Binay’s Rosary: The Use (or Misuse) of Religious Iconography
To B, or not to B, that is the question. Is Binay’s “bracelet” a bracelet, as claimed by United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) spokesperson Mon Ilagan, or is it a “rosary” as interpreted by one Kath Lin, whose Facebook post, “With VP Binay?!! Salamat po sa rosary” (Thank you for the rosary), triggered the controversy over a politician’s alledged irreverent misappropriation of a religious symbol for political gains. Was Kath Lin a devout Catholic who simply “misinterpreted” Binay’s bracelet? The question can be answered if we revisit some of the key elements of Binay’s bracelet.
Binay’s Beads (number, color, size, sequence) Binay’s Bracelet contains 20 beads with 5 small beads and 15 large beads with all colored dark brown. Certainly, rosaries do not have a monopoly in the use of beads, even brown colored beads at that. But, if the indeed Binay’s rosary was a bracelet, then using multi-colored beads (blue, red, yellow, green, even purple,) would have been a much better choice rather than the monochrone brown beads usually seen in traditional wooden rosaries. A circus of colors to lessen the monotony of the day. More importantly, if one gazes carefully at the sequencing of the small and large beads, a familiar pattern emerges: 1 large, 1 small , 3 large, 1 small, 1 large, 1 small, 10 large,1 small bead. Anyone whose religious life included the praying of the Holy Rosary can understand the sequence (1 Our Father, 3 Hail Mary’s, 1 Glory Be, 10 Hail Mary’s). But if Binay’s bracelet was indeed a bracelet, why not just have all 20 beads of the same size? or why not have a different sequence, say 1 small, 5 large, 1 small, 5 large (repeat). Certainly, in this case, Binay’s bracelet contained a sequence of beads associated with the Holy Rosary – placing the beads in such a sequence is not a random act.
Binay’s Cross. Binay’s Bracelet contains what seems to be a square cross (cross of equal arms) traditionally associated as the Greek cross, except that there is a letter B in the middle of the cross. In a predominantly Christian country, the symbolism of the “cross” can’t be easily hidden even if it is stamped (or painted) with the letter “B”. If indeed a bracelet, why not use a triangle, a square, even a circle, or even a sculpted letter B, instead of a cross?
Conclusion.Thus, the element of the cross and the beads seem to lead us to conclude that Binay’s Bracelet contains religious symbols associated with the Holy Rosary. No wonder Kath Lin saw Binay’s bracelet as a rosary. If indeed the intention was to give out bracelets, then a complete redesign of the bracelet’s elements is in order: use colored beads, change sequence of small and large beads, remove the cross. If done, then by all means, retain the B.