CEBU CITY, Philippines - A new place to pray the Via Crucis on Holy Week could bring you to a mountain farm in Barangay (village) Sirao, Cebu City where the steps of Jesus Christ?s last agony are marked by garden plots tended by former prisoners who know what suffering means.
Stations of the cross are chiseled in marble resin blocks.
As Jesus hangs on the cross, his head droops with small beads of sweat and blood seeming to fall to the ground.
That?s Rudy Alix's interpretation of the 13th Station where Jesus dies on the cross.
Alix, a businessman who is active in church-based groups like C-Cimpel, Dilaab and the Friends of Pedro, completed a bas relief set of the 14 Stations of the Cross. The stations are spread throughout the farm.
He invites people to study the facial expressions of Jesus from the first station to the last.
?At the scene where Jesus is hanging from the cross, his face is serene. At the resurrection, there is that expression that he knows that the prophecy has been fulfilled,? he said.
For inspiration, he said he watched Mel Gibson?s movie ?The Passion of the Christ.?
The project took almost two years and the sale of his 1970 Mustang V8 model to a balikbayan.
?My problem was funding. There is a lot of design and development that must be done,? Alix said.
He researched on the clothing of the Bible characters and the backdrops. Alix also bought equipment to take digital photos and downloaded software from the Internet.
He purchased special chisels from Singapore that made his work faster.
?The work on the bas relief sculpture was faster. It was like working with butter,? he added.
He used ?The New Stations of the Cross? that was published in 1992 with the imprimatur or approval by the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin.
This version, which does not include the traditional scene wherein Veronica wipes the face of Jesus, contains the chapters in the life of Jesus that are found in the bible.
Birth of a project
Alix was prompted to start the project after visiting and praying the Via Crucis at the Nuestra Señora de Patrocino church in Boljoon town, southern Cebu.
?Christ died on the cross. I contemplated on this and realized that you see the love behind it. It was not only the suffering and the pain that he went through for us, it was love,? Alix said.
Alix's wife, Louella, who helps supervise the Cebu Cathedral Museum, said that when their first grandson was born three years ago they realized how much they were blessed.
?Here is this little guy, you hardly know him but you pledge to love him for the rest of his life,? Rudy said. ?Then I thought if I feel this way for this one little bundle of humanity, how much more for God? I can just imagine how God loves us.?
Louella said it was at this time that her husband decided to pursue the project.
?He said that we were so blessed, that he has nine reasons to be thankful to God for,? she said.
Rudy said his nine ?reason? are his wife, two daughters, his two sons-in-law, the three grandchildren and his nephew, Diego.
He donated sets of the Stations to nine churches or institutions, which include the Pag-asa Sa Paglaya (PSP) Restorative Justice Center; Dilaab Foundation; the parish church in Putat, Tuburan; Cagayan; Bacolod and Malaybalay in Bukidnon province.
The Alix couple donated one set to the PSP Center in Sirao, a facility that houses released prisoners.
The center's director, Martin Perfecto, said they were planning to set up the Stations of the Cross ?to add to the appeal of the farm, to make people have some reason to go all the way up here.?
Father Vic Labao, founder of the Center, has already translated the prayers to Cebuano and this will be used on Good Friday.
He said Rudy Alix brought the set about a month ago. It was the idea of landscaper Deena Pages to attach the art pieces to wooden posts made from old railroad tracks.
Alix tried to use earth colors or the mud at the farm, which provided depth to the art pieces.
?It is my first time to see Stations that portray a different perspective. The Station on the repentant thief is from the point of view of Jesus looking at the thief,? he added.
Perfecto said that they welcome projects like this that help deepen the faith of the members of their community.
?Especially in the case of the Stations of the Cross, which in Filipino culture or Christian culture focuses on the suffering and the death of Jesus. With my experiences with inmates, they can relate to the passion and suffering of Jesus because of their experiences,? he added.
He said that inmates are not only deprived of material things but they lack access to activities that would sustain their spiritual needs.
?If you look at Christ's life, I think the hilt of his poverty came with the poverty of offering himself, that's the Passion (on the cross),? Perfecto said.
A set of the Stations of the Cross on marble resin will be offered for sale at P25,000 per set.
Alix said orders can be placed through the PSP Center in Sirao farm through Fr. Vic Labao and at the Dilaab Movement Inc. office at the St. Jerome Bible Center through its overall coordinating steward Fr. Carmelo Diola.
?If they buy from Fr. Vic and Fr. Melo, they are also helping fund their projects,? he said.
The set is also displayed at the Alix family?s novelty store, Presents and Such, along Gorordo Avenue in Cebu City.