The Philippines is predominantly a Christian country, 90% of the population are believers. Filipinos spend Holy Week reliving the sacrifices and agony of Jesus Christ to save mankind from sin. Most faithful spend their time in prayer, devotion, and quiet time with the Lord Jesus and God.
Holy week is a good opportunity for expats to learn and immerse in Philippine culture. It is the best time for a reflection, connect with your inner self emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Here are a few things you can do during the Holy Week:
Join a Holy Week Activity
There are countless retreats or recollection activities, enroll the family. It is a great way of spending quality time with the family members and to renew ties.
Many families go on a Visita Iglesia, church visit, on Maundy Thursday they hop from one church to another. You will be amazed by the magnificence of the architecture inside these edifices. Usually, they visit 14 churches to represent the 14 stations of the cross. Priests celebrate mass honoring Jesus’s Last Supper and perform the washing of the feet of 12 people just as He did with his apostles.
Another religious tradition is the “Pabasa ng Pasyon” where devotees alternate singing hymns about the life and suffering of Jesus Christ. I haven’t heard it our neighborhood for some time – I wonder why?
Easter Sunday culminates the Holy Week it is filled with rejoicing. A procession is held men carry a statue of the risen Christ while the women have the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Their paths meet in front of the church called the “Salubong” recreating the meeting of Jesus and His mother. Afterward, an Easter Mass is held ending the Holy Week.
Experience a traffic jam-less Metro-Manila traveling is a breeze during the Holy Week cruise around the busy districts they are like ghost towns.
Stay at Home
There are those who want to just stay at home and chill. This is the only time in the year where you have the city all for yourself. A welcome respite from negotiating the chaotic traffic and the hustle and bustle of the regular city life.
A get-together with acquaintances and relatives is a great way to spend a long (four days) weekend. Toss the boredom out of the window with running shows 24/7 from cable providers. Catch up with movies from your DVD player or watch movies and TV shows from Netflix, iFlix or the internet. Spend Easter Sunday looking for eggs in hotels.
And if you crave for drinks and snacks, there are some malls and restaurants that are open and don’t forget the convenience stores that never sleeps.
Years back, businesses are closed and opens on Easter Sunday. Turn on the TV and you will see religious programs and Lenten Specials if you still remember “Seventh Heaven” marathons which last for two days.
Go to the province
Follow the lead of the metro dwellers and go to the province, but expect vehicular and human traffic in your destination. The struggle begins the moment you reach the north and south toll stations the movement is at a snail’s pace. This usually happens on Maundy Thursday where offices are closed and Easter Sunday where people go back to report for work on Monday.
But of course, the wonderful experience that awaits you outweigh the difficulties in getting there. Escape from the sweltering heat in the city with the cool breeze in Baguio. Dive in the crystal blue waters of El Nido and discover the stunning world underneath the ocean. Explore the wonders of Batanes and conquer the waves of Siargao.
Visit Pampanga and see how the locals reenact the carrying of the cross up to the Crucifixion of Jesus. Penitents are clad in Roman soldiers’ costume and a man representing Jesus is nailed on the cross.
Visit Religious Sites
There are popular sites just outside the metro where devotees go during the Holy Week.
Drop by Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan people visit the 14 Stations of the Cross. Life-size statues represent the characters in the passion and death of Jesus Christ. Devotees believe that the grotto has water coming from a miracle spring that can cure some ailments and wash away sin.
Join the yearly penitential walk to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage church in Antipolo City. Devotees, mostly youths, gather in different parts of the metro and walk their way to the church. They do this to seek atonement, affirm their faith, and forgiveness for misdeeds. Do this if you are physically fit this is a long… long walk.