Semana Santa

In Sorsogon, nothing quite fills the streets as the Good Friday procession. As early as 4 p.m., the main streets start to swell with people and a variety of life-size santos and Holy Week tableau. By the time the procession starts at six, the entire stretch becomes a veritable sea of bodies.

The procession is a colorful retelling of the passion of Christ. As far back as I can remember the first carroza is that of the Last Supper, followed by that of St. Peter and a white rooster. Then the carrozas progress on to the fall of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and her shroud, the Crucifixion. Hundreds of shoeless penitents and 30 or so carrozas later, the Santo Entierro takes center stage, sometimes ushered in by cumbancheros.

The Santo Entierro is always the highlight of the procession. When I was small, the mysterious carroza really scared me. Eventually, it became some sort of Holy Week reminder the way it seemed to cast a cloud of gloom over Sorsogon.

A semblance of fanaticism takes over when the Holy Week procession reaches the home stretch. It is then when the men and women make a mad rush to strip the carrozas of their decor. The flowers are taken as tokens of luck: for fishermen, they are supposed to bring in bountiful catch; for those who raise fighting cocks, they are supposed to guarantee prize-winning breed.

Every year, the procession follows the same route. And when the procession winds up at the Cathedral, discomforts are forgotten and there is the sense of accomplishment at having braved yet another Semana Santa.

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