Death statues come to life in Camarines

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RARELY ON THIS DAY A death statue is not out on All Souls’ Day but regularly seen leading the Good Friday procession. PHOTO BY FRANK PENONES JR.

RARELY ON THIS DAY A death statue is not out on All Souls’ Day but regularly seen leading the Good Friday procession. PHOTO BY FRANK PENONES JR.

Folk statues on death reminiscent of the Dia de los Muertos in Mexico, are common in Camarines Norte but hardly out on Halloween.

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“They are not displayed during All Souls’ Day, however, but on Good Friday,” said Rene Palmero, the caretaker of the La Muerte, a four-feet high statue now kept in an abandoned house beside the Our Lady of Penafrancia chapel in Barangay VIII of Daet town.

The white statue wears a white crown with a cross and wrapped in a black cape and apron, while its left hand holds a bloodied scythe, and an hourglass in its right.

Palermo does not know the owner or the provenance of the statue but said she had seen it leading the Good Friday procession since she was a child in the 70’s.

This Lenten procession of the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ through the various Biblical characters loaded on brightly-lighted floats or carozas, are also observed in other towns of the province, like Labo and Santa Elena.

It is reflective less, however, of a Mexican influence but more of a medieval manifestation of rural social class and organization, according to Victor Venida in his paper, The Santos and Rural Aristocracy.

“The Holy Week cults of the Philippines represent a medieval legacy of Western Europe,” he argued.

“From the perspective of a medieval and feudal economic structure, the cult may not be folk Catholicism after all, but Philippine medievalism at its most definitive stage,” he concluded.

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