It is a strange thing when the soul demands for attention. It will always pick the time when you are at your busiest. It is like a child, demanding and, beyond reason. Not giving in to this demand spells disaster. This is my experience. There is no way I can function 100% when this happens. The restlessness and the feeling of need for connection with the Other will not stop until I promise we will have a quiet time together later. But most of the time, I could not keep my promise. If ever, this quiet time usually comes in a form of a 20-minute walk to the Jeepney station. A couple of weeks since these demands started my body also started to complain. I was always feeling tired all the time. I found it very hard to wake up early despite having an early night. All I wanted to do is to sleep. When the coughing and fever started I went to see a doctor right away and ended up much worse after a week of medicine. Of course I could sense that it’s not medicine that my body needs. It’s responding to the Other. I was therefore forced to file a vacation leave for the entire holy week. I went with my friend to their beach house in Mindoro to rest my body and to give my soul whatever it is it is demanding this time. Of course with work deadlines just around the corner, I have no idea how the beach rendezvous is going to work out. Yes, I brought my laptop with me just in case those two would allow me to get on with my work.
My first activity when we arrived was to sleep atop a tree house the whole afternoon. The next morning, I heard the singing/chanting of the Pabasa at the beach house. I was not raised in this tradition and so I do not give much significance to this practice. I have never seen one, really. I was told the Pabasa involves chanting the story of the Passion of Jesus for more than 12 hours. I thought if they have that much time why don’t they just read the bible. I was even beginning to question why the church allows it.
The sea looks very inviting that morning but the sun was punishing so after breakfast I decided to just stay in my room and work on the nth revisions of my research paper. The whole time I could hear the chanting in my room. I was really distracted. They started their chanting with the Genesis story but by 10, I could hear it was already about the Passion of Jesus. It was expected to end at 9:30 in the evening so I began to wonder what story they will tell about the Passion for it to last till the evening considering that the chanting is non-stop and no meal break whatsoever.
Lunch was at the beach house’s porch where the “girls”, the young once, were chanting to their hearts delight. I therefore had a full view of them, about 7 “girls” but was told they were actually 12 in the team. Back-up coming late in the afternoon. After lunch, curiosity getting the better of me, I picked a copy of the Pasiong Mahal and sat with them. They seem to be having fun and I could sense a little competition. They were correcting each other as they chant: sometimes the tune, sometimes the pronunciation, sometimes the accent or was it the syllabication? I started to like the melody they were producing especially when there’s a second voice singing. I sensed myself relaxing at the rhythm. Before I knew it I was jamming with them. As I went through each verse, I became fascinated by the way the Passion story is being told. I felt an admiration for the author of the verses and whoever it was who gave the tune. This is one concrete example of spreading the gospel through the means of social communication, I thought. I even started to think that this is the second best read after the Bible. The verses were easy to understand and relate to. No wonder, it was very popular especially among folks in the rural areas. For example, who is that mother who cannot relate to this verse?
Iyang Krus na iyong pasa
Bunso ay iyong bitiwan’
At kita hahalinhan
Ako kaya’y mabubuhay
Sa lagay mo ngang iyan.
Of course there were verses that I could only make sense of because I was familiar with the story. Some words were not in the Tagalog dictionary I had when I was in high school. For example,
At ito namang nangayag
na palamarang si Hudas
palibhasa ay dulingas
isang lilo’t taong uslak.
One may not know what the adjectives meant exactly but by their sound, one can bet each fits Judas perfectly.
It’s almost merienda time and I was still jamming with them. Sometimes I’m with the second voice, sometimes with the first. I waited for someone to tell me to stop. It never came. Therefore I must be blending in quite nicely. In the two hours of continued chanting I could sense my soul has found what it was looking for. What it was I decided not to know. It’s enough that it had found peace. My coughing is also gone, so is my voice.
I wrote this blog after dinner. The “girls” were still at it. Happy Easter to you all!!!