By Tara Yap
San Jose de Buenavista, Antique – One of the most odd among many Holy Week traditions in the country unfolds on the eve of Easter Sunday here where an effigy of the apostle Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus Christ for 30 pieces of silver, meets a fiery, explosive end.
Biblical accounts say that Judas was eventually hanged for his betrayal.
It is depicted and interpreted very differently in Barangay San Pedro, where the members of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) or the Aglipayan Church hold the “Hudas-Hudas” rite to culminate the Lenten season.
The apostle’s effigy, which is mostly made out of rice straws and stuffed with firecrackers covered with a red linen cloth, is paraded along major streets of San Jose on Black Saturday.
The parade is welcomed back to the village plaza by Aglipayans and visitors alike amid fiesta-like revelry.
The highlight of the ritual unfolds when two men with torches mock Judas’ effigy and set it on fire.
The flames eventually set off the firecrackers tucked underneath a red linen cloth which blasts the effigy to pieces.
Joseph “Nonoy” M. Matias, a San Pedro village councilor, recalls that Hudas-Hudas has been practiced for as long as he can remember.
The 57-year-old former Aglipayan lay minister, said that Hudas-Hudas may have started as early as 1902, the year Gregorio Aglipay founded IFI.
“But without documentary evidence, we don’t really know,” Matias told the Manila Bulletin.
But a research team from University of Antique was able to trace documentary evidence that Miguel Galopo Escanillas, the father of Aglipayan priest Basilio Escanillas, started the tradition in 1925.
Anthropologist Alicia Magos, a professor emeritus at University of the Philippines (UP Visayas) in Iloilo, describes Hudas-Hudas as a unique practice.
While Magos has not studied the Aglipayan ritual in San Jose, she explains that the festive atmosphere of Hudas-Hudas manifests the celebratory mood of the Filipinos in general.