Pabasa (ritual)

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This is about the Philippine ritual. For the Ancient Egyptian noble, see Pabasa.
Filipino devotees in Laguna, Philippines, enagaged in the pabása in 2011
Sample text of the 1949 Kasaysayan ng Pasyong Mahal ni Hesukristong Panginoon Natin ("History of the Sacred Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ")

Pabása ng Pasyón ("Reading of the Passion"), known simply as Pabása (literally "reading", but is specifically a "sponsored reading-and-chanting") is a Holy Week practise in the Philippines that involves chanting of the narrative of the life, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.[1]


Readers are usually groups of individuals taking turns in chanting verses from the book known as the Pasyon (lit., "Passion").[1] The modern-day Pabasa may be chanted a capella or with the accompaniment of musical instruments such as the guitar or accordion, or by a rondalla ensemble.

There are two common styles of chanting, one of which is the alternate singing of two persons or two groups of people. The second method has each chanter or group of chanters taking turns in singing the stanzas.

The Pabasa is normally performed in front of either a makeshift altar or a permanent one located at the neighbourhood chapel (visita), town plazas, churchyards, or at the home of the ritual's sponsor.[2]


The practitioners of the verse chanting participate in the ritual to show their devotion to the Catholic faith during the Holy Week season. According to Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, the media director of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the pabasa is a form of religious meditation, expression and profession of faith, and communal activity.[1]


A common practice in the provincial regions of the Philippines, the reading and chanting ritual may be sponsored by local religious organizations. The readings may begin on Holy Monday, the second day of the Holy Week;[3] or it may also start in the afternoon of Holy Thursday.[1] The readings are done continuously day and night and usually last for three consecutive days.[3] If started on Holy Thursday, the pabasa usually ends on the morning of Good Friday.[1]


Before evolving into the contemporary version of the reading and chanting ritual in the Philippines during the Lenten season, the early form of the pabasa was introduced to the various indigenous people of the Philippine islands by Spanish friars.[4] The Spaniards brought Catholicism to the Philippines. Gradually, over the period of Spanish colonialism in the Philippines (1521–1898), the ancient Filipinos adapted the religious chanting introduced by the Spanish priests and incorporated it to their own custom of singing epics during native celebrations. The vocal singing style has in many ways, preserved the pre-Hispanic singing techniques of the main groups of the country, like the Tagalog, Ilocano and Visayan groups.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Pazzibugan, Dona. "‘Pabasa’ is for meditating, not loud wailing". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Pabasa, Golgotha Part of Bangus Festival 2011". Dagupan City Bangus Festival 2011. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Hermoso, Christina. "'Pabasa' begins this Monday". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  4. ^ "Pabasa in New Jersey". Philippine News. Retrieved 30 June 2011.