Monday, April 10, 2006

Olde Fashioned Story Telling (Pabasa) and Judas Blogging

This is the Christian Holy Week, the season of live crucifixion and self-flagellaton in the Archipelago, where recalling the Passion of Christ is taken to literal extremes. Less carnal, the Pabasa or the Reading and chanting of long biblical passages in the most exotic tones and dialects is a less famous but more widespread practice of devotion during Lent in the Philippines -- in the big cities, as well as provincial towns and village churches. Regular readers may note that MP3s are big on Philippine Commentary, as they are all over the Philippine blogosphere because of Garci and Song Hits. So I've wondered about the potential on the Web for olde-fashioned story-telling, for poetry reading and other bits of spoken language, literature, and tradition. Stuff that doesn't get out much on commercial television and radio broadcast media, or aren't seen as fit content for them. Here are some early experiments (right click to open in a new tab or window):
Rizalist reads the story of Nokomis, Wenonah, Iagoo and the childhood of Hiawatha (MP3)
and the first experiment at this:
Picture-writing (MP3).
In the About section is still
Rizalist and I
(an adaptation of something Jorge Luis Borges wrote.) Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, (the American author of the very long and world-renowned poem from which the first two above are recited) is, like José Rizál, a Nineteenth Century poet and writer. But it wasn't until I discovered WHO Hiawatha is supposed to be that this long, hypnotic song became one of my all-time favorites.

[Update: I don't mind sharing this answer to a recent email: my first real job in America was as a math and statistics tutor to six American Indians for the Equal Opportunity Program of the Univ. of California in Berkeley, California, 33 years ago. All passed with at least a D-minus instead of getting kicked out. (Party animals!) All became my "little red brothers" for life, and me their "lil brown brother"...]
Now speaking of José Rizál, coming soon is a Pabasa of a famous chapter of the El Filibusterismo: Sic Itur Ad Astra! (where we meet Simoun, whom the frailes on board the Tabo claim is an American mulatto or a British Indian. Others say he is Crisóstomo Ibárra returned from the Noli Me Tangere. I'm not so sure...)

But of course these are thoroughly modern stories, not very olde at all... Here is an interesting literary find from the 3rd or 4th century Anno Domini which everyone has heard of by now because of National Geographic...

GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JUDAS: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are not the only examples early Christian Gospel writing, many good Roman Catholic Filipinos discover with great surprise. Most are not aware of the so-called Apocryphal Gospels that did not make it to the official canon called the Holy Bible. But it is not surprising that there should be testimonies of Jesus' life and times from the other people in his life, such as the Gospel according to Mary, His Mother, and his other apostles, such as my favorite, the patron saint of scientists, St. Thomas the Skeptic (sometimes misnomered, Thomas the Doubter). But follow the link at the beginning of this paragraph to a restoration and translation of an ancient manuscript, 1700 years old, purported to be the Gospel According to Judas. The surprising payload is a claim that Judas was only acting on orders from his Jesus who may actually have regarded Judas, as His truest and most faithful disciple! WARNING: These claims have been considered heretical by the Church since around the time of St. Ireneus in the 2nd century AD. You can pick up on the "Orthodox Christian" attack on Gnosticism here at my favorite legal website: the Volokh Conspiracy ("...It is as if in 3800AD they announced that Benedict Arnold was actually George Washington's most loyal general.") and the Gnostic retort is here at Fantastic Planet.

Also available online direct from National Geographic are the Coptic and English language texts of the Gospel of Judas, here and here. (PDF) -- so you don't have to buy the upcoming book.

Did Jesus walk on frozen water? Well since the topic is heresy... the Discovery Channel has this brief on research published by the Journal of Paleolimnology (the study of ancient lakes) --
Jesus may not have actually walked on water: he may have skated on an isolated, hard to see piece of ice, according to a study on the weather and water conditions in northern Israel in Jesus' time. Doron Nof, professor of Oceanography at Florida State University, and colleagues report in the April issue of the Journal of Paleolimnology (the study of prehistoric lakes), that a rare combination of water and atmospheric conditions in northern Israel could have led to the formation of "springs ice" on the surface of the Sea of Galilee, now known as Lake Kinneret.
Two thousand years not olde enough or far enough in the past for ye? Take a look at what they found in Utah...

