Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia 34, no. 3 (2018), 29-58.
Reynaldo Ileto’s Pasyon and Revolution revisited, a critique.
Reynaldo Ileto’s 1979 work Pasyon and Revolution: Popular Movements in the Philippines, 1840-1910, attempted to reconstruct the categories of perception of the “the masses” by using the religious performance of the suffering and death of Christ, the pasyon, as source material.
Critical re-examination of his work reveals that the attempt was deeply flawed. It engaged with the pasyon as a literary text, ignored the significance of its performance and treated it in an ahistorical manner.
An attentiveness to performance demonstrates that the pasyon was a cross-class and linguistically specific phenomenon. This insight dramatically attenuates the argumentative force of Ileto’s claim to provide an historical understanding of the consciousness of the masses and their participation in revolution.