When I was very young, we used to head up to Baguio during Holy Week and I distinctly recall our car getting stuck in the middle of a group of hundreds of penitents on the road, whipping themselves with sharp shells and several who were dragging crosses before being crucified for several hours. I think a bit of blood or bloodied sweat even splattered on the window of the car. And to this day, that fairly traumatic experience is burned into my memory banks… While it may have been a bit shocking to experience this in my single digits, I certainly recognize the incredible importance of the next few days for many Catholics. But instead of the real life re-enactments, I thought it might be more visually appealing to photograph this crucifixion that I inherited from my mother/grandmother… Done in ivory, it is a beautiful piece of art, with some incredible detailing when viewed up close.


I was never really into santos, religious icons, or ivory, but when my ancestors passed away, we were left with pieces that had been with the family for quite some time. Previously, I featured ivory pieces here, and here, and this is the last significant piece of a religious sort. I think these pieces will eventually end up in a museum, so that they can be viewed by the public instead of remaining in private hands. We have already loaned or donated several of the religious artifacts in my Lola’s collection back to churches and church museums in Cebu and I hope that more and more folks with private collections of this sort will eventually loan them or donate them to museums for public enjoyment…


We are away for a few days and will probably not have extensive access to the internet. I hope those of you who are in the Philippines have a safe and restful “Holy Week” holiday and for folks abroad, stay tuned, Marketman will be back and posting in a few days! Meanwhile, I will probably re-post a few older entries from the archives…

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16 Responses

  1. may you have a safe and blessed Holiday,MM and family. in the meantime, i’ll go over the archives and enjoy the infos and pictures..i’m sure you’ll have lots to tell when you come back..

  2. Years ago, I was invited to a friend’s home during holy week in Balanga, Bataan. Being a non-Catholic, I’ve never seen “penitencia” parade up close and never realized how gory it can get. It’s quite amazing on how these penitents don’t end up with infections after whipping/flogging themselves to bloody pulp with smashed glass or “bubog.”

    The entire scene was quite intense and National Geographicesque…

  3. The Roman soldiers flogging the flagelants in my town, Abucay, the town you reach before Balanga if you are coming from Manila wore Ray-bans and wrist-watches. My dad assured me though that the watch faces were in Roman numerals.

  4. I remember when I was a kid, in my elementary years, my dad took me to watch “senakulo” in our area. When I asked what it was, he would say it’s the life story of Jesus, he would say “panooren mo maganda ito”. He took me from the first night of showing until the last night. It was boring at first, but I got the hang of it. There were lots of people, kids specially, so it was extra fun, I saw old faces, kids from the neighbourhood, kids from school, it was just fun! Did I mention that they have food stall as well? Selling gulaman, kakanins, palbok, lugaw, mami oh name it! I was entertained and well fed! As I get older, and through school teachings, I was able to understand the meaning of it and I really appreciate watching it!

    Now, having my own family, I would love to let my daughter experienced the same thing too! Having to experience it that close would allow her to better inderstand the life and death of Christ and the sacrifices he endured for us!

    Have a nice trip MM!

  5. am looking forward to bringing our sons to the “salubong” (“pagsugat” in Cebuano), that Easter daybreak meeting between the crucified Christ and the weeping Madonna, complete with little girls dressed as angels. our two sons are in their late teens but they’ve never witnessed one of my favorite Filipino traditions.

  6. oh my. i’ve been too lost in blogworld and away from the Philippines that I forgot it’s Holy week. THANK YOU for reminding me.

  7. My dad’s aunt have these life size statues in their house and they scared me when I was a kid.

  8. MM– that is a truly beautiful ivory piece. it is obviously very carefully crafted ( note the drapery and teh facial expression). thanks for sharing it with your readers.
    Apicio — what a wonderful sense of humor you have! please keep on with the comments

  9. MM & Family and to all MarketManila adherents, May you have a blessed and restful holy week.
    We look forward to the coming posts with eagerness, I’m sure there will be new and wonderful stories in store.

  10. Oh this is the time too when they show biblical epics on TV that make the already too gory Catholic iconography pale in comparison. I remember when Ben Hur was reviewed by the recalcitrant American critic Dwight MacDonald who found it bloody bloody and bloody boring and wonder now how he would have reacted to Mel Gibson’s opus where Jesus was literally and visibly flayed in more than double magnification and queasifying colour. Liked him better as a callow fellow from the outback in Galipoli. Splendid soundtract too btw.

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