Monday, 30 March 2015

"A Never-ending Calvary for the Masses"

"A Never-ending Calvary for the Masses"

(A View-Reflection over a protest passion-play in Manila)

Since the early 90s, "Kalbaryo ng mga Maralita" (Poor people's Calvary) or "Kalbaryo ng Bayan"(Calvary of the People) reflects the Filipino everydayman's experiences as those of Christ's passion: burdened with socio-economic problems and repressed by supposed benevolent order, the activity tends to show both religious imagery and secular reality in a form of a passion play, of men carrying crosses bearing words such as poverty, crisis, repression, or injustice, that somehow became a burden to most Filipinos yearning for salvation.

In a time when sacrifice and repentance as its featured topics during the season of Lent, of Pabasa, Abstinence, Church Visits with a series of sermons related to Christ's passion, mass organisations used the said season also to feature The Filipino’s social experience, that has become comparable to the humiliation, poverty and exploitation that Christ himself was subjected to by the elite rulers of his time centuries ago.
It may not tend to cease the Lent as an occasion remembering a death of the son of God, but also a death of a man whom had served the less fortunate, be it the sinned, sick, poor, those yearning for salvation; the Filipino everydayman also yearned for salvation, most of these Filipinos were sick, poor, repressed, even comparable to Christ himself in enduring their passions, especially those of a continuous crisis and exploitation made by its rulers past and present.

Scene from "Kalbaryo ng Maralita 2015" by Pher Pasion of Pinoy Weekly

In particular, a figure, acting as "Jesus Christ" was portrayed on one side burdened by the cross bearing the issues faced by the people and on the other side were the people from every sector, with the symbolic crown of thorns representing the allegory of the ancient and present-day Christ’s, both victims of social injustice. There they have to stop on places known controversial, be it the National Power Corporation for its policies affecting electricity, Department of Justice for its ill-dispensing of Justice, or even Mendiola, which is near Malacanang Palace, residence of whom they think as a "Modern-day Herod and Pilate".

It may sound satirical though, knowing that these people used the passion for a protest action. But secularly speaking, Christ's death through crucifixion was a punishment laid by the pride-driven Pharisees for breaking the law, or perhaps for making people whom yearned for justice rallied in his side, making the Pharisees look upon it as "subversive", but for the faithful that crucifixion was more than a punishment, but a sacrifice that he, a paschal lamb of God, "takes away the sins of the world". The Kalbaryo, as it mimics the passion, somehow shows that people whom are oppressed are willing to sacrifice, endure pain, and perhaps punishment, just in order to realise a triumph of social justice over repression and exploitation by social villains. You may also call it as subversive, given that the said activity opposes the present social order appearing as benevolent in today's media; but to most Filipinos whom had endured the crisis would say that in everyday, such hardships continues to creep be it in a form of tuition fee increases, rising prices of commodities and services, homelessness, unemployment, demolition of housing and livelihood, disenfranchisement and trampling of their civil rights, and others.

And these problems are forming a cross in which these people had to carry on like Christ, towards Calvary.