken in 1994 by Dr. Raymund Feliciano, exclusively for this blog.

Source: title=AGOOSEMANASANTA%3Cbr%3EAgoo,LaUnion&func=all&pid=5663

Monday, March 21, 2016

244. Krus ni Kristo #1: APO SEÑOR OF GUAGUA

APO SENOR OF GUAGUA. An age-old crucifix  that
has been revered in Wawa town ever since one can remember

The origin of this 7 ft. black Nazarene nailed to a cross is shrouded in mystery; for as long as oldtimers remember, it has always been revered in the town, installed in a barrio chapel of Sto. Cristo since the Spanish time. The chapel was burned down duing the Peacetime era, and so “Apo Señor”, as he came to be known by the townsfolk, was transferred to the main Parish Church.

Every 23rd of April, the "Dakit ning Apung Señor" ritual happens, in which the Crucifix is fetched from the church complete with a marching band, for enshrinement in the chapel, where it is processioned in time for the May fiesta.

Monday, March 14, 2016

243. STA. MARIA MAGDALENA OF KAWIT : Patroness of the Revolution

SANTA MARIA MAGDALENA, patroness of the Philippine Revolution.

 The town of Kawit in Cavite is one of the country’s cradles of history, a town linked inseparably with Aguinaldo and the Philippine Revolution. Kawit is also home to a revered image of the repentant sinner-saint, Sta. Maria Magdalena, under whose patronage the town has been placed over 300 years ago, during the term of Manila Archbishop Miguel Garcia Serrano (1618-1629). The revered image of Sta. Maria is enshrined in her own altar at the age-old baroque Kawit Church, known as the Church of St. Mary Magdalene.

Over the years, devotion to the saint has become so widespread throughout the region and its most well-known devotee is no less than General Emilio Famy Aguinaldo, first president of the Philippine Republic. The Kawit-born revolutionary leader would ask for her protection every time he would venture out, and his safe delivery would always be attributed to the workings of the santa. Aguinaldo would even name his factionist movement after his patroness— "Magdalo". It is nowonder that Sta.Maria Magdalena has also earned the unofficial title as the “Patron Saint of the Philippine Revolution.”

 The antique life-size image of Sta, Maria is of wood, carved in the round, including her hair and vestment drapings, painted pink, orange and gold. However, like many de bulto images, she is outfitted with real clothes—usually, a gold-embroidered red gown, matched with a golden yellow cape. Be-wigged and shod in silver shoes, the saint holds her iconographic attributes—a perfume jar on her right hand and a crucifix on the other.

 There is a characteristic mark on her forehead, which others refer to as a mole (“nunal”) but it has been speculated that it is the symbolic mark left by Jesus's fingertip when He gently admonished her to “ touch me not” during their encounter three days after His death.

 Devotion to Sta. Maria Magdalena is year-round, but it reaches its peak during her July 21 feast days. On the eve of the fiesta, at 7 in the morning, the caracol tradition of bringing the image out in her flower-trimmed anda to make the rounds of the town begins. The anda bearers and the thousands of pilgrim-followers dance their way from Binakayan to Alapan, while prayers are said and favors are requested. Fandango is the traditional dance step used to convey the image from town to town.

 The santa is also brought on a riverine procession on a “casco” to bless the waters of Cavite and make them more bountiful.

 On the fiesta day itself—July 22—a grand procession is held on the main streets of Kawit. The 7:00 pm. procession is led by light-bearing youngsters followed by the lavishly-decorated carozza of Sta. Maria Magdalena, and a retinue of townsfolk. Groups of devotees called “Maginoos” and “Ginangs” dressed in their finery are at the tail-end. The parade ends at 10 p.m. and is capped with a feast-for-all sponsored by the Hermanos and Hermanas of the fiesta.

The fiesta revelry continues at the church patio where carnival rides, games and sideshows provide added enjoyment to the people of Kawit whose devotion to theis Sta. Maria Magdalena knows no bound, through periods of strife, struggle and present-day prosperity.


