Gewang Gewang

We spent Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Black Saturday at my mom’s hometown in Pila-Pila, Binangonan, Rizal. This is one of the many towns of Rizal that hasn’t fully succumbed to urbanization yet. It isn’t that far from Manila, in fact we reached this place an hour after we left Cavite last Thursday since there’s hardly any traffic. As we were entering Pila-pila, I remembered the times when we would go here to visit my Lola. Pila-pila is at the foot of a mountain. When I was a kid, we used to travel here at dawn in our owner-type jeep. My sister and I used to marvel at how big and scary the mountain was with its big boulders and bamboos. My dad often regale us with stories about how they chased an aswang in that same mountain and how he saw a Kapre smoking a pipe on one of the big trees along the road. Of course all those stories were designed to tickle our imagination but I have to admit, we ate them up.:)

I was surprised to learn that Lenten traditions like pabasa, senakulo, penitensya and prusisyon are still practiced in this place. Whereas religious traditions have slowly faded into the distant memories of people in urban towns, they are still very much alive here. Last Friday night, we trooped to the Bayan to watch the prusisyon (procession) and witness the Gewang-Gewang. I heard so much about Gewang-Gewang from my mom. It is the highlight of their Good Friday procession. It is called Gewang Gewang because devotees of the Santo Sepulcro (Jesus Christ in his coffin) try to squeeze themselves closer to the Santo Sepulcro so they can help carry it. They believe that all their prayer intentions and petitions will be granted if they will be able to touch or carry the Santo Sepulcro. Because of the surge of devotees trying to get near the Santo Seplucro, it moves in a gewang-gewang (topsy-turvy) motion. It takes hours before the Santo Sepulcro enters the church again. There is a story going around that the Santo Seplucro will not leave a certain place if it stops in front of a house where the owner planted his anting-anting (amulet). It is believed that it is one way of testing if it is still working and unless the owner digs and removes it from the ground, the Santo Sepulcro and the procession will not proceed even if the carriers willed it to move forward. For some reasons, it will just move back and forth as if a magnet is forcing it to stay. The procession that night started at 6 am and the Santo Sepulcro was brought back to the church a little over 3 am because it kept on moving at such slow pace.

We had a good view from where we were. We saw how the devotees fought their way closer to the Santo Sepulcro. In the course of their struggle, they get hurt. One devotee shared that they don’t mind getting wounded and crushed since to them these are all part of their sacrifice. We saw how others stepped on other men’s arms, legs, shoulders and even faces in their desire to reach the Santo Sepulcro. Some men that night were seen being fished out and carried by others to safety. And most of them were gasping for breath as they try to push the Santo Sepulcro. One man even suffered heart attack that night. It was very much like the Feast of the Black Nazarene. My cousin who has been a devotee of the Santo Sepulcro since he was a teenager shared that all his prayer intentions are granted whenever he joins the “buhat” (carrying of the Santo Sepulcro). Most of the devotees I have spoken to share the same sentiments that is why it has become every man’s panata in this town to join the Gewang-Gewang every Good Friday. To others, it has even become their initiation to manhood.

After witnessing Gewang Gewang for myself, I can’t help but admire these people for they truly were never afraid to show just how far they can take their faith in God. I admire how they have kept this tradition very much alive until now. How through their deep faith in the divine, they have managed to preserved this part of our culture. I am glad that I brought my 10 year old daughter to witness this with me. In the event that this tradition die a natural death like the others, at least my daughter has it engraved in her memory.

16 Comments on Gewang Gewang

  1. Traveling Morion
    April 13, 2012 at 2:15 pm (6 years ago)

    sa Pinas tlaga to” part of being filipino ang traditions and practices na ganito,,, good to know napapractice pa rin

  2. marri
    April 12, 2012 at 9:38 am (6 years ago)

    We have a million ways of showing our faith and
    we sometimes forget the true essence of being spiritual.
    Having this kind of tradition just proves that our beliefs are
    bringing us to one place and one heart.

  3. mheanne ojeda
    April 10, 2012 at 2:21 pm (6 years ago)

    oh Binangonan, Rizal is where my aunt lives so we visit there often. I haven’t heard about Gewang – Gewang which makes me think upon reading the title as a rocking chair or a “drunkard” na pagewang gewang haha. But reading the post and looking at pictures I realized it is a religious procession similar to the Quiapo one, right?

  4. Elal Jane Lasola
    April 10, 2012 at 8:24 am (6 years ago)

    I am actually afraid sa mga places na too crowded esp sa events. I hope you had a meaningful lent!

  5. Budget Biyahera
    April 10, 2012 at 3:29 am (6 years ago)

    Oh, so that’s what Gewang-Gewang means.. It’s actually amazing that you still managed to take a few snapshots of the actual procession. Such a remarkable moment to witness such devote culture.

  6. Gemma
    April 10, 2012 at 3:15 am (6 years ago)

    kitang kita ang pagka devoted and religious mga pinoy no? .. what mind and beliefs can do talaga.. .hahamakin lahat lahat lahat!

    • Blanca
      April 10, 2012 at 11:30 am (6 years ago)

      ahahaha Gemma, sinabi mo.:)

  7. Francis Balgos
    April 10, 2012 at 1:51 am (6 years ago)

    you must have made good use of the holy week holidays..
    Im currently base in Makati, and you’d be surprise if you knew that people here are doing Pabasa as well..
    It was rather hard for me, considering that I was working while everyone is on holiday.
    The highway’s are open though free of clogging traffics 🙂

  8. athena/april
    April 9, 2012 at 11:03 pm (6 years ago)

    i was wondering why it was called gewang-gewang. seemed like a foreign term to me.

  9. Cha
    April 9, 2012 at 6:21 pm (6 years ago)

    This is an authentic manifestation of Filipino piety and religiosity!

  10. gayE
    April 9, 2012 at 5:59 pm (6 years ago)

    I wonder how long it’s been called gewang-gewang, and what they used to call such event. Odd name (at least for me) for a religious event, but catchy.

    April 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm (6 years ago)

    I didn’t know Laguna had a tradition similar to that of the Black Nazarene. I can’t say I admire this tradition though.

    • Blanca
      April 10, 2012 at 11:36 am (6 years ago)

      Ahahaha, this did not happen in Laguna, this is from Rizal.

  12. joan
    April 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm (6 years ago)

    may ganito pala sa laguna? ang galing akala ko black nazarene sa quiapo lang ang may ganito. like you, I’m amazed din how great their faith is. ang galing talaga ng tradition natin, dito nakikita ang pagiging uniquely pinoy.

    • Blanca
      April 10, 2012 at 11:36 am (6 years ago)

      Hi Joan, sa Rizal to hindi sa Laguna.:)

  13. Mary jane
    April 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm (6 years ago)

    it so amazing how we, filipinos were so much into this kind of thing and practices being so active in this modern world! i bet all foreigner would feel the awesomeness if the twill actually see things like this. xx


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