A Good Friday Roadside Scene (Tarlac)

On our way back to Manila from our Holy Week vacation at Lingayen (Pamgasinan) with my kids Jandy and Cheska, we encountered, along the highway in Camiling, a group of barefoot Filipino men  marching along the road, one carrying a heavy wooden cross while others were whipping their already bloody backs.  Curious, we stopped and parked our Toyota Revo along the road to join the crowd of onlookers observing this annual, gory Good Friday religious ritual.

A gory Good Friday roadside staple

During the Lenten season, many Filipino devotees (including some women), as a form of worship and supplication, perform religious penance during the week leading up to Easter Sunday.  However, these practices, widely believed by devotees to cleanse sin, cure illnesses and even grant wishes, are discouraged by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines who describe them as “inappropriate.”  However, these practices cannot be easily relinquished as it is already embedded in local culture and tradition. 

The man with the cross

Normally, those carrying the cross wear a maroon robe but the man we observed was, like the others, just naked from the waist up.  His face, also like the others, was covered by a piece of cloth with a crown of leaves on their head.  Bloody gashes, from the repeated strikes of their whips, could be seen on the backs of the flagellants who believe that their sacrifice would, somehow, grant salvation for their sins.

The self-flagellants

The self-flagellation ritual starts with the tying of ropes around the arms and legs of the flagellants (the one carrying the cross was similarly tied).  Then, with a blades, wounds are inflicted on their backs.  They then march, under the scorching heat of the sun, for about 4 to 5 hours.  Every 500 m. or so, they stop to rest.

Sison Cultural and Heritage Center (Lingayen, Pangasinan)

From the Provincial Capitol, Jandy, Cheska, Janet, Katrina and I proceeded to the just newly restored Sison Auditorium which was just a few blocks away. The pre-World War II Sison Auditorium, now the Sison Cultural and Heritage Center, was built from 1926 to 1927.

Sison Auditorium

Sison Cultural and Heritage Center

Formerly known as the Grand Provincial Auditorium in the 1930s, iti was a popular venue for zarzuelas and other cultural performances in pre-war and early post-war period.  The auditorium was later renamed after the late governor Teofilo Sison, the first Pangasinense to become secretary of National Defense.

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From 2008-2010, it was restored and refurbished by Gov. Amado T. Espino, Jr. and was inaugurated on April 5, 2010.  The refurbished Neo-Clasical-style auditorium, now a venue for cultural activities in the region, was meticulously designed to compete with the best cultural centers in the land.  

Cheska "performing" on stage

Cheska “performing” on stage

This beige and white colonnaded building has a 7-bay loggia  with round, monolithic columns with Classical capitals supporting a semicircular arch.  Above each column are circular tondi (roundels) set in spandrels (the space between arches). Its intricately handcrafted interiors includes state-of-the-art lighting and a majestic chandelier, imported from Austria, hanging from the highest point of the ceiling.

The majestic chandelier

The majestic chandelier

Sison Cultural and Heritage Center: Capitol Compound, Lingayen, Pangasinan

Pangasinan Provincial Capitol (Lingayen)

The Pangasinan Provincial Capitol

The Pangasinan Provincial Capitol

At the Capitol Grounds, Jandy, Cheska, Katrina, Janet and I visited the Provincial Capitol.  Built in 1912 (one of the first to be built in the country) during the term of Gov. Daniel Maramba, this imposing “Potomac Greek” building is, for me, the most beautiful in the country.  We first saw it when we arrived at the town at night, its stately marble columns beautifully lit.

The beautifully lit Provincial Capitol at night

The beautifully lit Provincial Capitol at night

Surprisingly, it was open during this holiday and the caretaker allowed us to climb its exquisite spiral staircase to visit the Governor’s Office and  the Provincial Board Room. At the latter, we got to sit at the Vice-Governor’s chair, handle a gavel and “preside” over a meeting.

The winding stairway

The winding stairway

Cheska, Katrina, the author, Janet and Jandy at the Governor's Office

Cheska, Katrina, the author, Janet and Jandy at the Governor’s Office

Later, we went up the roof deck where Commonwealth Pres. Manuel L. Quezon used to host elegant receptions and parties before World War II.

View of the Capitol grounds and Lingayen Gulf from the roof deck

View of the Capitol grounds and Lingayen Gulf from the roof deck

Here, we had a panoramic view of the Capitol Grounds, Lingayen Gulf and the town. The west wing was restored after destruction by shelling in 1945.

Lingayen (Pangasinan)

After breakfast at the resort, we still had time to kill before leaving for Manila in the afternoon of Good Friday, so I decided to explore Lingayen town in detail, notably the Capitol Grounds.  Together with my children Jandy and Cheska, we also brought along our Hundred Islands companions (and resort guests) Janet and Katrina.

The Provincial Capitol Gounds

The Provincial Capitol Gounds

Lingayen has two architecturally distinct and culturally disparate districts, one Spanish and the other American.  The older, more populous Spanish section, which escaped the destruction of World War II, was built inland and clustered around the plaza with its municipal building and the market.

Urduja House

Urduja House

The newer American seafront district, built near the Lingayen Gulfis more spacious, with a promenade and wide-spreading flame trees. It consists of many provincial government buildings including the Provincial Capitol and Urduja House, all located in the Capitol Grounds.