salubong

For most Christians, Easter Sunday ends the 40-day Lent and the three-day mourning following the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross. It is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year.

Only in the Philippines

Every Easter, Philippine Catholics have their own unique way of welcoming their most important feast. They called this “Salubong”. In iloilo, “Dampug”. Cecille Felipe and Felix Delos Santosos of the STAR describe the celebration: “At the dawn of this day of celebration, a semblance of angels will appear in most Catholic churches all over the Philippines. These “angels” are the little girls who remove the lambong or veil of mourning of the image of the Blessed Mother shortly after processions at Easter dawn, signifying the resurrection of Jesus.”

“This ritual is popularly known as salubong because this is done in a procession where the men and women are separated and coming from different directions. But they eventually meet in front of the church,” says Dez Bautista, a religious researcher.

The men are led by the image of the Resurrected Christ while the Blessed Mother, still covered in a black veil, comes in the front line of the women.

Salubong signals a new beginning not for Jesus but for us. He paid with His life to save us from our sins and this means a new life for us,” says Bautista.

The reason behind the celebration

According to Fr Joel Tabora, S.J., Salubong is a celebration which actually has its roots in Ignatian spirituality! In Ignatius’ personal intimacy with Jesus and devotion to His Mother Mary, he noticed Sacred Scripture never mentions Jesus appearing to his grieving mother after his resurrection. But instead of being troubled by this, he argued that any person with right reason and a modicum of insight would understand that Jesus could not have done otherwise than appear first to his mother after his Resurrection.

Out of this insight, came the popular devotion in the Philippines of the Salubong, depicted, by the way, of the Filipinos’ representation of Easter. It is the celebration of Jesus meeting his mother before all others and consoling her after his Resurrection. Here, a somber procession of sorrow, led by the grieving Mother shrouded in a dark mourner’s veil, encounters a procession of light and triumph, joy and festivity, led by the Resurrected Lord. When Jesus meets his mother, her veil of sadness is removed by an angel of the Lord. She is elated in his life; he is gladdened in her elation. And this is the doctrinal content of the Philippine devotion.

While the Philippine Department of Tourism did not include the Salubong under its list of Philippine Festivals, Iloilo Hangout considers this unique religious-cultural event distinctively and proudly Filipino!

Happy Easter!- Iloilo Hangout

Article sources: Easter Vigil Celebration by: Fr. Joel Tabora, S.J. (www.philjesuit.net) and STAR by Cecille Felipe and Felix Delos Santosos, www.catholic.org, Photo source: philippinefestivalss.blogspot.com