Boing Boing: Giant turkey-like dinosaur discovered -- This item takes us back to Jurassic Times (65 to 70 million years ago). If I didn't become a physicist early in life, I would surely have become a paleontologist. There is neat artist's rendition of the newly discovered seven foot tall velociraptor is from the University of Utah. (The gorilla shown is from contemporary times. Ouch.)

400 MILLION YEARS AGO...THE MISSING LINK Now for something really old. Scientists think they have found the fossils of an animal that comes from the time of the first migration -- from the primordial seas of life to dry land!

In addition to confirming elements of a major transition in evolution, the fossils are widely seen by scientists as a powerful rebuttal to religious creationists, who hold a literal biblical view on the origins and development of life.

Several well-preserved skeletons of the fossil fish were uncovered in sediments of former stream beds in the Canadian Arctic, 600 miles from the North Pole, it is being reported on Thursday in the journal Nature. The skeletons have the fins and scales and other attributes of a giant fish, four to nine feet long. But on closer examination, scientists found telling anatomical traits of a transitional creature, a fish that is still a fish but exhibiting changes that anticipate the emergence of land animals — a predecessor thus of amphibians, reptiles and dinosaurs, mammals and eventually humans.

Beware though. This is not the 'Missing Link' of popular 20th century lore, which usually referred to a supposed ancestor of Man that evolved from the apes. Of course no such link exists since men and apes are descended from a common ancestor, and NOT, as an old misconception goes, that men are descended from the apes. Of course data such as these, has also found an important political and intellectual purpose, in the ongoing debate over Intelligent Design, a topic for a future post. There seems to be a lot of interesting current topics in religion: the Da Vinci Code (probably in the realm of apostasy!) and in the Philippines itself: idolatry in public life, and that secret mission received bv Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales from Pope Benedict XVI.

Perhaps Rizalist will blog San Pedro de Cutud barangay in Pampanga this week, with fifteen live crucifixions scheduled on Good Friday...

UPDATE: Check out Ed Lacierda at San Juan Gossip Mills: Jesus in the Time of GMA



Gosh! I'd forgotten about Pabasa. Mind you i've only witnessed one when I was 6 or 7 so hardly remember.

However, I've never seen a live crucifixion during the celebration of the holy week in Pinas - completely stupid, if you ask me. Those guys are barking mad!

Rizalist said...

wait till you see my collection of pictures. I think I will visit Barangay Cutud again on Good Friday. They serve great calderetang "tarkey" at the lil Kalbaryo Hill they have. All the European, Australian and American media usually show up. heard there will be 15 this year. Last time I was there, 10 were cruxed. Including the first woman, a Belgian nun!


Hahahahah! A Belgian nun? Gosh, I thought Beligans weren't that bright but that thick, whew!

Have fun! I love caldereta - yummmmm....

Rizalist said...

Well, this is the year I expose some the CHICANERY that goes on at these crucifixions...they are not all that real! I have video and digital photos. Bgy Cutud residents make a lot of money during the Lenten Good Friday affair. It'S usually a madhouse over there, with every residence a pay parking lot, and many foreigners. Pinoys have improved on the Spanish Taliban's SIMONY with the original REALITY SHOW.



You serious? Those crucifixions ain't real?


Btw, where's Bgy Cutud?

Rizalist said...

Cutud is a depressed suburb of San Fernando Pampanga. I always get lost getting there after leaving the North Luzon. But yeah, later this week you'll see some of the tricks. Now the flagellants...that can't be faked. I'll tell their story too...


Hey Dean, you still up at this time? Are you having a Pabasa?

I'm hitting the sack now coz got a golf competition (with the kids) tomorrow morning - 2nd round and 18 holes in the cold! Ugh!

Nite nite!

Without Borders said...

i'm fond of reading about the "debate" on intelligent design vs evolultion. looking forward to it.

bernardo F. Ronquillo said...

