Blind group to lead Pabasa in Bicol Braille

LEGAZPI CITY—A group of visually-impaired persons will conduct a public Pabasa in Bicol using Braille for 24 hours starting on Holy Thursday.

Several members of the group Visually Impaired Voices of AlbayPhoto via Viva
According to the group who calls themselves Viva or Visually Impaired Voices of Albay, the prayer session will start at 9:00 o’clock in the morning and will end at the exactly the same time the following day at Penaranda Park, this city.

The event’s coordinator, Jeff Cuela, himself a blind masseur, said that for the first time, the text of the Pabasa has been translated into Bicol Braille and will be recited by10 to 15 members of their group.

The translation of the centuries-old religious narrative was done by the National Library of the Philippines and was financed by the group.

Cuela added that they were able to raise funds to pay for the translation through donations by well-meaning sponsors.

The fund was able to produce ten copies of the Bicol Braille version and will just be shared by the members during the event.

They have already conducted this event last year in Pilipino-Braille, but this is the first time that the Pabasa will be done in Bicol.

Through this activity, Cuela says that they hope to inspire Catholic Bicolanos especially the younger generation of the importance of this socio-cultural practice.

The event this year was sponsored by the City Tourism Office.

The group Viva was originally organized as a band to showcase the talents of these marginalized group, although most of them earn their living as masseurs and masseuses.

With this, Cuela expressed his gratitude to those who helped their group realize the new project.

The Pabasa is a time-honored religious tradition in which the participants sing and chant the prayers or Biblical passages about the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

It is usually done before Good Friday for 24 hours straight with the partakers taking turns in the recital.

Several old-timers in the city have already expressed their worry that the tradition would soon fade away as the practice has been slowly dwindling for generations.

Cuela says that not only will they revive a longstanding custom but would surely prove the importance their group’s contribution to the Holy Week commemoration.—By Joey B. Garalde


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