Tag Archives: tradition

Work Off On Holy Week

Background: The informant is a 59 year old woman. She was born in Pampanga, Philippines and moved to Los Angeles when she was 29 yearsold. The informant still frequently speaks to her family and occasionally visits her family in the Philippines. The informant grew up as Catholic in the Philippines, converting to evangelical Christianity during her time in Los Angeles. She was exposed to the tradition when living in the Philippines. 

Context: The context was during Easter, the informant brought up how he was raised. He seemed surprised at how it was different in America.

Text:

EM: For the Holy Week, you know Holy Week? It’s when Jesus, you know, suffered and died. We celebrate it for a week. Let’s say, you know, let’s say, for the whole week, there’s no work for the whole week. No class, no school, no work for the whole week.

Me: In the Philippines?

EM: In the Philippines. Not here. You know, all people work still, right? That’s what I remember: we don’t work. When I was there, still there, we don’t work the whole week, especially student, it was kind of like that.

Analysis:

Informant: She grew up with no work being normalized during Holy Week. When she came to America, it was extremely different from what she had previously experienced, and it took some adjusting to see everyone still working during the Holy Week.

Mine: It’s interesting to see how the same traditions are represented differently depending on the geographic location, revealing that, though the world is becoming more globalized due to the rise of the internet, there still remains a large amount of folklore tied to the physical location. In the Philippines, not working was considered the baseline expectation during the Holy week; in America, I have never heard of someone taking the Holy Week off work or other activities. Even Easter is not even afforded a three day weekend in most circumstances. The change in tradition is likely due to a different breakdown of religions in the two countries. In the Philippines, where the population is more homogenous, mostly everyone is going to be following the same faith. However, in America, pushing to have the Holy Week off work would reveal a government preference towards religion, leaving the choice to the individual. However, it could be seen as uncomfortable if nobody else is taking the time off work. Therefore, folklore can still be affected by social context, and extremely by who the group is made up with (is the group homogeneous or heterogeneous?) and where the physical location is.

Saint Peter Parades

Background: The informant is a 54 year old man. He was born in Pampanga, Philippines. The informant grew up as Catholic, later converting to evangelical Christianity and becoming a pastor. He was exposed to the tradition by living in the Philippines. 

Context: The context was, calling the informant on the phone and asking him about his religious traditions or experiences.

Text:

EM: “In every city, in every city, in the Philippines, there’s a Peter, they call, there’s a saint.”

Me: “Fate?”

EM: “There’s a saint. Like Saint Peter, Saint Paul. In every city they celebrate one saint. Like in my, like in the Philippines, remember when you were there, you saw these boats that’s like, you went around June, remember? And there were, like, boats, like, how do you call that, parading? 

Me: “Yeah”

EM: “People are so happy and then they parading on the roads also. That is Saint Peter. It’s like celebrating their birthday or whatever like that ” 

Me: “So for the city that your mother is in, it’s Saint Peter?”

EM: “It’s Saint Peter”

Me: “What city does [your mother] live in again?”

EM: “Pampanga.”

Analysis:

Informant: For the informant, it’s a communal celebration that allows people to come together to celebrate their beliefs. It’s an interactive experience that stuck with him.

Mine: Religious (Catholic) folklore is extremely popular in the Philippines, to the extent it appears to be organized by the government, given that there are parades. Assigning a Saint to every city is similar to the concept of having a guardian angel, but instead there is a guardian saint watching over their moves. It can be seen as a sign of comfort, as with a good luck charm, because it’s comforting to think that someone is watching over every single move someone takes, guiding them from harm. Celebrating their birthday is a major celebration for the entire community to come together in their belief of one saint. Interestingly, the celebration is not done in relation to church or other religious institutions, but rather by parading and boats. It could be a result of the city being so large, that the festivities need to somehow incorporate everyone. Not everyone might be able to travel to a church, but everyone can be outside and witness the parade. It’s a tradition that truly incorporates everyone. 

To see another version: Tiatco, A. P. (2010). Libad nang Apung Iru and Pamamaku king Krus : Performances of ambivalence in Kapampangan cultural spectacles. 91–102.

Filipino All Saints Day 

Background: The informant is a 54 year old man. He was born in Pampanga, Philippines. The informant grew up as Catholic, later converting to evangelical Christianity and becoming a pastor. He was exposed to the tradition by living in the Philippines. 

Context: The context was, calling the informant on the phone and asking him about his religious traditions or experiences.

Text:

PG: All Saints Day, All Saints Day, is November 1st, because trick or trick is October 31

Me: Is All Saints Day kind of like your day of the dead?

PG: Day of the Dead, is like, is like the entire cemetery is full pack is like people goes there they’re like having a celebration you know fiesta is like celebration right? Yeah we fiesta, we piesta, we celebrate, it’s like a party. All saints day, all people goes to the cemetery we don’t do it in the house everyone goes there and all cemetery all over the world is full of people they edo the party there they bring boombox.

Me: You know how on day of the dead people create offriendas, the shrine looking things, do you guys do that”

PG: “Shrine looking thing? No, they just bring flowers and candles and make them lit all day”

Analysis:

Informant: For the informant, he seems very excited about All Saint’s Day and what it entails. It is a celebration of life and death.

Mine: in this celebration, it is significant because it crosses between life and death. There is no boundary to the celebration. Normally, secretaries are associated with dreary activities, but during this holiday, it completely changes the stereotype of it. Everything is lively and it changes the usual opinion on death. Death doesn’t always need to be something to be mourned but can also be celebrated because the person has lived a good long life. Traditions can make someone reexamine the context of something and see it from a new perspective.

