Kidlat Tahimik in lockdown: The Baguio Holy Week madness I didn't miss

Biyernes Santo had always been a lockdown period, diba?

People would limit their movements (except the roving penitensyas) para sumali sa Pasyon. The height of lock-in would be from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm when nationwide, we’d sit still below the pulpits — Ayan na! U-ulan na ang pitong palabra — to reflect on death and resurrection.

FlashBack: the Week of the Un-Holy Lambretta Scooters

Sa Baguio, Santa Semana was the unholiest time of the year in the ‘60s. Fiesta Taym! Exodus ng mga Manilenyo. Akyat sa Zig-Zag. Yes! Burnham Park was the place to be. Ja-porms lahat ang SG at SB ng Manila (Society Girls/Society Boys). Pasikat nila ang fashionista low-waist pants. At ang tight-fitting pedal-pushers highlighting their kyut little pwets as they mount the hired Lambretta scooters. Wow! 150 Italian scooters for hire (P25 per hour). Arangkada around Burnham Lake. Your crush sitting behind you, her arms around your waist, and the wind in her hair!

Kaming promdi Baguio — sa instant carnabal ng City of Pines. Kawawa lang ang pine trees sa sobrang carbon print — 500% increase in vehicles spouting CO2. Dagdag pa usok ng 150 Lambrettas at Vespas.


Plus, the noise pollution ng tambucho.

Photo courtesy of Kidlat Tahimik
Photo courtesy of Kidlat Tahimik

The bakasyonista noise barrage, walang tigil ang drone over Baguio. Then at 12 noon, biglang bagsak sa zero-decibels! Sound of Silence! Tahimik for three hours. Lahat ng easy riders nagsimba para sa Seven-Last Words. Hanggang sa “Consummatum Est."

VROOM! Vroom! Vroom! 3 pm! Balik Arangkada!

Ganyan ang Baguio Holy Week circus. Kasali rin bigtime trapos and stars — to be seen in name brand Swiss sweaters (a la Audrey Hepburn) or, leather jackets (a la Elvis.) Wala pang ukay-ukay noon, where you can get a Gucci bag today for P50.

Kaming lumaki sa Baguio — ganoon ang ’50s lockdown memories. Tatlong oras ng reverence, reflecting on life and death. Then, Vroom! Vroom! Hapi-taym muli!

FlashForward: The Holy Week of the Lost Heathens

In my mid-50s, naging Buddhist ako, learning to reflect on death and reincarnation. Hindi ako cloistered-monk lifestyle. Basta tanggap ko ang mas realistic orientation nila: embrace Death. Huwag matakot. Kasi it’s a part of life. There’s a Buddhist saying: “Death?... or Tomorrow? Which comes first? We’ll never know…” diba? Kamatayan, we all must face it one day. Yakapin mo. Relak lang. That’s life!

And today, in my late 70s, we have death confronting us all in the eye. Lahat. Buong mundo, nagka-isa… parang global EDSA. No traffic. No Work. Lockdown by Covid-19. Kapit-bisig! The grim reaper (black-caped) mowing down white-masked mortals. Whether ang paniwala mo’y dahil sa conspiracy theory o dahil sa planetary Karma, there’s that viral international harvester — AHOOO! — palapit na sa ‘yo, swallowing large swaths of our fellowmen. Out-of-control forest fire, walang patawad.

2020 Holy Week (HW) parang naging Holy Month (HM). Who knows ang lockdown baka Holy Year (HY)? Palibhasa, ang culture-shock ng walang trapik sa Session Road, isang buwan na pala! HW di napansin. Walang HW circus. Walang goodtimer SG/SB.

Walang trapos, stars na nag-Ja-Porm sa Baguio. Lockdown week # 4 just went by. Pfffft! HolyWeek, na-KSP!

Photo courtesy of Kidlat Tahimik

Alam mo, when the Americanos created Baguio as summer capital, hindi naging–uso dito sa highlands ang penitensiya gaya sa Spanish lowlands. Wala kaming tradition ng flagellants dito sa Baguio. Siguro the original Igorots found the bloodletting ritual too frivolous for their taste. Ang colonial pa-dugo… palabas ang dating!

‘Igorotes’ were framed as bloodthirsty pagans by Spanish Christianizers, who later introduced bloody flagellation! Absurd, di ba? And today "its cool" to flock to Kalinga for a bloody ritual of bamboo tik-tik tattooing by Whang Od!

