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Barotac Viejo’s Taltal: Remembering the Passion of Christ

Submitted by on April 7, 2012 – 9:46 pmOne Comment

iloilo senakulo

Semana Santa in Iloilo is always a great oopportunity to witness the deep religiousity of the Ilonggos. The Holy Week is peppered with so many religious activities such as masses, processions, meditations, Visita Iglesia, and many more. But one that really stands out is the passionate depiction of Christ’s suffering and death – a tradition locally called Taltal. A religious event that is both intense in devotion and love – that’s how I will describe Barotac Viejo’s Taltal. The three-decades old tradition is both a pledge and a religious event for Barotacnons.

Yesterday, Good Friday, I had the opportunity to witness this famous event for the first time. I want to share with you the highlights of Barotac Viejo’s Taltal 2012.

Since its staging, Taltal had evolved through the years – from props, music, costume and acting. But one thing stays the same – people from all walks of life participate in this event, no professional actors or actress are hired for the play. Now on it’s 37th production, the town of Barotac Viejo is proud to present the Taltal in their municipal gymnasium (both for the comfort of the viewers and the actors) and with the procession held in the streets up to the hills where the “crucifixion” is performed. Almost a hundred people make up the cast this year – all wearing appropriate costumes and had played their parts beautifully.

So without further ado, here’s the snapshots of the Taltal:

The play proper starts with a prayer and a message from Jesus Christ. The Taltal of Barotac Viejo starts with the Last Supper, while most depictions start with the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane.

iloilo senakulo


And going on a little further he fell on his face and prayed. ‘My Father,’ he said, ‘if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.’

barotac Viejo taltal

 And suddenly while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared, and with him a large number of men armed with swords and clubs, sent by the chief priests and elders of the people.

Jesus then said, ‘Put your sword back, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”

The men who had arrested Jesus led him off to the house of Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. 


 But Jesus was silent. And the high priest said to him, ‘I put you on oath by the living God to tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.’

Jesus, then, was brought before the governor, and the governor put to him this question, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ Jesus replied, ‘It is you who say it.’

barotac Viejo


Then Herod, together with his guards, treated him with contempt and made fun of him; he put a rich cloak on him and sent him back to Pilate.

barotac Viejo

Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus with them into the Praetorium and collected the whole cohort round him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet cloak round him, and having twisted some thorns into a crown they put this on his head and placed a reed in his right hand. To make fun of him they knelt to him saying, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’

blind folded

 And they spat on him and took the reed and struck him on the head with it.

Then Pilate saw that he was making no impression, that in fact a riot was imminent. So he took some water, washed his hands in front of the crowd and said, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood. It is your concern.’

judas iscariot

Judas, his betrayer, was filled with remorse and took the thirty silver pieces back to the chief priests and elders saying, ‘I have sinned. I have betrayed innocent blood.

carrying cross



 But Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep rather for yourselves and for your children.


jesus iloilo

barotac Viejo

 Above his head was placed the charge against him; it read: ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.’

 ‘So you would destroy the Temple and in three days rebuild it! Then save yourself if you are God’s son and come down from the cross!’


And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

barotac Viejo iloilo

Getting There:

Just 52 kilometers northeast from Iloilo City is Barotac Viejo. It is bounded on the northwest by the Municipality of San Rafael, on the south by the Municipality of Banate and the Visayan Sea, on the east by the Municipality of Lemery and the Province of Capiz and on the west by the Municipality of Passi and San Enrique.

To get to Barotac Viejo, one can take a jeepney or van at Tagbak terminal in Jaro, Iloilo City. If by private transportation, the Iloilo East Coast – Capiz Highway passes right in the heart of Barotac Viejo, driving time from Iloilo City is about 90 to 120 minutes.

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