Before leaving for Paete, Fr. Rey gave us a briefing as to what we are to expect there. I had been to Paete before. More or less, I was aware of the landscape, and also of the other stuff which may satisfy our logistical requirement.
For one, we needed to know where the salubongs would be held (there are three moments!) and also the division of task of each one. I would be asked to take care of the MP3 for the audio, snatch some video footage, but most of the time, I was tasked take still shots.
It was a long trip. We passed through several towns before finally reaching our destination.
Upon arriving, some of the statues are already in place--with frills and all! And some barrage of paparazzi are also there with their cell phones, instant cameras and some DSLRs to boot!
I was surprised to know that the people consider the script precious. He got hold of the script the people are using, but he is not to publish it for public consumption. When we interview Mark, he's a cantor for Christ, he told us that he only got hold of the script on Palm Sunday, three days before the celebration. And once he's done with his part, somebody immediately gets hold of the script.
We did not expect to be offered free meals, after all, we’re there to gather data. But Filipinos everywhere are hospitable. And following the words of St. Francis of Sales, "we ask for nothing... we refuse nothing."
We've made a smooth interpersonal relationship with some of the people there. The 'rector' (narrator) took it upon himself to accompany us to each house as we conducted interviews. He also held our MP3 recorder since he was posted near the sound system. Some of the sacristans who served as human cordon to control the crowd happily allowed us to get inside the scene for a better view.
The procession began with a rundown of the important personalities involved in the unfolding of the salvation history. It was a long one! But I was enriched to hear some new names such as Maria Jacobe and even match faces with some names of the saints not really familiar to me.
It was a tiring event. We reached home past midnight after a four-hour procession and at least an hour of road trip from Paete to Canlubang. But I couldn't complain. I immensely enjoyed the experience and given the chance to have it again next year, I will surely offer my sweet 'yes' to Fr. Rey.