A sculpture believed to have been imported in town during Spanish colonial conquest, locally known as Mahal na Señor Sepulcro, is celebrating its 500 years. Meanwhile, composed of non-actors, Senakulo re-enacts the sufferings and death of Jesus. As the local community yearly unites to commemorate the Passion of Christ, a laborious journey unfolds following local craftsmen in transforming blocks of wood into a larger than life Jesus crucified on a 12-ft cross. The film is a 5-year visual ethnography of traditional yet practical orchestration of Semana Santa in a small town where religious woodcarving is the livelihood. An experiential film on neocolonial Philippines’ interpretation of Saints and Gods through many forms of rituals and iconographies, exposing wood as raw material that undergoes production processes before becoming a spiritual object of devotion.
About the Director
Hiyas Baldemor Bagabaldo grew up in a family of artists and craftsmen in Paete, a small artisanal town in the Philippines. With a degree in Digital Filmmaking, she started merging her background in traditional arts with digital media that gave her an edge in visual storytelling. Most of her works are invested in visual elements. Her approach is experiential, aiming to blur and reveal correlation, contradiction, and multiple meanings behind constructed socio-political realities, personal and public spaces, Filipino colonial past, spiritual beliefs, and human strengths and weaknesses.