Monday, April 6, 2009

Holy Week in the Philippines

Holy Week in the Philippines officially started yesterday, Palm Sunday. People heard mass and brought along their "palaspas" as a tradition inherited during Jesus' time. These "palaspas" after being blessed at the church will be displayed usually near the front door and windows of homes in the belief that they will ward off evil souls and bad luck from entering their homes. After Sunday, offices will only be open for two days since today, Monday, was declared holiday by the Philippine Government to celebrate our "Araw ng Kagitingan" (Day of Valor) holiday.

Due to several non-working holidays, we can expect people to start up filling bus stations and national highways going home to their provinces or just maximizing their holidays by going to beach resorts, pools and other tourist destinations. Traffic jams will switch from EDSA to the North and South Expressways and other national highways. People will crowd at the usual swimming destinations and you could hear events being advertised which will take place at the famous beaches in Boracay and Puerto Galera.

In reality, Holy Week in the Philippines is now different compared to 5 or 10 years ago. Before, Holy Week, people are busy preparing for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday at their respective parishes. Washing of the feet, Seven Last Words, Way of the Cross, "Pasyon", "Bisita Iglesia" and "Salubong" are the activities that highlight Holy Week Celebration. Now, although we still see people joining these activities, its very obvious that hotels and resorts are more jampacked compared to churches. Try calling or booking rooms at beaches, resorts and even swimming pools and you will be extremely lucky to get a room.

Honestly, Holy Week is one of the long celebrations that people take advantage to get a pause from the stress and pressures from their work. Its not that they don't respect Holy Week celebration anymore, its just that people say they badly need the vacation to relieve stress. For me, Holy Week is a blessing too, although we don't go out of town, i just rest at home and spend time with my family. Its also a nice time to have a general cleaning at the house and spend time with my parents and my sister's family.

Times have changed and i wish that Holy Week tradition will still be here when my kid or children grow up. Hopefully, people can adapt better and celebrate the Lenten Season more that just going to the beach. I don't know how will the church adapt to the changing times, but i hope people will at least remember the true meaning of the season. They say that Easter Sunday is more important than Christmas because although we celebrate Jesus' birth in Christmas, we must also celebrate His Rising from the dead during Easter Sunday. And we should always remember his sufferings and sacrifices to save us all and give us a second chance from our sins.


fifi said...

hi there. holy week may have changed meaning these days. too much commercialism in everything we do, including the holy week, which i believe, must be set aside for self-reflection (for the non-religious like me). the church has a lot of catching up to do, what's with the onslaught of new technology and ideas that distract the ordinary person to go by time-old traditions.

earthlingorgeous said...

Yeah Holy Week celebration has drastically changed here in the Philippines it's like an ordinary day now. Not much of the things I used to grow-up with. Sigh.


lemuel said...

@fifi, hi! yes, holy week is too commercialized. i just heard another event in boracay this week, its a dodgeball competition! its a whole new world of self-reflection....:)

@earthlingorgeous, would you also like your kid to experience what we had when we were still kids? i remember when i was a kid that even tv stations were off from holy thursday to good friday. now with cable companies, tv will always be filled with programs

bingkee said...

Being a Born-Again Christian, we really do not observe Holy Week in the traditional sense. What we do is a voluntary fasting before the Holy Week for 40 days but not necessarily abstinence of food but abstinence of anything that takes away your time from spending time with Jesus.
Also, the holiest day, Good Friday, is the only day we hold another congregation and a prayer service in our church.
We believe that every day should be a reflection on what Jesus did for us on the cross, and remember it in our hearts that Jesus'blood and body was sacrificed to redeem our sins. This should not only happen during the Holy Week but everyday of our lives. We should try to make time of reflection, prayer and meditation on God's Word instead listening to Him and praising Him for what He has done for us.

Dee said...

Yes, you're right, Holy Week is quite different these days. Not much solemn feel to it than before. I hope too that when our children grows up, they would still have the values and maintain the essence of what Holy Week is all about, because I think that Holy Week is a good time to reflect and get a proper perspective on life. :D

Anonymous said...

Here's wishing you all a joyful, blessed and safe Holy Week with your loved ones. :D

lemuel said...

@bingkee, thanks for sharing, you are right reflection and prayer should not only be done during holy week but as often as possible. sometimes, i am guilty in this practice, i pray only when i remember to pray. and going to church sometimes is a big effort for me, good thing though my wife always remind me to at least be consistent in going to church to give thanks, praise and ask for forgiveness

@dee, thanks for sharing, do you have an idea how can we pass on the essence of holy week to our kids by using technology nowadays?

@lifesinger, wishing you a safe Holy week too and advance Happy Easter!

lemuel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jan said...

I'm not a very religious person, but I like the old style of reading Pasyon, the procession of devotees. The staging of the Passion of Christ in the town plaza - this still happens in our town. Produced and acted by employees of the municipal government. So this at least stays, but I haven't heard any Pasyon sang in a while though.

Personally, it's a time to catch up on sleep, house cleaning and blog tweaking and reading. Yeah, no rest for the weary blogger. lol.

Anonymous said...

i completely agree; holy week used to be so austere.