(BTW, the “primitives“ – our “uncivilized tribals” — are more cool spiritually. Mas-konektado sa Kataas-taasan than those holier-than-thou pilgrims of Manila who make Baguio the Bagong Herusalem of rowdy fun-seekers. But that’s another story.)

FlashNgayon: Diary of a Holy Lockdown Week

So, how did this septuagenarian Baguio-boy Kidlat Tahimik spend this last Holy Week? Without the non-essential madness of the locked-out lowlanders? Halina, review natin the week that was:

HW Mon — Exit ako sa lockdown prison… Withdraw ako sa ATM… Purchase some avocados and passion fruits (Hoy, walang connection sa Pasyon ni Kristo)

HW Tues — Today April 7, 499th anniversary of Magellan’s arrival in Cebu! His indigenous slave could speak Cebuano — nakipag-chika-chika sa natives (linguistic proof Enrique the slave had reached home!… 100% na-buo ang circumnavigation. (Si master Ferdinand M, tepok ni Lapu-Lapu sa Maktan on 27 April — 99% ng pag-ikot sa mundo nabuo niya, getz?)

40 years ago, I filmed that encounter. Lets celebrate the Spiritual-Master of the voyage — our indigenous hero, BalikBayan#1!

Our Mangyan live-in scholar Ayang assembles a Lapu-Lapu effigy of bamboo leaves. Our Panay-Bukidnon Wilson makes the Haruan alamat fish, on which sits the rattan statue of Enrique, woven by Ginanoy of Ifugao. Renel our artist from Antique strums on the Faglong lumad lute, with Mayann our Sadanga secretary jamming on drums… Instant party! Masaya, kahit strikto ang sosyal distancing. Alay kay Enrique!

HW Wed — I finish my email announcement of a Short Film Contest for 2021. 

Let’s film stories tungkol sa sariling bayani — like Lapu-Lapu and Enrique. Overdosed na ang kabataan sa Spiderman, Wonder Woman, F.Magellan. Yes, na-adik sa Marvel-hero. Sugod mga Kapatid! Deadline: 2021 QuinCentennial ni Magellan. Hoy hindi si FM ang Bida! Celebrate Lapu-Lapu repelling the Conquistador on April 27, 1521!! Bigyan parangal bilang National Artist si Yoyoy Villame – for his historical songhit “1521!"

HW Thurs — This four week lockdown, nag-halungkat ako sa bodega ng Oh My Gulay (OMG) restaurant. In my 20-year debris I find a bag of art collages — by classmates of Kawayan, para sa SPED elementary graduation Yearbook ’92 (the year I turned 50).

Wow! memories of parenting, 3 decades ago. Parang kahapon lang. Kawayan is in his painting studio when I deliver artwork. Inspired siya mag-class reunion.

HW Fri — Our indigenous scholar from Panay must secure a travel pass from city hall, kasi namatay ang Lola niya. Good Friday na pala! Half-day lang open ang office… May his lola dance again her indigenous Binanog dance in the spirit world. 

HW Sat — Payday ng carpenters renovating Oh My Gulay and restaurant staff. OMG closed March 14. To soften the blow of lockdown, we give our chefs, dishwashers and waiters graduated pay decrease — guaranteed maski walang trabaho: 50% pay sa 1st month; then 30% pay 2nd month; gradually 20%, 10%. After that, Bathala na. So, I pep-talk the employees to cut down on non-essentials. I confess that I haven’t used shampoo 40 years, nor soap in 35 years.

Paligo ko once a week (dito sa Baguio mini-pawis lang). Wala pang nag-faint sa katabi ko... subukan ninyo. Kailangan aware tayo, yung Kuskos!-Piga!-Ads are only for profit. Di essential for hygiene. Fake news!

HW Easter Sunday – Total Lockdown declared by Mayor Magalong! Mamamayan ng Baguio! Stay Home! Hear Easter Mass in your TV Idiot Box and, for Holy Communion use your App. (Ako, hindi apektado by those advisories. Palibhasa Buddhist ako.)

P.S. Mayor Benjie, TY! Salamat! We loved your pre-Covid lockdowning Session Road to traffic every Sunday (strictly for pedestrians, for Art and for Durian deliveries). Super-Salamat po for Easter Sunday lockdown. Tuloy-tuloy ang splendid-isolation namin — to reflect on the Holy Week madness we Baguio folks did not miss… in 2020.

Photo courtesy of Kidlat Tahimik

Ay Apo! The Sound of Lockdown Silence. Napaka-Sweet! –


Kidlat Tahimik is a National Artist for Film