April 1, 2010. April Fools' Day.
As Jesus was beginning to bear His Cross, people were surrounding him. Youthful looking bare-chested soldiers (without beards) were positioning the Cross on His shoulders. Jesus seemed oblivious of the chaos around Him. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until I noticed the top right corner of the image. Isn't that a tambuli the man is playing?!
Reflections on the Stations of the Cross began inside the San Ildefonso Parish Church in Tanay. After prayers and meditation on the first two stations, I took a good look at the beautiful wood carvings. The reliefs were intricately designed, and the colours were so vivid, considering that these artworks were centuries old! Sadly, the colours did not transfer well to the photograph because of the intense yellow lighting coming through the church's windows.
The first station shows Jesus being brought by Roman soldiers to trial. A scribe was taking notes of the proceedings as onlookers watched through windows. A child seemingly handed over a pot to Pontius Pilate, hidden behind the table, as the woman beside the child was signalling with her hands. As I was taking a souvenir shot of the first station, I did a double take: Wait! Is that Roman soldier on the right holding a bolo?!?
Hmm... that made me give this artwork another look. I wasn't looking at Roman soldiers at all. Those were Spanish conquistadores bringing Jesus to a sultan-like Pontius Pilate to get tried!
Wow! Obviously, the artist has infused a lot of Asian and Filipino material into the artwork of the Stations of the Cross in this church! This artist seems to have a lot of angst against the Spaniards, depicting them as the Roman soldiers with bolos. Nick Joaquin has referred to this artist and called him the "Maestro of Tanay". Unfortunately, no one knows who the artist is. Too bad I wasn't able to look more closely at the rest of the stations because I wanted to study the facade of the church.
I thought that since it's Maundy Thursday, I would escape the pranks commonly connected with April Fools'. Apparently not. The first church in this year's visita iglesia has a sprinkling of local flavour that could be easily missed until the unexpecting pilgrim takes a closer look.