Sunday, December 25, 2011

Panunuluyan: A Christmas Drama

Today when we attended the Misa de Aguinaldo (Christmas Midnight Mass), we witnessed the Panunuluyan or dramatization of the birth of our Lord Jesus.

The Panunuluyan dramatizes the search for lodging of the Holy Couple, Jose and the very pregnant Maria. Originally, the images of the two, atop decorated carrozas, are processioned on Christmas eve and taken from house to house, in re-enactment of that event in Bethlehem. The images are preceded by altar boys bearing ciriales (cross and candles on poles) and devotees. Eventually, real people, instead of santos, were cast to assume the roles of Jose and Maria, almost always respectable citizens of the town. The dramatis personae expanded to include the 3 Magis, Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar and even a Narrator and a Koro, a Chorus of singers who sang and delivered verses for the Holy Couple.

Four or five houses are selected as “inns”, to be visited by the Holy Couple, who either walked on foot, rode a gareta (bull cart) or in some cases, rode the back of a large animal like a carabao or donkey. The yards and balconies were often spruced with Christmas décor like lights and lanterns. At the first house, San Jose begs the “innkeeper” for a room, chanting the verses in octo-syllabic quatrains. The “innkeeper” sings his response, claiming his house is full, thus turning the couple away. The couple moves on to the next house, and then to the next, meeting the same cold response. Finally, the procession winds back to the church plaza, where a stable has been constructed. It is here that Maria delivers Jesus, amidst the ringing of bells and the celebration of a Misa de Aguinaldo, the last of the Simbang Gabi (nightly Masses).

Here is the recorded video of the Panunuluyan of San Roque Cathedra (It is very dark inside the church so you can only hear the audio and sound effects).


Christmas Greetings

For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of Eternity], Prince of Peace.
-[Isa. 25:1; 40:9-11; Matt. 28:18; Luke 2:11.]

Merry Christmas to All!

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