DJB, when you come back, I refer to you a good read, The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved. John, immediately comes to your mind? Right? But do you know that there is no verse in the Bible that says that Jesus loved John? Did John really write the gospel attributed to him? Please go to

Happy reading.

bernardo F. Ronquillo said...

DJB, when you come back, I refer to you a good read, The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved. John, immediately comes to your mind? Right? But do you know that there is no verse in the Bible that says that Jesus loved John? Did John really write the gospel attributed to him? Please go to

Happy reading.

Rizalist said...

THANKS bfr. btw, one of my all time favorite books is the King James Bible, as we've discussed before. In fact, my company, TVßooks™Publishing Corp. sells it on DVD for P150. Entire text no computer needed to read it. I think it's world's most beautiful Bible! inexpensive too! Want one? send me your delivery address by email!

Rizalist said...

BFR, that's a complementary KJV TVßook™ DVD. Made in the Philippines. New Product. New technology. Free to any regular Philippine Commentary reader just for the asking. send me email at


Are there different versions of the King James bible?

I've got a 1986 edition of the international edition of the Holy Bible printed by Hodder and Stoughton (BS195.157)

I also have a King James Bible printed by Oxford Press revised by His Majesty's special command 1930

Rizalist said...

Since 1611 when it was first published, the King James is the basis for most English bibles since. It was created from the original Hebrew and Greek sources, unlike the old Latin Vulgate of the Catholic Church. But it is the only public domain bible of global distribution. We've published it now on DVD to prove out our new technology. 66 books on one DVD. No computers! No internet! Rizal is next!

Amadeo said...

But, Dean:

The DaVinci Code, the book, has from the getgo always been declared as a work of fiction by the author himself. Thus, undeserving of serious scholarly attention?

Personally, the frozen lake theory should have validity only if we also take as in question the accounts of the evangelists, or even Christ's motives. If indeed, the lake was frozen, was Christ then pulling the legs of Peter and his friends? But Peter and his friends were the experts (they were the fishermen!) and thus thoroughly familiar with the lake, I would assume.

And this dovetails with the related account where after fishing all night and not catching much, Christ tells Peter and his band to drop the net one more time. Peter complains but does Christ's wish. And the account ended with a dramatic flourish - a net bursting at the seams with catch.

But I find interesting the newly discovered manuscripts concerning Judas. It is certainly well within the realm of probability that Judas was conscripted by Christ so the latter could fulfill the will of His Father. The ultimate sacrifice - for Judas. Being portrayed as the evil one before the eyes of his family, friends, and now by Christians many centuries removed.

bernardo F. Ronquillo said...

DJB, I would very much like to have a copy. I will email you my delivery address pronto.

The King James Version is also my favorite Bible. When he became King, James commissioned 50 scholars who made the translation into every day English from the original Greek (New Testament) and Hebrew (Old Testament) that originated from Antioch. It is the book from which all the other translations were made.

Hillblogger, there are more than 20 Versions but the original King James is the best. I have 8 versions in my computer, namely, New International Version (NIV), King Jame Version (KJV), New American Standard Bible (NASV, American Standard Version (ASV), New King James Version (NKJV), New American Standard (NSA), Hebrew Old Testament (transliterated) and Greek New Testament (transliterated).

To Amadeo, the Da Vinci Code is a work of fiction and should be read as such.

DJB, talking about codes are you aware of the Bible Code? Please refer to These here are not fiction but scientific and mathematical discussions. Again, happy reading this Holy Week.

bernardo F. Ronquillo said...

Amadeo, I also find interesting the new manuscripts about the role of Judas Iscariot. I particularly waited for National Geographics' account of it last Tuesday night.

It settles one nagging question for me which I had since I was a young Christian: How could Jesus have made a mistake in choosing the wrong disciple? This manuscript gives me an answer: the choice of Judas was not a mistake, it was deliberate on Jesus' part.

However, I have to hold on what the Bible says; and judging Judas does not belong to me but to God.

Regarding that frozen lake theory, remember that Peter also went out of the boat and walked a little towards Jesus but saw the raging waves and sunk. Mathew 14:25-33. Therefore the sea could not have been frozen.

paolomanalo said...

You da man!

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