Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Giwang Giwang

I've been trying to do a search on the internet on "gewang gewang" and came up with someone by the name of Ge Wang :) Then I found a wowphilippines events page that had "giwang giwang" and then I realized that I had mispelled the phrase. I saw many people with their cameras during the Good Friday event in Binangonan and I was hoping at least 1 of them would post it on youtube or flickr or the like. I found one picture on flickr but no video. Unfortunately I only got to take one shot of the event this year and not a very good one at that.

You can see Jojo on the lower-right corner of this picture (he's the bald one between the two big men :) It's been his panata since 2002 (I think he did it too before going to the States). It's the 2nd part of the Good Friday procession where the sepulkro (the life-sized image of the crucified Jesus lying down) is carried by men through the streets. It is similar to the Feast of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo but with lesser devotees and narrower streets...

It's one, if not the biggest, event of the year in Binangonan. Many people come home to be part of or to witness the event. Though it's Good Friday and the mood is supposed to be somber, the awaiting of the procession and especially the giwang-giwang has a sort of festive atmosphere. It was my mom's first time to see the event and though Benjo has seen it a couple of times, he is now old enough to kind of understand. At first we were worried that Benjo would want to join in, but he realized that it was only for men. "Ang tagal ni daddy", ("Daddy's taking so long"), he said while waiting for the giwang-giwang. It was probably around an hour 'til they did come and it was already around 10pm. Benjo fell asleep while sitting on his Ate Annie's lap while looking over the balcony to the street below.

So when the sweaty and tired men carrying the glass container carrying Jesus came, I tried waking Benjo. It was what he was waiting for - even counting down the days - and I didn't want him to miss it. He opened his eyes groggily and then fell asleep again. After several attempts I decided to lay him down. He then opened his eyes at the sound of the men shouting outside. I told him it was the giwang-giwang and asked if he wanted to go out. At that, he jumped up and went out to look at the commotion below.

They call it giwang-giwang, because the sepulkro is swayed (not intentionally I think) going back and forth and side-by-side. The men are squeezed really tightly and others try to push their way towards the sepulkro. It can be a scary sight thinking that someone is sure to get hurt in the crowd. There have been cases in the past where people have actually died. This year, thank God, no one did. Joselyn, who saw her daddy in the group of men, actually cried and was scared for her daddy.

My personal thoughts on the giwang-giwang... for some it may be a spiritual experience, to touch and help hold up the sepulkro. It may seem obsessive, fanatical or even idolatrous to others. I appreciate it for it's traditional worth. Binangonan is rich in tradition and this is one that is unique to them and one they are proud of. I do love viewing the images of the Saints and the different stages of Jesus' way to the cross during the procession. This helps me visualize the actual biblical events. I also admire how some would go to pains in being part of the procession and the giwang-giwang. But in itself, the giwang-giwang and some of the related activities have not helped me spiritually and quite honestly, I would rather spend a quiet day in prayer and meditation.

But as a family, we follow my husband's lead and hold on to this tradition. He says though that when the time comes when he feels that he isn't as strong as he is now, he'll just be part of the crowd walking behind, instead of being part of the crowd of men pushing and shoving to carry the sepulkro.


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