Senakulo and Penitensya: Pride of Cainta Rizal

Hello! How are you all doing? Since the start of the Lenten Season this week, I have been offline  and would only sneak on my social media accounts and check on my emails through my phone. Lenten Season in our town is a busy holy week for all.
People from other towns and even provinces would normally visit our place just to watch Senakulo and Penitensya.

The Senakulo (from the Spanish cenaculo) is a Lenten play that depicts events from the Old and New Testaments related to the life, sufferings, and death of Christ. The senakulo is traditionally performed on a proscenium-type stage with painted cloth or paper backdrops that are called telon. It takes at least eight nights – from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday – to present the play. Christ is presented traditionally as meek and masochistic, submitting lamblike to his fate in obedience to authority.


Crucifixion of Christ is usually held at the Liwasang Bayan of Cainta and luckily, we can watch the same scene outside of our apartment compound. My brothers and the rest of the youth in our street performs their own “Senakulo” and “Penitensya” every year and it started I think 4 or 5 years ago. They called their group Samahang Junior Nazareth Inc., (SJNI) and they have been doing great every year. They looked up to Samahang Nazareno, which is I think the first group who performed in the Senakulo here in Cainta Rizal.
During Holy Week, we would normally rushed out from our house when we hear drums beating, signifying that there is a group of people doing a “penitensya”. Just like what we just saw today. Sharing you some of the pictures I took a while ago when they passed by our house.
Roman Guards, Pilato and Claudia, Mga Hudyo and of course the captured Jesus Christ are
the main characters you would normally see during their parade 
As a child, I remembered that one of the most scary character during Holy Week was Barabas. Adults usually used his character as “panakot” to small children. With hands tied, he would usually scare small children and pretend to run after them. Naturally, small children will run back to their houses or will hide at the back of their parents while crying. Now that I am already a parent, I would ask beforehand not to scare the little ones when they pass in front of us and thankfully they abide. They scared the next group of kids after us! lol!

Barabas is a fictional character who appears at the centre of Christopher Marlowe’s play The Jew of Malta. He is named after Barabbas, the Jewish revolutionary who was released from prison and pardoned from crucifixion in place of Jesus in the Bible (Matthew 27 v. 16-21, 26, Mark 16 v. 7-15). Described in the play’s prologue as “a sound Machiavil” (meaning he is extremely Machiavellian), Barabas is interesting as a character in that he is possibly the first ever stage-portrayed psychopath (at least within English literature), taking people into confidence by playing on their desires and then killing them. Like Shakespeare’s Shylock—the idea of whom may have been inspired by Barabas—he is open to interpretation as a symbol of anti-Semitism. However, also like Shylock, he occasionally shows evidence of humanity (albeit very rarely)


Jesus Christ who died on the cross
There will be more to watch for tomorrow, Good Friday, and hopefully I could have pictures with my brothers while wearing their costumes. Oh and I forgot, my husband is also included in their group and he will be playing as a Roman Guard again just like last year.
Hope you are all spending a blessed Holy Week!

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