Good Friday Circumcision

Background: The informant is a 59 year old woman. She was born in Pampanga, Philippines and moved to Los Angeles when she was 29-years-old. The informant still frequently speaks to her family and occasionally visits her family in the Philippines. The informant grew up as Catholic in the Philippines, converting to evangelical Christianity during her time in Los Angeles. She was exposed to the tradition when living in the Philippines. 

Context: The context was that, it was Good Friday, and the informant was reminded of her traditions, and how they differ from America.

Text:

EM: “On Good Friday i remember it’s still now, until, I still remember but i don’t know if they do it until now but I’’m sure that it’s something that’s a tradition that they just won’t stop its the day that a lot of kids that have not been, uh, circumcised, they do the circumcision on that day, not in the hospital but someone that’s really expert on circumcision they do that, do the circumcision on that day for the boys.”

Me: “I see”


EM: “Because I remember my brothers, when they were circumcised on the day of good friday, i’ll, i’ll, and along with other, their friends, you know, and they plead–”

Me: “So, wait, how old would they be?”

EM: “Like, young.” 


Me: “Young? Okay.”

EM: “Young, like maybe”

Me: “Like toddlers?”


EM: “No, not toddlers. They don’t circumcise when they are babies, or toddlers. They, they circumcise when they’re like, little kids. Maybe–”

Me: “For like 6-10 years old, or like 5-10 years old?”

EM: “Yes, yes, not 5, a little older because i remember they are already a little, like, bigger, you know”

Me: “So would it be at home? Would you go to another person’s house? 

EM:“For the circumcision? I don’t really know but I see them like all together go in our backyard and clean them, theirselves, themselves, with like the guava leaves, they boil guava leaves, and clean themselves like, disinfect their own thing, you, their, their penises, they don’t go to the doctor for circumcision and cleaning it they clean it themselves and they wear, they wear, uh, my mom’s clothes because they walk like um, they have a funny look because they walk with open legs because they just got circumcised”

Analysis:

Informant: While she does not know the first-person perspective of the circumcision, she still saw the effects it had on her brothers. Given that all her brothers and friends took part in it, it was widespreadly accepted in the Philippines.

Mine: While circumcision is largely a practice done by doctors in the west, in the Philippines, it remains rooted in folk tradition. For example, cleaning themselves with the boiled guava leaves is folk medicine passed down and is still largely practiced, given that all the boys would do so. Additionally, the boy children are not circumcised as babies but rather as they are entering puberty, which may signal that the circumizing is actually a rite of passage into the entrance of adulthood, or of being a man. Interesting, though the rite is a purely masculine tradition, they don female clothes after the operation is done. While it’s done to help them walk, it still blurs the line between the male and female identity, signaling that for a brief moment after circumcision, the man is in the place of the woman. Why the rite might not be done as a child, as in America, may be for health reasons or in the attempt to allow the children to choose whether or not they wish to participate in the folk tradition. It seems to be a more modern practice, that people are opting out of always doing every tradition, and forming it to their own ideas.

Good Friday Penitencia 

Background: The informant is a 59 year old woman. She was born in Pampanga, Philippines and moved to Los Angeles when she was 29-years-old. The informant still frequently speaks to her family and occasionally visits her family in the Philippines. The informant grew up as Catholic in the Philippines, converting to evangelical Christianity during her time in Los Angeles. She was exposed to the tradition when living in the Philippines. 

Context: The context was that, it was Good Friday, and the informant was reminded of her traditions, and how they differ from America.

Text

EM: For Good Friday, do you know what they did to Jesus when they, how do you call it, you know they hit Jesus on the back, how do you call it?

Me: “Um, whipping?”

EM: “Whip them? Whip Jesus right? … So in my country on Good Friday, it’s like penitence, they call it penitence, I don’t know what the word penitence means. In Tagalog, we call it penitencia, it’s like, like hitting themselves to suffer, thinking that God will forgive them of their sins so what they do is on Good Friday, they [men] go and they cover, you know, they act like they’re Jesus that they, uh, someone will cut the back of their their back with uh, how do you– laser, is that a laser, or like a blade, they cut their skin on their back and then they have this little, like a whip, like a made up whip, made of bamboo, like little tiny bamboo, and they hit themselves, like hitting their, um–”

Me: “So basically they create like this blade or like some tool made out of bamboo and then they whip themselves?”

EM: “Yes and you can, it’s gruesome because you see blood all over their back. One of my brother did that.”

Analysis:

Informant: Though a portion of her religious tradition, the information found the process to be very gory and gruesome. Her tone was very uncomfortable and she didn’t seem to enjoy speaking on it.

Mine: Penitence is the act of wishing to repent for one’s action, which may result in self-flagellation, also called self-penance, which is the action of whipping or beating oneself in order to repent. By committing the action on Good Friday, it parallels how Jesus was crucified, by both being extremely bloody and gruesome. Though the men are whipping themselves to repent, given the holiday, it also seems that they are trying to inflict pain on themself in order to take the pain away from Jesus, though he lived a long time ago. It seems to state that since Jesus suffered on Good Friday, everyone should have to suffer alongside him. In this bloody way, a covenant is formed with Jesus, that they will be together. Also, it forms a strong bond with the other men who are committing self-flagellation because they are all suffering and going through a harrowing experience at the same time. The informant’s description of it as gruesome reflects that one doesn’t have to enjoy every single aspect of their culture. There is not a homogenous brain in everyone, rather people are able to make decisions on what they like or dislike based on their own preferences.

To see another version, Tiatco, A. P. & Bonifacio-Ramolete, A. (2008). Cutud’s Ritual of Nailing on the Cross: Performance of Pain and Suffering. 58–76.