An offering of Pabasa

Text and photos by: Chris Quintana

“Yeah, take me to the old church,” I told the tricycle driver on the way to the fishing village of San Antonio in Bay, Laguna. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to see tourists there, I thought to myself, the village being a quiet fishing community, though it is believed that the town itself originated from the fishing settlement. As we approached the local village government multipurpose hall and basketball court, I started to hear chanting. It was being broadcast through loud speakers that almost the whole village could hear it, a slow waltz accompanied by almost wailings alternating in each stanza. I found what I was looking for.

An old, broken-down church in the village of San Antonio in Bay, Laguna. Photo by: Chris Quintana

An old, broken-down church in the village of San Antonio in Bay, Laguna. Photo by: Chris Quintana

I alighted from the tricycle and went to the direction of the old church just beside an area from where the lonely a cappella was coming from. A boy followed me as I walked through the metal gates. “Nobody else goes there anymore but you can take a look around. They’re holding the mass and other church activities in the basketball court.” “Is that so?” I replied. This old church was magnificent, being perched on concrete posts and resting above the lake, and a footbridge serving as an entrance. But I guess there just had been too many storms. Dilapidated, torn-off roofs could still be seen on the right side of the wall, a sad image as if going along the by the sad music in the background.

I went to the village multipurpose hall and saw some men and women busy preparing what obviously was going to be lunch. I was surprised, though, that it was a bit plentiful. A few women greeted me as they were setting up the buffet with large woks filled with simple, traditional dishes. They told me they were with the Legion of Mary, a church organization. They, together with the village officials, were hosting the activity. “Have your lunch here and eat with us,” said a lady. “Sure,” I replied, “I’ll just check out the women singing.”

An image of the Black Nazarene is on stage in front of the table where elder women sing the Pabasa on Maundy Thursday in the village of San Antonio in Bay, Laguna. Photo by: Chris Quintana

An image of the Black Nazarene is on stage in front of the table where elder women sing the Pabasa on Maundy Thursday in the village of San Antonio in Bay, Laguna. Photo by: Chris Quintana

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