Latest Stories

Artists perform rites of healing after tragedies


BADJAO women and girls displaced by the Zamboanga seige perform a traditional dance during an interfaith ritual at the Museo Pambata on Jan 11. ARNOLD ALMACEN

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines—Those in the performing arts are doing their part to help ease the burdens of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” victims.

Various artist groups in Leyte came up with an activity dubbed “Panhiuli ngan Pagbabago,” a water ritual for healing and recovery, staged last Friday at the University of the Philippines-Tacloban Botanical Garden by Cancabato Bay.

UP-Tacloban professor and National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Commissioner Joycie Dorado Alegre, one of the event’s initiators, said it was held to help not only the living but also those who perished in the Nov. 8 superstorm that claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people in Eastern Visayas, almost half of them from this city.

Participants chanted and sang as they placed boiled eggs, cigarettes, candies and tuba (coconut wine) on a balsa raft and pushed it off onto Cancabato Bay as an offering to the spirits.

As the raft floated away, the chanting and singing stopped to usher in a moment of silence.

“We (did) this ritual so we can be healed. We are reconnecting with the spirits as part of our healing process… of our people and the community,” explained Alegre in a phone interview on Saturday.

Alegre said the ritual, aimed at easing the emotional and spiritual burdens of both the living and the dead, relived an old tradition centered on appeasing or paying homage to the spirits of the water, considering that it was a very strong typhoon that killed the thousands of people.

Spiritual damage


She said the offering was taken from the “tamoy,” an age-old water ritual of Leyteños, particularly of fisherfolk from Carigara who offer food to the spirits for good weather, protection and a good catch.

Yolanda did not only “damage the physical but the spiritual world in addition to the spirits around us,” Alegre said.

The ritual, she added, will hopefully “heal all the elements of life and not just the people.”

She said the ritual was also meant to help the still “unsettled spirits,” especially the missing or the unburied, to finally find their “home,” just like the living who survived Yolanda’s onslaught.

The activity was initiated by the NCCA, Leyte-Samar Heritage Society, UP-Tacloban Campus, Museo Pambata and Citizen’s Network for Psycho-social Response.

In Manila, meanwhile, Badjao women who were displaced by the September siege of Zamboanga City performed traditional music using the agong and the kumintang as part of an interfaith ritual to signify closure to last year’s tragedies.

The “Araw ng Paghilom at Pagbangon: Isang Pahingalay,” day of healing and recovery, held on Saturday at the Museo Pambata in Rizal Park signaled the rehabilitation phase to the negative aspects brought by the four elements: Fire (Zamboanga siege), Earth (Bohol and Cebu earthquake), Wind and Water (Supertyphoon Yolanda in the Visayas).

Prayer for survivors, helpers

“This is a memorial of sorts for the people who passed away and a prayer for those who survived and those who helped,” Leo Emmanuel Castro of Sanghabi told the Inquirer.

Sanghabi (one weave) is a nonprofit organization that focuses on the appreciation of Philippine cultural diversity through the use of indigenous musical instruments.

The Citizens Network for Psychosocial Response spearheaded simultaneous rituals held in Tacloban, Cebu, Bohol, Davao and Zamboanga cities.

The ritual was based on the concept of pahingalay or to take a rest with God, Castro said.

Interfaith prayers were said by Christian, Catholic, Muslim, Badjao and Buddhist groups.

The Pause Muna Peace Muna of the Brahma Kumaris also gave presentations with a song from Timmy Cruz and poetry reading by Vim Nadera with dance accompaniment by students of the Philippine High School for the Arts.

One of the key elements of the pahingalay was the use of the tambara, a platform of the Bagobo on which to place offerings during the ritual, Castro explained.

“We use the tambara to focus the thoughts and intentions of the participants of the pahingalay,” he said.

The participants then proceeded to Manila Bay for the symbolic offering.—With a report from Erika Sauler

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Culture , healing , performing arts , rites , supertyphoon Yolands , water ritual

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  2. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  3. This is not just a farm
  4. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  5. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  6. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week?
  7. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  8. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  9. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  10. The truffled mac ‘n’ cheese, eggs benedict, chicken leg confit are excellent
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  4. France makes work beyond 6 p.m. illegal
  5. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  6. South Koreans crave Asia’s smelliest fish
  7. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  8. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  9. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Ex-Givenchy model fights for ‘Yolanda’ survivors


  • Nebraska toddler gets stuck inside claw machine
  • Philippine eagle rescued by Army turned over to DENR
  • Gunmen attack Iraq military base, kill 10 soldiers
  • South Korea president shouted down by distraught parents
  • Classmates celebrating 60th birthday among missing in ferry sinking
  • Sports

  • Power Pinays smash India in Asian Women’s Club volleyball opener
  • PH youth boxers off to stumbling start in AIBA World tilt
  • Durant has 42, Thunder beat Pistons 112-111
  • Walker leads Bobcats over Bulls in OT, 91-86
  • Man City slips further out of title contention
  • Lifestyle

  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • Entertainment

  • Jones, Godard, Cronenberg in competition at Cannes
  • Will Arnett files for divorce from Amy Poehler
  • American rapper cuts own penis, jumps off building
  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Why Lucky has not bought an engagement ring for Angel
  • Business

  • ‘Chinese Twitter’ firm Weibo to go public in US
  • World stocks subdued, Nikkei flat on profit taking
  • Asia stocks fail to match Wall Street gains
  • Fired Yahoo exec gets $58M for 15 months of work
  • PH presses bid to keep rice import controls
  • Technology

  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • DFA: 2 Filipinos survive Korean ferry disaster
  • PH asks airline passengers to check for MERS
  • Syria most dangerous country for journalists, PH 3rd—watchdog
  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  • First Fil-Am elected to Sierra Madre, Calif. city council