Monday, February 29, 2016


Photo by Romy Homillada.

By Alya B. Honasan
yOriginally published in the Artwatch section of OPINION Weekend (OW) Magazine. 

 How did a playwright, writer and director turned his passion into a fulfilling profession? 
 With the blessings of his ‘children.’ 

 Does Floy Quintos tell if a particular bulol or santo, a prime piece of tribal or colonial art, is a good one? “Very Buddhist,” he says in all sincerity.”It’s in the eyes. They should be looking at you, but at the same time,seem like they’re looking beyond you or something deep inside you.”

The award-winning playwright , writer and director is a firm believer in the life force that lives within such cultural antiquities, a force that influences the decisions of this brand new entrepreneur. “It’s this little spirit, a spark of life. It’s the spirituality of the carver and a reflection of how ingrained such spirituality in their lifestyle. You can own a fake, but it doesn’t look at you in the right way.”

 Such a primal sensitivity and a collector’s instinct has helped Quintos amass a formidable trove of tribal and colonial sculpture, textiles and adornments—“small and big things, all authentic”—which he began putting together at the age of 12 when he purchased his first P5.00 santo from a shop in Mabini. “I don’t know why I like them." It was probably just a response to something in his soul.

Those were the years when there was still really great stuff in Manila, when walking into an antique shop was an adventure.” Quintos remembers “making connections with mountain people’ on treks to Sagada, Baguio and Banawe—“something I can’t quite do anymore at 41.” He laughs. “Me? Walk in the fields with a camote stick?”

 Today, the same folks still look him up in Manila when there’s merchandise for sale, and after having learned his slessos buying the ocassional “mega-dud” and reading up on the subject, Quintos has become a discriminating collector who knows what he wants. Friends have long bugged him to open his own shop. Then, serendipitously, Willie Versoza, owner of the pioneering antique shop Likha and a friend of Quintos, announced he was closing shop after the death of his partner, Jean Louis Levi.

Quintos had been doing some thinking. “I realized I had also amassed so much, and I was wondering, am I hoping to be collecting forever?” The rent was good, the building was owned by a friend, and Quintos, while working constantly in the commercial circuit , was looking for something to revive his weary soul. “I figured this was the career break I’ve been looking for.”

 Thus, one month ago, the orange façade and the olive green interiors of Gallery Deus welcomed the public. It was named after the Latin word for “God” which Quintos has always liked for the reference to “the spirit in all of us”.

 He was between projects, fresh from directing Ai-Ai del las Alas’ West Coast concerts and on the way to Phuket to direct a TV show, with just one Sunday to spare.He fixed the shop and made the leap from collector to dealer in one day—a move that was a lot tougher than it seems. “I learned to be not so acquisitive.” Quintos laughs.”I painted the shops, put in the shelves, but I kept procrastinating about the actual move and choosing which ones of my children to put on sale. I’ve kept exactly 6 bulols and 5 santos.”

 Quintos is at his shop from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. when he isn’t doing a show. He is having a field day treating his windows like production numbers. “This week, it’s called the beheading of John the Baptist; next week will be “Horsey-Horsey, Tigidig-tigidig!”

 Seriously,Quintos adds,”I never thought I could do business. Now I’m able to compute, and I guess, like most dealers who love their stuff and don’t look at it as just merchandise, I love to make chika the customers.”

 Consistent with his attitude, he doesn’t hard-sell the items. If a sale doesn’t push though though, Quintos assumes that the piece simply “doesn’t want to go just yet.” As a collector, Quintos is glad that Filipinos are becoming more educated buyers of tribal art, even as the levels of scholarships and appreciation are iconically still higher abroad. “It’s the foreigners who know what’s good and what’s special.”

 On the personal front. Quintos has beenmore discriminating in choosing projects and is making more time to sit back, gain perspective—and write.”I’ve got about 5 plays inside me that need to see the light, and this kind of work is giving me the time and the inspiration..” With a little help from his friends, of course.