[08] Thematic Fragments as Unitive-Revelatory Horizons

As already pointed out, the Theo-dulâ brings our individual dramas to participate in God’s saving drama, thanks to the notion of the dramatic horizon which makes possible our revelatory and unitive experiences. But specifically which are these horizons? Von Balthasar suggested three themes present in any dramatic production: death, the struggle for the good, and judgment. These themes are also found in the drama of human existence. After all, it is the drama of existence that the drama on the stage represents. To these, Garcia-Rivera adds a fourth theme as horizon: the struggle for the role. Cronin too suggests another “dramatic fragment” from which the memory of God’s drama emerges. This is the ancient event of shamanic ritual. Shamanism and shamanic ritual actually resonate with the Filipino experience, since the indigenous people of the pre-colonial Philippines were practicing Traditional Religion before the Christianization of the Philippines. Today, traces of shamanism and shamanic ritual which remain part of contemporary Traditional Religion are discernible in folk Christianity. Finally, I propose yet another theme as dramatic horizon, lakaran.[1] It is derived from a dramatic Filipino experience during the Spanish colonial time and bears the influence of the Tradition Religion practiced by the indigenous people of the Philippines even before they were colonized and Christianized. Lakaran as ritual remains alive and is practiced today by adherents of traditional religions in the Philippines and even by folk Christians.[2]

What follows below are brief presentations of the six dramatic horizons mentioned above. Obviously, the inclusion of the shamanic ritual and lakaran among these dramatic horizons is motivated by the commitment to tap indigenous dramatic elements in developing the Theo-dulâ, a theological dramatics that relates to the Filipino experience.

  1. Death
  2. Struggle for the good
  3. Judgment
  4. Struggle for the role
  5. Shamanic ritual
  6. Lakaran


[1] The Tagalog word lakad means to walk. Used as a noun, lakad can mean mission or purpose. Lakaran (literally translated as “journey on foot”) is better translated as “journey with a purpose.” It connotes a sacred journey, a vision quest or a pilgrimage for a cause which demands a true sacrifice. On the topic of Lakaran and Evangelization, see Leonardo N. Mercado, “Lakaran: a Filipino way of proclaiming Christ,” Studia Missionalia 51 (2002): 308-9; Teresita Obusan, “Lakaran, a Popular Method of Evangelization,” Life Today (November 1982): 25-26.

[2] An example of a traditional religion is Tatlong Persona Solo Dios (Three Persons One God). This was founded on Mt. Banahaw in Quezon Province, Philippines, under the inspiration of Agapito Ellustre, also known as Amang Illustrismo. Adherents of this traditional religion continue to enact indigenous cults on the sacred mountain of Banahaw, cults that may well be taken for ritualized lakaran. In Folk Catholicism, lakaran finds expression in popular processions like the annual procession of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo in Manila, Philippines, and the Santo Niño procession in Cebu, Philippines.