Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. John 11:25-26

      Apung Mamacalulu the Dead Christ who best owes mercy beyond the grave. His images are found in majority of churches all over the world – supine, bruised, caught in the final act of love and sacrifice that has spelled salvation for mankind.

     Apu, as He is fondly called by devotees, has become a symbol of hope for people longing for a connection to the Divine especially when all else has failed. Thousands flock to visit Him every Friday, either in joyful thanksgiving for an answered prayer, or in fervent supplication for favorable response to a petition.

     Every kiss that lands on His badly-bruised feet or a touch that grazes His battered hand comes with a deep conviction that by His death and resurrection, He has made all things new.  

The Apung Mamacalulu at Pisambang Maragul has the following features:

vBinihon style of carving the hair (in Apu’s case, the beard which appears as a mass of fine strands of noodles). The beard splits into two twin swirls with a cone-like shape towards the end. This is referred to as the “caracol” or snail style of beard ending.

vRed lines and dots depicting the flow and drops of blood of from Jesus’ wounds are painted in strategically located points, originating as a crown of blood from the head, flowing down to the torso I calculated, and symmetrical strokes.

vFace is characterized by a gaunt look with its sunken cheeks, eyeballs peering through half-opened and swollen eyelids, a high-bridged nose that swells slightly towards the end, a set of teeth and tongue visible through a half-opened mouth, with relatively medium sized, detailed carving of an ear on each side of the skull.

vImage bears holes at the back of the torso and on top of the head, has movable arms and head that could be mechanisms for the Apung Tanggal (taking down of the body of Christ from the cross) ritual held on Good Friday after the Siete Palabras. The torso is hollow at nth center where the rib cage ends.

vThe face, the arms and the limbs (from the knees down to the feet) bear a thin coat of black patina. Joven theorizes that it is a residue of Balsamo de Peru that used to be applied on those particular wound sites by the Recamaderas of old. The said parts of the image bear a faint odor of Balsamo de Peru, giving off a sweet scent similar to that of ammonia. The practice appears to have been done in the past but was halted for unknown reasons. This explains the blackish pools visible on the crevices surrounding the eyes, the nose and the mouth. Balsamo de Peru is a balm used to promote healing of wounds and sores. The practice hews closely to he embalming of Jesus as described in John 19:39-40 ( Nicodemus came as well – the same one who had first come to Jesus at night-time- and he brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and bound it in a linen clothes with the spices, following the Jewish burial custom. 


v     The binihon and caracol carving styles are evident but less pronounced.

v     It has movable arms and head but the arms have been fixed following a fire allegedly started by an iconoclast in the ‘80s which damaged the arms and the feet. The image has a hole at the back of the torso, presumably to help secure it to the calandra during processions.

v     Drippings of red paint depicting the blood from Jesus’ wounds appear to be smudged in less calibrated strokes, giving the appearance following continuously towards the torso.

v     The image has a smoother and glossier finish, albeit a shade darker than the Apu and Pisamban Maragul. It bears no traces of Balsamo de Peru on its body and face.

v     The face bears the same gaunt and haunting look but the eyes appear to be clearer.