Passion of Christ moves survivors
PALO, Leyte, Philippines—Bernarda Cahutay has been watching the reenactment of the passion and death of Jesus Christ held on the grounds of Metropolitan Cathedral.
But this year, the presentation hit her in the core in the wake of the losses she suffered during Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”
She was so moved that she decided to visit the grave of her daughter, Cristile Joyce, 22, one of the more than 200 bodies hastily buried on the grounds of the cathedral shortly after Yolanda.
But her granddaughter, Cristile Joyce’s daughter Ma. Kriznel Joyce, was one of the 136 people still missing in Palo town, one of the hardest-hit areas in Leyte province.
Although they had not found the body of her 2-year-old granddaughter, they decided to put a wooden cross beside her mother’s grave as a reminder that they were both gone, Cahutay, 58, said.
“Of course, it was not easy for us to accept that they are gone already. But we just accepted it as God’s will. And just like during the height of the typhoon, I never questioned his will. I just prayed like what I am doing today, Good Friday,” Cahutay said.
Cahutay, who lost her house in the storm surge, said she never imagined that the reenactment, now on its 40th year and dubbed “Pamalandong,” would move her when she had been watching it for 20 years.
The reenactment made her remember what happened to her daughter and granddaughter, she added.
“It’s painful, of course. But who I am to question him?” she said, watching the grave, covered with sand and stone with two lighted candles on top.
The reenactment was held less than 50 meters from the grave site, which is about 100 square meters of the 10-hectare lot of the cathedral, known as Metropolitan Cathedral of Palo, the seat of Christianity in Eastern Visayas.
It is where the reenactment of the passion and death of Jesus Christ has been held since 1974.
This year’s reenactment, in the words of its narrator, Dexter Doncillo, was “more meaningful” compared to previous years.
“All the cast obviously internalized their characters because they knew this reenactment was done after Yolanda hit our town. We have dedicated this year’s reenactment to all the survivors of Yolanda,” Doncillo said.
Doncillo, 37, who works at the municipal office of the Commission on Elections, has been part of the Pamalandong since he was just 6 years old, playing one of the “children of Jerusalem.”
Mabel Sevilla, director of the reenactment, said she was happy that people, even coming from other areas of Leyte and Samar provinces, witnessed the reenactment despite the devastation of their areas more than five months ago.
She said it could be because witnessing the reenactment was already part of their devotion during Holy Week.
But the crowd size last Good Friday was reduced considerably, PO2 Charita del Agua said.
Based on their estimate, only about 3,000 people saw this year’s Pamalandong compared to the 6,000 who went to watch the 2013 presentation.
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