One of the most enduring traditions of Filipino Catholics during Holy Week is the reading and singing of the Pasyon—an epic narrative of the life, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Now, one man has used the rhyme and rhythm of the Pasyon to tell the beauty and wonders of Mother Nature.
Eriberto “Toto” Saños, the Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer of Coron in Palawan, wrote the Pasyon ng Inang Kalikasan (The Passion of Mother Nature), which is inspired by the traditional Pasyon.
Saños says the inspiration for the book goes all the way back to his childhood, when he started reading the Pasyon ng Mahal na Poong Hesukristo.
“Maliit pa lang akong bata ay kinahiligan ko na ang pag-awit at pagbasa ng Pasyon. Hindi naman po sa pagyayabang, pero noong ako po ay Grade 3 pa lang, ay saulado ko na po iyan (I was just a small kid when I took interest in reading and singing the Pasyon. I have memorized the text of the Pasyon since I was in Grade 3),” he said.
However, it was only in recent years when Saños, who is also a Rizalista (a devotee of Philippine national hero Jose Rizal), began incorporating the form and music of the Pasyon into secular topics.
“Noong ako’y maging Rizalista, naisip ko na kung may Pasyon ang ating mahal na Panginoong Hesus, dapat may pasyon din ang pambansang bayani na aming dinadakila na si Dr. Jose Rizal (When I became a Rizalista, I thought, if Jesus Christ has his passion, then why not have one for our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, whom we venerate?),” Saños said.
Saños completed the Pasyong Mahal ni Amang Dr. Gat Jose P. Rizal—Ang Kristong Pilipino, also known as Pasyong Rizal in 2011. After that, influenced by his career as a forester and his work for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, he went on to write the Pasyon ng Inang Kalikasan, which was released in 2016.
“Kung tuloy-tuloy ang pagsulat ko nito, siguro ito’y mayayari sa tatlo o apat na buwan. Kaya lang, dahil sa ating trabaho, isinisingit ko lang ang pagsulat nito kung may pagkakataon. Kaya inabot ito ng isang taon (If I had written it down continuously, it would probably have been finished in three to four months. But since I have work, I just write when I can, and I finished this in a year),” he said.
The Pasyon ng Inang Kalikasan contains a wealth of information about nature coming from both science and spirituality, all expressed in the form of a metrical romance, with five lines of eight syllables each.
Some of the more spiritual topics include the synergy of man and nature and the four elements of the universe (earth, wind, air, fire). Meanwhile, on the more science-based side, the topics include global warming and climate change, processes such as the hydrographic cycle and the nitrogen cycle, as well as the five laws of ecology.
Up to this day, Saños says that he is still overwhelmed when he realizes that he was able to write the book.
“Maganda ang pakiramdam ko na naipahayag ko sa ganintong paraan ang ganda at pakinabang ni Inang Kalikasan. Pero pag binabasa ko ito, hindi ko alam na isinulat ko ito (It’s great to be able to express in this form the beauty and value of Mother Nature. But when I read this, I still cannot believe that I wrote all of this),” he said.
“Saulado ko ang Pasyong Katoliko, pero ito, hindi ko maisaulo. Kaya nagtataka ako kung bakit ko ito naisulat. Siguro nga itinakda ng Inang Kalikasan na isulat ko ito (I have memorized the Pasyon a long time ago, but this one, I really cannot memorize it. So I really wonder whether it was I that wrote this. Maybe Mother Nature worked through me to do this),” he added.
Saños hopes that the Pasyon ng Inang Kalikasan can become a tradition that is read or sung every Earth Day, just like how the Pasyong Mahal ng Panginoong Hesukristo is sung every Holy Week. (Nathaniel R. Melican)