‘Buhing Kalbaryo’ expected to draw thousands of devotees, spectators this year
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Cebu City government invites the Catholic faithful to join in the 26th year since inception of the annual ‘Buhing Kalbaryo,’ Cebu City’s iconic street play, this April 7, 2023.
This is the second year since the return of the Cebuano street play after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elmer “Jojo” Labella, executive director of the Buhing Kalbaryo,” told CDN Digital that they hope to draw thousands of individuals and spectators this year.
“Hopefully [the attendance will increase]…I cannot give you the ballpark figure basta tong didto pa mi sa Guadalupe church, for the three consecutive years nga nag handle ko, it was increasing yearly at more than a thousand per year, pero ni lessen to pag abot sa Espina [compound venue last year], kay I think not everybody knew nga adto na sa Espina Compound, dili na sa Church sa Guadalupe [the venue for the last act],” Labella said.
“Sa last year, daghan naman gani to nga mao pay pagkuan nato sa pandemic. [Now,] we have a better weather…I don’t think this is only for entertainment purpose. Ang mo-attend, more on devotional sad,” he added.
It was Mayor Michael Rama, with fellow creatives, who started the ‘Buhing Kalbaryo’ play in 1997 as a form of offering and sacrifice to the Lord Jesus Christ for the commemoration of the Holy Crucifixion.
Twenty-five years later, the it remains one of the highly anticipated events in Cebu City during Holy Week.
Due to the pandemic, it was celebrated online for two years before returning to the streets on April 15, 2022.
READ: Buhing Kalbaryo: The return of the Cebuano street play
In a separate phone interview, Mayor Rama said that he plans to join the rehearsals of the Buhing Kalbaryo anytime this week.
Meanwhile, Labella said that for this year’s staging of the Buhing Kalbaryo, the Pieta scene will be held at the Espina Compound just like last year. For the past several years, the last scene is staged at the Guadalupe Parish.
The Buhing Kalbaryo will start at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, April 7 until about 3 p.m.
It will begin through the staging of a Baptism scene followed by the scene where Pontius Pilate is compelled to have Jesus crucified, which will be played at the San Nicholas Parish Church ground.
Afterward, the via crucis, led by Mayor Rama, will be held along V. Rama Ave. and would end at the Espina Compound in Guadalupe at around 2 p.m.
It will be followed by another stage play, which will cover the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus, expected to end at around 3 p.m.
Production wise, Labella said they are working on a music adaptation for this year.
“Sa una, used to be, the opening overture is solo. Karon, it will be a trio. Last year, we tried it in quartet pero we had problems with sounds. So, we are working it out again,” he told CDN Digital.
He said this coming Sunday, April 2, they will be working on a purely technical rehearsal.
This year’s casting will feature professional artists, including acclaimed singer Amy Felomino.
The segments of play will be directed by veteran directors who have been experienced with the play for 26 years now.
Labella said he hope that the fair weather will continue until the staging of the Buhing Kalbaryo.
“Unlike last year nga the whole two weeks before the Buhing Kalbaryo, sige lang og uwan, wala mi ka rehearsal..wala may problema ang init. We pray for it,” he said.
He said around 160 volunteers, including those who have been participating in the street play for 26 years already, will perform and participate in the Buhing Kalbaryo this year.
Aside from the city government, Labella said various sponsors and local government units also extended help to stage the Buhing Kalbaryo this year.
Buhing Kalbaryo ‘successfully’ draws 1,000 individuals
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