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.