CBCP: ‘No’ to changing ‘Pabasa’ tune
The sound of voices in monotonous chanting – known as the “Pabasa” – now waft the air in many barangays in Metro Manila and the provinces, as part of the rituals and traditions of Holy Week. Anticipating that some young people may enliven the tune with the melody of popular songs and the beat of rap, as was observed last year, the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines (CBCP) issued a statement discouraging the new melody of the traditional chant.
The “Pabasa,” which started Holy Monday, is the ritual reading of the “Pasyon”, an epic poem in stanzas of five lines of eight syllables, each interwoven with a dramatic theme recounting the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Devotees continue the ritual out of a “panata” or a vow.
No To ‘Roar’ Or Rap
To keep within tradition, the CBCP frowns on the use of the melody of modern songs in the delivery of the traditional ‘Pabasa” such as “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus or “Roar” by Katie Perry, even if that could attract more young people to the ritual.
Father Conegundo Garganta, executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Youth, said he would rather that the youth do the “Pabasa” the old way as that is more meditative.
“The pabasa is a form of prayer and as a form of prayer it’s an opportunity for us to really reflect and not entertain ourselves,” he said in an interview.
The sentiment was also echoed by Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, noting the way how some used rap to enliven the tone of the ‘pasyon’.
‘Pabasa’ Is Prayer
‘It’s a form of prayer that’s why you have the crucifix and the image of Mama Mary there to serve as a reminder to the faithful to whom they are chanting for,” he said.
“Pabasa is not ordinary singing rather chanting. The tone should not be very secular because it’s religious chanting,” added Castro.“They should imitate how the elders do the pabasa from its tone, timing as this is more meditative.”
“In a way it’s also a form of sacrifice on their part…these popular songs we get to hear every day so it should be different at least during this period that we are focused in praying,” added Garganta.
The “Pabasa” is said to be a Christian adaptation of a pre-Hispanic Filipino custom of chanting epic poems.
Other Holy Week Rituals
In some provinces, penitents carry small whips and flag their back while walking for long distances. Some carry wooden crosses and wear a crown of thorns, and walk under the scorching summer heat. In churches, penitents “walk” on their knees from the main door to the altar.
Many devotees, especially those who own images depicting the passion of Christ, are now preparing the images for the traditional Holy Wednesday procession tomorrow, and on Good Friday.
Also known as Great Tuesday, Church officials continue to call on the faithful to perform acts of charity and self denial and to go to confession as well as to follow in their prayers with readings from the Holy Bible. Catholic parishes will extend their confessional services today until Good Friday to give churchgoers more time to go to confession.