The afternoon of Good Friday in San Pablo City, Laguna is a magnet for the devout, religious, tourists, plain spectators, practically everyone regardless of background. This is because of the city’s annual procession of carrozas detailing the life of Jesus Christ. These larger than life statues provide a vivid image and source of imagination for those who would want to recall the life of Christ and for those who only want to get a feel of being in the midst of a prusisyon.
After waiting for the scorching April heat to subside, we trooped to the patio of the San Pablo Cathedral (Saint Paul the First Hermit Cathedral Parish) where a makeshift stage was erected already for the commencement of the Good Friday program. It surprised me that we were able to witness the opening ceremonies: from the installation of this year’s hermano mayor, hermana mayor, and grand marshall, to the short message given by Don Conrado ‘Ado’ Escudero (of the Villa Escudero fame).
Don Ado’s message definitely was a sobering one. He started by saying that he is already 82 years old and this annual activity has already come a long way. He recalled that after World War II they would search for whatever remained of the images on the carrozas (they call them ‘poon’), piece them together, and assist the families in getting them back to life. Wisdom is indeed earned and learned in time for he relayed to the waiting people how organized it was during his time when people would not fight their way to the carrozas just to get a piece of the flowers decorating them. He asked for the cooperation of the people for a peaceful activity to occur.
As if in recognition of that plea, the organizers reminded everyone that each passing carroza will only be given the incense and not the blessing of the holy water yet so that the procession could proceed smoothly. However, we were amused to find people in jeepneys with flowers in hand. They obviously got a hold of them during the procession proper, not knowing that they were not yet blessed, something that is of a great deal at least from the Catholics’ viewpoint.
This religious activity, a comparatively solemn one, gives one a view of the need to look into one’s self and reflect. The images and all the prusisyon can be a catalyst of some sort, but searching to your own self is a personal activity, something that you must do on your own.