Around 85% of the Philippines practices the Roman Catholic faith. That’s about 82 million people. This week is Holy Week, a religious observance of the week leading up to Easter for the Roman Catholic Church and most Protestant groups.
Holy Week in the Philippines begins Maundy Thursday, which is the beginning of the Triduum. Then, businesses often shut down until Black Saturday, or have shortened hours. This week, many television and radio stations sign-off, with the exception of stations owned by the Catholic church, and pay-cable channels. The few public stations that do operate will feature religious programs, films, news stories of ceremonies, etc.
On Palm Sunday, people carry palm fronds to mass to be blessed. Many will bring them home to place them on door lintels or windows, believing they ward off evil. In some towns, a procession is held towards the church before the service, sometimes with the priest riding on horseback. Other churches have the priest bless palms in a plaza nearby. In the Pampanga, Bulacan, Rizal, and Laguna provinces, a procession of the Passion of Christ is held on Holy Wednesday.
The Mass of the Institution of the Lord’s Supper is the last Mass before Easter. Usually, it involves a re-enactment of the Washing of the Feet of the Apostles, followed by the procession of the Blessed Sacrament. Throughout the day, many observe a custom of piety known as Visita Iglesia, in which people travel to seven or more churches to meditate on the Way of the Cross.
Good Friday is a public holiday, observed with solemn processions, the Way of the Cross, the commemoration of Jesus’ Seven Last Words. Also, the Senákulo, a sometimes week-long traditional Passion play is performed. The pasaba, or marathon chanting of the Pasyon often concludes then as well.
The tradition of mourning for Christ on this day is the root of the Tagalog idiom, “Mukhâ kang Biyernes Santo,” which translates to “You look like Good Friday,” implying the person spoken to is in a somber mood. Many taboos are also observed on this day, such as avoiding music and noisemaking. The traditional silence and solemnity continues into Black Saturday, as preparations for the Easter Vigil are made for that evening.
Easter morning is filled with celebration, starting with the Salubong, a ceremony re-enacting the reunion of Christ and his mother after the Resurrection, performed at dawn. Statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary are borne in two separate processions that meet at a designated place. This place, usually a plaza in front of the church, is called a Galilea.
The Virgin Mary is adorned with a black veil to express her bereavement. A girl dressed as an angel, positioned on a high scaffold, sings the Regina Coli and removes the veil to signify the end of Mary’s grieving. In this moment, pealing bells and fireworks mark the celebration as the crowd goes joyfully into Easter mass.
Recently, a youtube user named Quentin Musset posted a youtube video of Filipinos dancing to the song Happy by Pharrell Williams. Feel free to watch the video!
Click here to watch the video!
This picture of what the typhoon haiyan did to the buildings in the Philippines helps me think of my Legos and how you can build with them. In the Philippines they are doing construction and anything is possible! It makes me feel happy that they are doing construction and the houses are being rebuilt.
(Photo courtesy by Elsa Thomasma’s Travel Blog)