Holy Week in the Phillipines


It's been a while since I last spent the Holy week there. I think the last one was in 1998? I remember going home from Taiwan because we had the week off even if it's not a holiday in Taiwan. This is because the school I worked for is a Catholic school being run by nuns. So even if our students are Chinese and are mostly Buddhist or Atheist, that week is still observed.

Anyway, that was the last time I was able to see Holy Week in the Philippines. After that 1998 homecoming, I promised myself not to do it again or to do it at a much earlier time if I want to have the Holy Week in the Philippines. Why? It was crazy at the airport. It took me probably 2 hours to finally locate my brothers who came to fetch me at the airport.

Anyway, this is how the people from my town observe the last 4 days of the Holy Week...Maundy Thursday - Easter Sunday.

It's Good Friday today there and people are in their best behavior - haha. Seriously though, if you go for a confession on this day, you would have to wait in line. It's just the way it is, I guess. When our grandmother was still alive [I was still in grade school, I believe] she would forbid us from taking a bath if it's after 3 PM. She would tell us that the Lord has died and that everything is dead including the water so it's not good to use it. Hmm...I know it sounds crazy but hey, that's what she grew up believing in so how can we blame her? Did we follow what she told us to do? Secret!! Haha...

Maundy Thursday is the start of different activities. There is a mass at around 3 PM but the mass is not complete on this day because the final blessing is cut off. During the mass, the priest will re-enact the "washing of the feet" of the 12 apostles. After the 'incomplete' mass, the priest and the apostles would re-enact the "last supper". That's it for Maundy Thursday.

Good Friday evening is procession night. This is a night for all the statues of the different saints to be walked around the block for people to see. Those who have a statue of a saint in their care at home would take this statue to church so it can join the procession. My older brother has this 'panata' [pledge] to carry the float for one of the statues...not sure which one. The procession usually takes an hour or so.

Black Saturday...there's not much going on on this day except in the evening. This is when they 'declare' in church that Jesus Christ has resurrected. People would go to church and bring some candles, water and fire for the blessing. These things are kept throughout the year and are used as good lucks or to ward off bad spirits.

Easter Sunday is a big day all over the archipelago. In our town, there is what is known as "salubong". It starts as procession very early in the morning..like 5AM. There are 2 groups in the procession coming from opposite. One group is carrying the Resurrected Christ while the other group is carrying the grieving Virgin Mary with a dark veil on her face. The two groups would meet in the church grounds where more people would be waiting. One of the most awaited thing during the "salubong" is the lowering of an 'angel' in a basket while singing 'Salve Regina'. The 'angel' is lowered in between Jesus and Virgin Mary. It's the angel's job to take off the dark vein covering Virgin Mary's face so she can see that her son has came back to life.

Easter mass would follow. After the last mass of the day, kids and adults would gather outside the church again to watch Judas Iscariot being blown up...yep, blown up...complete with fire works and fire crackers.

That's about it. I just thought I'd write this down. First to see if I still remember what I grew up doing on this very special week...and secondly, it's my way of remembering what this week is all about.


Anonymous said…
activities during the holy week are pretty much the same. the church and some young folks are not so strict asthey used to. i guess the church has aligned with modern times. it's scorching hot, here today. and yesterday.

sana one of these days, you could come over and experience semana santa once again,here...

its abby of mom and the city (http://seaprincess72.livejournal.com)
well....i am just inside the house cleaning...only the "ipis" are dead today. hehehe

happy easter!

Pinay Mommy

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