A key Lenten program on Philippine TV, “Siete Palabras”—the communal recitation of the Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ, which are accompanied by reflections from priests and testimonies from lay people—is an experience Filipinos overseas surely miss during the Holy Week, said a Dominican priest who had directed the program for half a decade now.
“In the past years, we have received requests from Filipinos abroad to make the program available to them because, even if they are no longer in the Philippines, they still desire to be one with us in celebrating the Holy Week,” said Christopher Jeffrey Aytona, OP, assistant director of the Social Communications Division of the Institute of Preaching.
To address this concern, the “Siete Palabras” this year can now be accessed through live online streaming, via the official websites of the Dominican Province of the Philippines (www.opphil.org) and Radio Veritas (www.veritas846.ph).
The program will be on Good Friday, March 29, 12nn-3pm, at the Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City. GMA-7 and Radio Veritas 846 (AM band) will provide for its telecast and radio broadcast, respectively.
Regional and provincial members of the Catholic Media Network will also carry “Siete Palabras” as part of their Lenten programming.
This year, the Year of Faith, the Church has sounded the call “to consider anew the new methods and means for transmitting the Good News more effectively to our people,” said Aytona.
For the Dominicans, aside from working on more ways to reach Filipinos abroad, an effective means to relate the Lenten message is by showing how the faith is entrenched in Filipino culture.
“Last year, when we featured the Pasyon, there were mixed reactions. But it is noteworthy that many have expressed their appreciation toward the incorporation of the tradition, which the present generation seems to have missed or forgotten,” said Aytona.
The Dominicans, who have been significantly involved in the production of “Siete Palabras” since its first broadcast in 1984, have invited the traditional Pasyon singers from Baras, Rizal, to partake in the ceremonies this year.
To give their reflections on the Seven Last Words are veteran “Siete Palabras” preachers Fr. Enrico Gonzales, OP, and Fr. Filemon de la Cruz, OP; Institute of Preaching director Fr. Clarence Marquez, OP; school rectors Fr. Tamerlane Lana, OP, and Fr. Ernesto Arceo, OP; and newcomers Fr. Paul Talavera, OP, and Fr. Rudolf Seño, OP.
The Seven Last Words are: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34); “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43); “Woman, behold your son” (John 19:26-27); “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34); “I thirst” (John 19:28); “It is finished” (John 19:30); and “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).
Other highlights of “Siete Palabras” will be the music by professor Antonio Africa, assistant dean of the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music; dance numbers by the UST Salinggawi and Letran Filipiniana Dance Troupe; and the Filipino culture-inspired production design by professor Rey Mañago and Bella Saman of the UST College of Fine Arts and Design.
Mitch Valdez, the first Filipino artist to have performed in Bethlehem during a 12-day pilgrimage tour, and cellist Arnold Josue, will render musical presentations.
A filmed interview with renowned stage actors and real-life couple Nonie and Shamaine Buencamino regarding their journey back to the Church will be shown as part of the program.
A testimony of faith will be given by Loudette Zaragoza-Banson, daughter of the well-known architect of many church structures and buildings, which include the Sto. Domingo Church, a declared National Cultural Treasure. She was a co-host of “Family Rosary Crusade.”