For most Filipinos around the world, traditions and faith in God have no boundaries. The bonds that tie each family together makes Filipinos stronger among different communities and wherever they choose to live. For so many Filipinos who chose Edmonton as their home, the spirit of Filipino traditions is still present.
In last month’s celebration of Holy Week, the traditional “Pabasa” or the singing of the “Passion of Christ” was sponsored by the Filipino Senior Citizens Association (FSCA) – Edmonton. The “Pabasa” is a well-known Filipino tradition that evolves as a contemporary ritual; early forms of the Pabasa were introduced to the various indigenous people of the Philippines by Spanish friars spreading the Roman Catholic faith. Over the period of Spanish colonial rule from the late 16th century until 1898, indigenous Filipinos adapted the religious chanting of the Spanish priests and incorporated it into the ancient custom of singing epics. Here in Edmonton, this tradition has been continuously celebrated every year for the last 30 years. Early Filipino immigrants in Edmonton started this tradition and the Filipino Senior Citizens of Alberta (FSCA) is one of those Organizations that make this alive through the years.
For some millennials, they are not aware of or have even tried to experience the Pabasa. Pabasa was done by uninterrupted chanting of the Pasyon, an early 16th-century epic poem narrating the life, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The verses are based on the Bible. Readers are usually groups of individuals taking turns in chanting verses from the book known as the Pasyon, as a devotion made in fulfillment of a panata or a vow or some way of thanksgiving.
During last month’s Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, the organizers and some community leaders of the FSCA continued this tradition of Pasyon. There was a continuous chanting of the Pasyon from the morning of Maundy Thursday until the late afternoon and continued through to the morning of Good Friday until noon, concluded by the recitation of the Seven Last Words of Christ. Family and friends participated in the gathering.
As Catholics, the reflection of the Passion of Christ from His Crucifixion to His Resurrection though singing and chanting of verses are traditions that will never fade. The next generations of Filipino-Edmontonians will continually experience the values of a family tradition.