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Salubong welcomes Risen Christ Easter morning in the Philippines

  • At dawn on Easter, an angel girl hidden in a banana flower removes Mary's mourning cloak, and everyone celebrates Jesus' resurrection. Photo by Esmeralda Fortunado-Sanchez.
  • In the pre-dawn hours of Easter, a statue of the risen Christ is brought forth from the church of St. Clement in Angono, Rizal, Philippines. Photo by Esmeralda Fortunado-Sanchez.
  • Mary Salome, one of the women at the foot of the Cross and the burial of Jesus, is carried out in Angono, Rizal's Salubong procession, Easter morning, 2017. Photo by Esmeralda Fortunado-Sanchez.
  • An image of St. John sits among many in the courtyard awaiting the pre-dawn Easter procession known as Salubong. Angono Rizal, Philippines. Photo by Esmeralda Fortunado-Sanchez.
  • The image of the risen Christ is processed through the streets int he pre-dawn hours of Easter morning. Angono, Rizal, 2017. Photo by Esmeralda Fortunado-Sanchez.
  • A young woman chosen as a "tenyenta," carrying the Alleluia flag that she will use in her dance to celebrate the meeting of Jesus and Mary. Photo by Esmeralda Fortunado-Sanchez.
  • The image of St. Peter is among those carried in Angono Rizal's Salubong procession. Photo by Esmeralda Fortunado-Sanchez.
  • Salubong image of St. Mary Jacobe, one of the women at the feet of the Cross. Angono Rizal, Philippines, 2016. Photo by Esmeralda Fortunado-Sanchez.
  • When the images of Mary and the risen Christ meet at the stage, it is still before dawn and she is still covered in black lace, in mourning. Angono Rizal, Philippines. Photo by Esmeralda Fortunado-Sanchez.
  • As dawn rises, a young woman in a role known as kapitana sings a song that recounts Mary's role in Jesus' life. To the right, another woman in the role of tenyenta, a dancer, is seated. Photo by Esmeralda Fortunado-Sanchez.
  • A banana flower opens at dawn to reveal a girl dressed as an angel. Photo by Esmeralda Fortunado-Sanchez.
  • The angel girl is lowered to remove the black mourning lace from Mary. Photo by Esmeralda Fortunado-Sanchez.

As is the case for many important feasts, the Filipino celebration of Easter begins before dawn. Many Filipinos rise by 3 or 4 a.m. for a ritual procession called Salubong, or welcome. St. Clement's parish, Angono, Rizal, known for its elaborate celebration of Salubong, is featured here. 

Salubong is a pre-dawn meeting of two processed images, one of the Risen Christ, and the other of a still-mourning Mary. The statue of Mary, covered in a black mourning dress, is carried by the women of the town along one route, along with statues of the saints who had been with Jesus in the days before and after his death. (As is the case on most other processions in the Philippines, the saints' statues belong to pious families in town who care for them and showcase them in their homes year round). The statue of the Risen Christ is carried by men along a different route. 

Crowds of people join both processions. Their destination is an outdoor stage, decorated for the occasion, where the images of Jesus and Mary meet.

On the stage, a ritual of singing and dancing marks the meeting of the images. Young women, specially chosen each year for this honor, have the leading roles in those ceremonies. They wear elaborate, ruffled dresses, and have a band to accompany them. One woman, filling a role called tenyenta, dances a bati, a dance of thanksgiving and welcome, waving a white satin flag that proclaims "Alleluia." The other, known as a kapitana, sings a song that recounts Mary's role in Jesus' life. A colorful, giant paper banana blossom hangs above the stage just above where Mary's statue is placed. Eventually a mechanism opens the banana blossom to reveal a young girl dressed as an angel in white. She sings Regina Coeli as she is lowered to Mary's statue. As confetti drops around her, she removes Mary's black veil of sorrow. Participants join in the celebration of the Resurrection and the end of Mary's sorrow.

Following the meeting, the procession proceeds to the church for the many masses that follow during the day. 

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Footnotes