Rev. Fr. Hermel O. Pama, O.P., PhD, an anthropologist and faculty member of the Faculty of Philosophy, presented his research paper entitled “The Voice and the Voiceless: Startling Sacred and Sacred Starts,” during the April 25-26, 2019 International Conference on Religion and Spirituality in Society, in Granada, Spain. The conference bore the theme “Universal Religious Symbols: Mutual Influences and Specific Relationships.”
Fr. Pama’s study explored “voice as a paradigm of culturally-appropriated hierophanies, with its binary, the ‘voiceless’ referring to silent manifestations employing visual and other experiential modes of communication.” According to Fr. Pama, the phenomenon is common among the Catholic cult of saints in the Philippines. He cited the Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia in Bicol and the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Manaoag in Pangasinan, both of which draw thousands of pilgrims throughout the year.
While the Peñafrancia was fished out of the river, the Manaoag appeared and called from atop a hill. Both revelatory models, according to Fr. Pama, “are found in the narratives of the sacred as Santong Boses (sacred voice), in the religious tradition surrounding Mount Banahaw in the Southern Tagalog region.” The study “explored voice as contested power, and as universal paradigm in God talk: as startling starts, and at the start / incipience of religion as a startling experience.”