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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.

Epic Poem

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.

 Great Tuesday

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.

  • Adeno Sine

    Even music from centuries ago were simply based from what the current trends at the time were. It just so happens that slow chants were the thing during their time. I see no reason why people should not be able to interpret old songs in modern styles as long as the original message is there.

    No form of music is “evil”, it’s the message that counts.

  • Just_JT

    Other religions are just envious of the Catholics for they have no tradition to speak of.

    • Guest

      I’d rather observe NO TRADITION than MAN MADE TRADITIONS.

      • Just_JT

        Having no tradition shows that the religion is just invented or formed. Man had been in existence for a long time. Don’t tell me that God just showed up recently and just manifested the ‘true’ religion.

        • arnente

          Mark 7:9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

          This is what Jesus said to those people who’s hearts have been hardened with their man-made traditions. It is wiser to believe JESUS’ definition of true religion than in your own preconceived definition of it.

          In James 1:27, Jesus said “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

          This means true religion don’t make WIDOWS nor FATHERLESS children. Now if you will only open your eyes to the truth of what is recorded in the history regarding your church and the origins of your man-made traditions, you will only be lying to yourself if you will say your religion is unspotted and undefiled.

  • wes

    Another part of the ‘pagan’ catholic church here in the Philippines and what good does happen from all that chanting?..after doing it people still go on drinking alcohol, cock fighting, gambling and adultery..

    • Guest

      They have been doing this for decades and nothing ever changes. Sad, they only have only have one week to observe Holiness.

  • bi ceps

    This gotta be the most useless piece of news I’ve come across.