Sunday, April 26, 2015

Junífera Clarita's Traditional Catholic Baptism

© Teresa Perey.

The airconditioned van that we rented which took us to Roxas District in Cubáo last Saturday noon (April 18th) was not able to deliver the cold air that I was expecting. Not that the van's old or shabby but because of the intense April heat. And then there's Metro Manila's legendary traffic to contend with. But Junífera Clarita, clad in her new, white lace gown, was soundly asleep through it all (it was a good thing because it was going to be a busy afternoon for her). She didn't know how anxious I was to escape the horrendous traffic jam in Calle Arsenio Lacson which was aggravated by the constant beeping and ringing of my cellphone...

The guests were already at the church but we're still on the road!

On our way to Holy Family Church in Roxas District taken somewhere along Calle España in Sampáloc, Manila.
© Teresa Perey

How could I know that it would take that long to cook menudo and calderetang baboy for Junífera Clarita's baptismal reception? My father-in-lawho did all the cooking in our apartment all morning miscalculated the time. That iwhy when we got inside the van, it was almost eleven in the morning — and to think that I informed everyone that Junífera Clarita's rare Filipiniana baptism will start at eleven thirty! Actually, showtime waset at twelve noon; I only said eleven thirty in order for our guests to avoid "Filipino time". The irony of it all.

By the time our van got to Calle España in Sampáloc, my baby daughter was already awake (it was there where her mom had her dressed up in her baptismal attire). Thankfully, the traffic flow became smoother in that area. Shortly thereafter, we arrived at the Holy Family Church thirty minutes late (yikes). But all the godparents and guests welcomed uwith heartwarming smiles, enough to make us forget our guilt of coming in late, not to mention the excruciating summer heat.

Iglesia de la Sagrada Familia.
© María Anna Berroya de Baky

If this handsome main altar and framed altarpiece (retablo) looks familiar, then you're not mistaken. Recently, this church has become a favorite location set for various ABS-CBN teleseries.
© José Perdigón

With camera in hand, Krystal was as relieved as I was upon arrival. I designated her to be the photographer for our Facebook page's photo album of the event.
© Teresa Perey

We were welcomed by one of Junífera Clarita's madrinas, María Christina Capacete, while other godparents look on. Ate Chris is a cousin of  San Pedro Tunasán Mayor Lourdes Catáquiz who served as godmother to my Filipiniana wedding last 2013.
© Teresa Perey

Our tardiness, however, seemed to have been a blessing in disguise because it gave Fr. Jojo Zerrudo more time to practice the rubrics of the baptism. This is because Junífera Clarita's baptism was no ordinary oneWhat was about to take place that hot early afternoon is somewhat historic in contemporary Filipino Catholicism: a traditional Catholic baptism, something that has not been practiced in our country since the late 1960s or after the installation of Vatican II rituals.

Much like my wedding with Yeyette two years ago (also officiated by Fr. Jojo), our daughter's baptism was done according to the use of our country (Mozarabic Rite). We have invited many of our friends to be Junífera Clarita's godparents, but we were informed that only the principal godparents can take part in the ancient ritual. Her madrina principal (principal godmother) is none other than Southeast Asia's first international beauty titlist and a descendant of Dr. José Rizal's sister María, 1964 Miss International Gemma Teresa Cruz de Araneta. Her padrino principal (principal godfather) is José Ramón Perdigón, a Spaniard who has been living in the country for years and is also a citizen historian, having written various scholarly articles online about our country's history, culture, and national identity.

Junífera Clarita is welcomed for the first time by her principal godparents: beauty titlist and scholar Gemma Cruz de Araneta (Miss International 1964) and Filipinologist/historian José Ramón Perdigón (administrator of the Círculo Hispano-Filipino).
© Cheryl Anne Villapando

Miguel Madarang (master of liturgical ceremonies of the Ecclesia Dei Society of St. Joseph - Una Voce Philippines) bid everyone to come by the door as Jefe and his friends Katelyn and Kenneth look on.

The principal godparents and Junífera Clarita all geared up for the main event.
© Teresa Perey

Rounding up Junífera Clarita's godfathers were Aris Catáquiz (son of former San Pedro Tunasán Mayor Calixto Catáquiz and current Mayor Lourdes Catáquiz) and his cousin Noel Buenavista while her godmothers were María Christina Capacete, María Anna Berroya de Báky, my cousin Josephine "Jam" Alas (Magic 89.9 disc jockey), my sister Jessica Alas, and Michelle Dimaculañgan. Other godparentwho did not make it to the event were historian José Mª Bonifacio Escoda, Anna's husband Errol ky, my wife's long-time OB/GYN Dr. Catherine Pujol de Azores, and businesswoman Divina Olivárez (proxied by Noel's mom, Tita Carmina Capacete de Buenavista).

After some pleasantries (and excuses for arriving late), the ancient rite began at the church's left entrance. Fr. Jojo, clad in a violet stole, began the ceremony using both the Latin and Spanish languages. And everything else fell in place beautifully (each part of Junífera Clarita's one-of-a-kind baptism is completely described here).

© Teresa Perey

As per the rubrics of this ancient rite, only the baby, the officiating priest, and the principal godparents are included in the ceremony; the additional godparentwill serve awitnesses. Not even us parents have any role in it. It was actually a welcome addition for me because I was able to observe the whole ceremony without having to do anything. I just stood there behind all the godparents. So during the  whole proceedings, I wasurprised to find out that the ritual, which took more or less an hour, had four exorcisms (remember that there's this dirt which we call "original sin")! Quite apt for a priest like Fr. Jojo since it's familiar territory for him. In relation to this, Señor Guillermo Gómezattentive as he has always been, noticed something else during the part where Junífera Clarita was about to receive the exsufflation...

