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The Pasyón (Template:Lang-es) is a Philippine epic narrative of the life of Jesus Christ, focused on his Passion, Death, and Resurrection. In stanzas of five lines of eight syllables each, the standard elements of epic poetry are interwoven with a colourful, dramatic theme.

The uninterrupted recitation or Pabasa of the whole epic is a popular Filipino Catholic devotion during the Lenten season, and particularly during Holy Week.

In 2011, the performing art was cited by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts as one of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Philippines under the performing arts category that the government may nominate in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.[1]


The text is an adaptation of the pre-Hispanic Filipino art of chanting epic poems as a part of oral tradition. After Christianity was introduced by the Spaniards, the Passion cycle was adapted into this native narrative form.

The indigenous form of the Pasyón was first written down by Gaspar Aquino de Belén in "Ang Mahal na Pasión ni Jesu Christong Panginoon Natin na Tola" ("The Sacred Passion of Jesus Christ Our Lord that is a Poem"), written in 1703 and approved in 1704.

An 1852 erudition by Aniceto de Merced, El libro de la vida ("The Book of the Life [of Jesus]") did not prove popular with the masses.

Pasyóng Genesís

The most popular Tagalog version of the Pasyón is the "Casaysayan nang Pasiong Mahal ni Hesucristong Panginoon Natin na Sucat Ipag-alab nang Puso nang Sinomang Babasa" ("The Story of the Passion of Jesus Christ, Our Lord, which Rightly Shall Ignite the Heart of Whosoever Readeth").

This version is also known as the Pasyóng Genesís as the Genesis creation narrative precedes the sections concerning the Virgin Mary and Christ. Another name for the text is Pasyóng Pilapil, after the foreword by a certain Dr Mariano Pilapil found in the 1814 printing. The book's title page describes it as being commissioned by former archbishop of Manila José Seguí, O.S.A., and former Augustinian provincial Manuel Grijalvo, O.S.A., with corrections to the Latin phrases done by a certain Fr Amador W. Cruz.

A widely-circulated version of the Pasyóng Genesís is the 1949 edition whose title begins with Awit at Salaysay... ("Song and Narrative") instead of Casaysayan, and was published by Ignacio Luna and Sons, Co.

Devotional use

Sample text from the 1949 Pasyóng Genesís, showing the opening prayers invoking God the Father and Saint Mary. These are followed by the Creation narrative, beginning with a catechesis on the nature of the Triune Godhead.

The Pasyón is normally heard during Holy Week in the Philippines, where its recitation is known as the Pabása ("Reading"). The rite can span several days, extending no later than Black Saturday, but it is often ended on Good Friday at noon or before 15:00 PHT (GMT+8) – the traditional hour of Jesus' death on the cross.

Readers chant the Pasyón from beginning to end without pause; this non-stop recitation is facilitated by devotees chanting in shifts. The chanters usually perform the rite as a panatà ("vow"), or votive offering in request or thanksgiving. Devotees are frequently older women and some men, but in recent years younger Filipinos have shown an increased interest in the custom.

The Pasyón is almost always chanted while facing an altar with religious icons, particularly those related to the suffering and death of Christ. Temporary altars are often erected within the home or inside an outdoor booth decorated with palm leaves. The Pabasa may also be performed at a local visita/kapilya (chapel of ease) or some other communal area.

As per Filipino etiquette, the host of the Pabasa (often the master or mistress of the house) is responsible for feeding the shifts of chanters as well as other guests.

Musical setting

There are various traditional settings or tono for the Pasyón that have been passed down through the centuries. Recent innovations include setting the epic to modern ballads, pop music, and contemporary hymns, in some places a rap or hip hop variant is used. Instrumental accompaniment to the Pabasa is not uniform in practise; the guitar and keyboard are commonly employed.