This exhibit presents images of the Holy Child and the suffering Christ crafted during the early years of the Spanish occupation. It gives a glimpse of how Christ was introduced to the Filipinos as a new master and role model in the context of introducing a colonial power and a new order of life. - D. Santos
A small high relief home altarpiece carved from a single block of Narra wood. The standing naked image of the Child Jesus bears the classic pose, holding an orb in the left hand while raising the right hand in benediction. The Spanish conquest of the Philippine islands largely involved the introduction and propagation of a new religion and a new God. Introducing the Christian faith through religious images started with a huge cross and an image of the Child Jesus.
Most historians believe that the image of the Holy Child, now enshrined in the Minor Basilica of Cebu may be the first piece of Christian art ever to arrive in he Philippines. Quite similar to that image is this small polychromed Holy Child carved from hardwood. Standing on a globe, it regally wears a 16th century Spanish court dress with cape, one of the most popular costume of the Child Jesus in the Philippines.
An interesting rendition of the Holy Child standing on a cloud base, wearing a long, wind swept robe and a mantle, similar to renditions of the Immaculate Conception. This interpretation presents the Christ Child as a divine savior descending from the heavens, in contrast to those dressed like earthly royalties. The primitive proportions make the image look like a young adolescent.
On the other hand, the cross, apart from signifying that Spain has conquered the land in the name of God, also served as a prelude to the numerous images of the suffering Christ popularized by Spanish conquistadores. This is an image of a half-naked Christ with arms crossed in bondage. The figure is cut at the hips, partially exposing the draped loincloth. Ecce Homo in Latin means, "Behold the Man" (John 19:5), an utterance of Pontius Pilate. A scene popularly depicted in Christian art, it commemorates the moment when, after being scourged and mocked, Jesus was presented for the second time to the populace, who clamored for His sentence to death by crucifixion.
This popular scene in the passion of Christ depicts Jesus' venerable display of forbearance in the face of mockery. This image shows a seated Christ in serene contemplation. It should be viewed in a context where He was stripped off of His clothes and the crowd were throwing physical and verbal insults at Him.
Another image of Christ that exhibits calmness in the face of mockery. Filipinos' fervent devotion to the Suffering Christ later evolved to paradoxical renditions where images of Christ in agony were supplied with luxury items such as heavily embroidered robes and bejewelled loincloths of solid gold (Jose, 1991).
The legendary feast of the Black Nazarene and the steadfast observance of Filipinos to the season of Lent shows how the image of the suffering Christ has taken root in the lives of Christian Filipinos.
The images of Christ popularly venerated in the Philippines became symbols and centers of worship and mysticism. These are signifiers of the merging of two religions, where pre-hispanic Filipino faith adopted Christianity.
Jose, Regalado. Simbahan: Church Art in Colonial Philippines, 1565-1898. Makati: Ayala