Fr. Jojo breathes three times on Junífera Clarita in the form of a Cross. This is called exsufflation.
© Juhnar Esmeralda

For a brief moment, I noticed that Junífera Clarita became restless and started kicking hard. She even accidentally kicked Señor Perdigón's copy of the baptismal proceedings. I got alarmed because she might throw a tantrum anytime soon. But her restlessness lasted for just a few seconds. After she received the exsufflation from Fr. Jojo, she returned to her normal, calm comportment. I just shooed it all away as an infant's momentary boredom, or maybe because of the heat. But Señor Gómez, who was just a few feet away, went to me and whispered that the beautiful ceremony was the most complete and powerful kind of baptism as it really drove the bad spirits crazy. I gave him a puzzled look, then he explained to me the baptismal rite's emphasis on exorcism and Junífera Clarita's momentary restlessness. And then it hit me — maybe it wasn't my daughter who became restless. Besides, as I've mentioned, my daughter's baptism had four exorcisms. It was that many that it prompted the ever witty Señor Gómez to blurt out later: "Father, I saw the devil run away!"

(My mother-in-law recorded much of the ceremony, including the part where Junífera Clarita became restless. Later on, while me and my family were reviewing that video which she uploaded on her Facebook account, we noticed that —unbeknownst to her she was able to record strange, creepy sounds: whispers and garbles, particularly on the exorcism parts of the baptism. There was even a silent scream on the part where Fr. Jojo, our daughter, and the principal godparents were already in front of the altar! Well, these strange occurrences could be anything else. Furthermore, although I do believe in such things, I'm not the type who immediately believes in such stories, nor do I pay them due attention. So it's better if you be the judge: click here to watch. Make sure to turn your speakers on high volume I also plan to write more about this one day in my other blog.)

There was one cute moment, though:

"While Fr. Jojo Zerrudo was praying over Clarita with outstreched arms —in accordance with the rubrics— the baby gave him a 'high-five'. Made my day!" exclaimed Miguel Madarang, one of the sacristans assisting the rite and is also the master of liturgical ceremonies of the Ecclesia Dei Society of St. Joseph - Una Voce Philippines.

It's so fun to become a Christian!
© Juhnar Esmeralda

After the imposition of hands came the part when the candidate, i.e., my baby daughter, was finally admitted into the church building. With the end of his stole on Junífera Clarita, Fr. Jojo then led all of us towards the main altar. During that brief procession, both principal godparents were reciting the Apostle's Creed in Spanish.

© José Perdigón

© Carmina Capacete de Buenavista

Baptismal rites bore kids nowadays. But the language, elegance, pomp, and solemnity of Junífera Clarita's baptism had her Cuya Mómay glued from start to finish!

While many infants cry whenever water is poured over their foreheads during baptism (Novus Ordo)Junífera Clarita did not. In fact, it was not just her forehead that got wet but her entire head. This is because in a traditional Catholic baptism, instead of carrying the baby lying on her back, the baby had to be carried lying on her stomach by the godmother. The priest then pours water three times over the head of the baby, once after each mention of the Divine Persons. I guess that is also why the use of a baptismal font is crucial in such a baptism.

"Not a whimper from baby Junífera. She enjoyed having water poured on her head, I had to restrain her from diving into the baptismal font," observed Gemma.

© Cheryl Anne Villapando

The water used on Junífera Clarita was consecrated during the past Easter Vigil 

With all the godparents and other guests.
© Carmina Capacete de Buenavista

Fr. Jojo Zerrudo and Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera: a rare meeting of intellectual giants! Only La Familia Viajera can bring  such people together. :D #goosebumps
© Teresa Perey

Cousins Jessica and Jam posing with their ahijada (goddaughter) right after the baptismal rites.

After the ceremonies was the obligatory photo ops. Then we invited everyone to a simple lunch at the school right beside the church (we're in horrible financial straits for almost a year, that's why we couldn't afford even a small eatery). We were to dine at the multi-purpose hall at the school's second floor, but we weren't able to prepare the place because we arrived late and got overwhelmed by the guests and the ensuing baptismal ceremony. That's why me, my sons, our good neighbor Flor Junio and her kids were cramming like mad in setting up the place right after the baptism as fast as we could. I got alarmed all the more when the guests started coming in because most of the Monobloc chairs were still stacked upon one another, the rectangular wooden tables were still on a corner, the windowwere still closed, and the wall fans turned off. But much to our delight (and embarrassment), everybody did their part to help us in preparing the chairs and tables, the food, and pretty much everything else. Even Gemma herself helped out in setting up the chairs! My mom-in-law also heard one guest commented that we were just like having a picnic in there! Wwere really moved by everyone'sense of camaraderie and bayanihan! ¡Muchas gracias a todos!

Special thanks to the Holy Family Parochial School for allowing us to use their multi-purpose hall for the reception.
© Teresa Perey

With her madrina Michelle.

With her padrino Aris.

With her padrino Oyie.
© Carmina Capacete de Buenavista

With her madrina Chris.

With her madrina Anne.

Con su madrina Mimi.

Con su padrino José.

Junífera Clarita's madrina Anne joined us on our way home. Everyone was in high spirits! Even Juanito took my knitted cap and wore it!
© Teresa Perey

Back home. Thank you so much for the gifts!

After some reflection, I'm mesmerized at the holy cycle that we've been through since Yeyette and I were married in traditional Catholic ritesshe became heavy with our fifth child, then went through churching rites. After that, she miraculously survived a fatal childbirth. Finally, Junífera Clarita's traditional Catholic baptism just eight days ago. It seems to me that even in spiritual matters, my family is still traveling!

Thank you Lord God for the guidance!

¡Bienvenida al mundo cristiano, nuestra preciosa Junífera Clarita!
© María Christina Capacete


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