Today I solved a long-standing personal mystery: why were there so few people who attended the regular Easter masses at church.
And the answer: they all attended the Pagsugat.
Pagsugat, a Visayan word, means Meeting. Its Tagalog equivalent is Sugatan. It's a long-standing Filipino Easter tradition whereby the Risen Christ meets His Mother.
Oh, I know, it's not mentioned anywhere in the Bible. But wouldn't it stand to reason that the very first person Jesus Christ would appear to after His resurrection would be His Beloved Mother? It's just so very human.
The local Pagsugat started out at 3:30AM from the parish grounds. There were two processions, one accompanying the image of the Risen Christ, the other with the Blessed Virgin Mary. They took different routes around the barangay. The meeting point would be at Victoria Plaza.
Mom and I arrived at the site at around 3:45AM. Already there was a huge gathering. All in all, I estimated around at least 2,000 people, young and old alike. It seemed like the entire neighborhood was there for the event.
Other Pagsugat celebrations would have a child, dressed as an angel, hoisted up on a wire to lift up the veil from the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It's a cute touch, but the church community decided to eschew such acrobatics in favor of a choir.
The choir, composed of kids in angel regalia, were high up on two platforms. At 4:00AM, they were already singing in anticipation of the actual meeting. The images came in, brought on the shoulders of devotees.
At around 4:30AM, the Mass started. T'was an open-air Mass on the parking lot. Ordinarily, I don't like having the celebration outside church, but this was a great exception.
Now, lest you think this was such a holy event, here's a real mood spoiler: Possibly the only incident to mar this Christian celebration happened when two kids tried to sneak away with our chairs. Since the event was outdoors, it was wise to bring our own chairs, which we did. While I was away taking photos, my Mom stood up to stretch her legs. Two young girls sat on our chairs. Mom didn't shoo them away, thinking they just needed a bit of rest.
Then Mom turned away momentarily, and when she looked back, the two girls were already walking away with the chairs. Mom snarled (ah, that's where I got that trait) and grabbed our furniture. Said shameless girls just pretended like nothing happened.
Por diyos por santo! Wala'y ulaw! Mga kawatan gyud!