SO according to Fung’s comments in the previous entry, Albert and I indeed had a snore-fest the night before. (Sorry!) Anyway, it was a nice sunny morning on Day 2, and after doing my usual stretching exercises and push-ups, I prepared for the day’s activities. I made the mistake of not charging my camera battery before sleeping and I just hoped that it would last until the end of the day. (More on this later.)
After having breakfast, we boarded our jeepney to proceed to the town of Gasan. Having visited this town the day before, I was looking forward to visiting it again because it seemed to be a better-planned town than Boac. The streets are wider, hence, it appeared more spacious. It also had a nearby seaside boulevard called “Reyes Park” a short walking distance away from the town center (which contrasts to the inland atmosphere that Boac’s town center seems to exude.)
There was supposed to be a parade of Morions and “Giant” Morions (more pictures, yehey!) so it was important for us to reach Gasan early. True enough, a long stretch of the road was already blocked to give way to the parade. We had to alight our jeepney a few blocks from where we were supposed to be and brisk-walked towards a good spot. At this point, I’d note that Mr. Robert Uy – our travel mate – was in no hurry to catch up with us. Sometimes, I think not being a shutterbug is a kind of bliss because one gets to go from place to place at a more leisurely pace, and gets to focus more on what’s going on around oneself than worrying about whether one’s camera has the right settings.
It seems that we arrived just in the nick of time as the parade has just started in the other side of a line of town blocks. We then took our positions along the main avenue and made final checks on our white balance, ISO, shutter and aperture settings to get the perfect shots. In a couple of minutes, the Morions Arrived. The skies, however, played a joke when the lighting conditions changed halfway in the parade, with the result being that about half of the pictures I took were a bit underexposed. It was overall good though because we were well-positioned and it seemed like we were the only group of photographers that morning in Gasan.
The parade barely lasted a few minutes and we then went up a steep hill to reach the Catholic Church of Gasan. Remember my discussion on the town layout of Boac in my last blog? Well, apparently, Gasan is a better example of Spanish-era urban planning that communicates a sense of Church supremacy. The church in Gasan (currently unfinished) is built on a higher hill, and has a more commanding view of the town and the coast.
The structure itself is also larger than the old Boac Cathedral and is surrounded by more open spaces and balconies facing the coast. When we were there, they had tall and slender banners – the kind you see in beach resorts – propped up everywhere. It kind of clashes with the very formal architecture of the church itself, but it does enhance it’s appearance to counter it’s unpainted gray walls. I’ve read somewhere that while this church is new, there actually was a much, much older Church here that was destroyed by natural calamities. This new church however was patterned after the old one, and in fact, part of the ruins of the old church has been preserved and incorporated into the new structure.
Thankfully, since it is still unfinished, I was able to ascend the bell tower of the church. (I don’t know what it is about church bell towers that makes me want to ascend them. Then again, maybe that’s how I am with elevated areas in general, like lighthouses, cliffs, helipads, etc. I long ago discovered that I have no fear of heights. Anyway…) I wasn’t really able to take good shots of the surroundings since the bell tower’s windows were too small to take panoramic shots. Thankfully, the church has an interior balcony that extends outside. I was able to take better pictures there.
I got so engrossed in this church that I forgot to check my phone once in a while. When I finally checked it, I was aghast to discover that Jesse (Morqueda) has made 8 miscalls. I quickly left the church, went down the hill and looked for the group. I found them alright, just when Rico (Urbano) was being threatened by a female cult leader with fire and brimstone for taking shots of her with his camera. This was actually a very serious moment while it was happening, but quickly turned into the butt of jokes for the rest of our stay in Marinduque. If you’ve ever met Rico, you’d know that he’s the type of person who doesn’t talk a lot but always gets to say the last word, which is usually a funny quip. Seeing him dumbfounded by someone in a Nazareno outfit carrying a cross, however, is downright hilarious! 😀
Eventually, we had to rush back to Boac to catch the Way of the Cross, which would culminate in Jesus’ crucifixion and Longinus’ conversion. Again, we returned just in the nick of time as the sidewalks were already crowded with spectators anticipating the appearance of the Morions and the actors portraying Jesus and the 2 thieves. It was a good decision on my part to purchase a vented, wide-brimmed hat as there was hardly any shade in the Boac sidewalk where I positioned myself and I had to expose myself to the noontime sun when taking photos. Unfortunately, I wore a sleeveless jersey that day, so while my face and nape was well-protected from the heat, the whole length of my arms was scorched and quickly darkened in a matter of minutes.
I was somewhat disappointed to find very little solemnity in this supposedly traditional religious-based practice. The actors were solemn enough, but the crowd was unusually festive (and in some cases boorish) whereas everywhere else in the Catholic world, Good Friday is supposed to be the most somber and mournful day in the Church’s calendar. I will later on blog about my thoughts on the Moriones festival at length. Putting my thoughts here would digress too much from the narrative.
After going around a specified route in the town, the Morions and the other actors proceeded to the riverbank where a natural hill was used as a makeshift Calvary where the crucifixions were to take place. The town’s streets were almost emptied as seemingly the entire population of townsfolk and tourists all went to the dusty riverbank. Here, our TF group got separated as we all tried to find a spot as our vantage point to view the conclusion of this reenactment of Christ’s suffering and death.
It wasn’t wise to change lenses in a dusty environment, but since the spot I was on was not near enough, my 18-55mm kit lens would not be of much help in taking satisfactory shots of the “crucifixion”. (Note: It wasn’t an actual crucifixion. No hands were nailed, or anything.) So I had to switch to my 55-250mm lens. It turned out to be a good decision as a nice framing (i.e. excluding the spectators) was only possible in the 200+mm range. I’d say I was in a good position as I found myself somewhere in the middle and that I was a bit taller than anyone else in the crowd I found myself in.
[The crowd cracked up when the actor playing Jesus supposedly said, “Teka, teka, hawakan niyo…mahuhulog ako…” while crucified. I personally very hardly heard it, but I did see him saying it when the crowd laughed. Comedy on a Good Firday. Gotta love it. 😉 ]
So yeah, Jesus was “crucified”, Longinus spears his side, gets his blind eye splattered with blood, and supposedly regains his vision (but the mask still has the “unblinded” eye closed). He then makes a profession of faith upon being converted to Christianity – which is a bit weird because Christianity did not really exist yet when Jesus was on the cross. He then runs away to be beheaded on Sunday night. On a distantly related point, a lot of people were impressed by the realistic mournful weeping of the actress playing Mary while cradling the “dead” Christ in her arms.
By the time the show was over and everybody was walking back to the town center, my arms were already burned, I was perspiring all over, my throat was parched, I was dusty from the ankles up and I was really, really wishing that there was somewhere I could take a quick shower. After purchasing a liter of ice cold bottled water and drinking it all, I managed to find the TF group and we ended up in a canteen to have lunch. We were to return to Gasan after lunch to visit the Antipos/Flagellantes – who are Marinduque’s answer to Pampanga’s Penitentes, and to watch the acclaimed Good Friday Procession of Gasan before calling it a day and returning to our resort back in Boac.
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This entry is part of the Marinduque I series dated April 1-4, 2010:
1. Marinduque Day 1: Boac, Kabugsakan Falls and a bit of Gasan
2. Marinduque Day 2 (morning): Morion Parade in Gasan, Via Crucis in Boac
3. Marinduque Day 2 (afternoon): Back to Gasan, Back to Boac….with a boy genius and a lot of blood in between
4. Marinduque Day 3: Tres Reyes, Gaspar Island, Buenavista, Torrijos, etc.
5. Marinduque Day 4: The long goodbye