Holy Week in the Philippines

Written and photographed
  • by
  • Vhincci Subia
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  • Celebrate or commemorate?


    This Lenten, boiling RH Bill had simmered down as Catholic priests face the already evaporating spirit of Holy Week. Many Filipinos take this chance to enjoy and not to recollect. They go and grab their vacations – out-of-town, beaches, Macau, Hongkong, U.S., etc. They take pleasure in swimming, strolling by the shoreline and beach-partying at night. They don’t mind going to the church, praying and joining mass processions at dusk. All are running under the sun instead of walking when the moon is up, from tired employees to obvious examples, T.V. personalities. Yes, there are no television shows during Holy Week because they are all in Boracay! I am not questioning their liberty nor intruding the privacy that they are claiming but I just don’t get why they still announce their plans for Holy Week (of course, with their top choice, Boracay) and other unnecessary personal things (that in no time plead for privacy when they are in controversies). What? Because they are stars, they have LV bags and they can fly miles? More than that, they are encouraging viewers to at least try this and that. They are influencing the public this way. We all know they are good endorsers, they are beyond great sellers! Of seasonings, noodles, perfumes, briefs, even flesh! Dear, we should be alarmed. Our values are deteriorating. The essence of Lent is dying away.

    Like fishes (or hotdogs) ready to be grilled, they have cuts in the skin; they are stuck and then placed over a burning coal. Indeed, it's a ruthless Good Friday in San Fernando, Pampanga. Flagellants are recounting what Jesus Christ undergone so to receive forgiveness and blessings. It’s a belief that no one dared to correct it – they questioned but not enough to put it right. It’s a tradition that existed many years – they exhibited it to the people and even tourists. I appreciate their braveness and so their devotion. But still, the ends will never justify the means even it satisfy it. What do they have in mind? The Lord wants them to inflict pain on themselves? Definitely no! No-no-no! He doesn’t desire anything in exchange but only love to all human. The blood circulating in a genuine heart is still the best solvent of sins. And let’s add a cupful of trust to dissolve evil concentrations. Discerning right from wrong is difficult. Judging may come in between. Prayers are all what we have.

    They are not lechon paraded in the streets or a boodle fight showcased in the barangay but these cavalcade of holy statues is way relishing. The leniency of parading 86 enormous dioramas of Jesus Christ in majestic carriages with religious background music in Baliwag, Bulacan will never be doubted. But its solemnity? I don't know. Carrozas alone make it not a display of sincerity but luxury. And its openness to the public and to the media just lessens the sanctity of the event. Well, processions in our own hometowns will never be overthrown. Another activity reveled in by devotees and travelers during Holy Week is Bisita Iglesia. Yes, there are a lot of historic, Spanish, old, glorious churches in the Philippines. In every town, in every province, there's a famous church to visit.  These are maintained and reconstructed with the donations of the affluent, balikbayans and politicians. It only shows then that churches do reflect the wealth of a certain locality which is a good thing because we are giving back to the Lord (that is, if finances are not handed by mischievous arms). Finding pleasure is not an insult when commemorating. Finding meaning is a must in celebrating.
    An Entry to Macro Monday


    Kim, USA said...

    It is kind of sad because this so called "celebrities" are the one trying to lead the general public to do the things they do. I think it's not all like that though. Maybe in Manila and some other big cities and those who can afford will have the vacation royale on time of HOLY WEEK. But the major population still go to church and we here in the US and as a Filipino missed what we used to do in the Philippines. Because here it's also a different kind of celebration. If in the Philippines many go to beaches on Easter Sunday here they have family dinner after the mass.
    Thankfully, I grew up in the province and my parents thought us to respect these week and that to observe it with reverence. Kaya sa Holy week ang face namin noon sa simbahan talaga. And of course I missed the biko, suman, binignit at iba pa lol!!
    When I knew what is in RH bill I was kind of scared. Because if this will pass this will become the huge turn around of our being a Christian county in South East Asia. Pagmakalusot kasi yan ang sumunod nyan gagawa yan nang bill nang legality of gay marriage, yung abortion na kahit nakalabas na yung bata papatayin parin, yung pag-teach nang mga bata nang contraceptives at Grade 3 or 4, yung pagpatay nang mga taong wala nang silbi sa mundo(Euthania), yung legality nang pag bili nang condom, pills, early morning pills over the counter and teenage girls can buy it, abortion to minor age girls with out the consent of parents, and the list goes on and on.
    I will pray that this bill will not pass. Sino bang mga senator ang ang pushed nang bill na ito gusto kung malaman and let me know. Happy Easter!

    Diamond R said...

    "Finding meaning is a must in celebrating" hindi ako pinalaki sa mga traditions pero tinuruan kaming rumespeto sa pinapaniwalaan ng iba.Di rin kami pinalaking pumupunta ng simbahan pero ang manampalataya at matakot sa diyos ang itinuro sa amin ng aming mga magulang. Kaya sa mga panahong ganito sinasamantala ko rin ang holiday from work to have time for myself.Pero di ko talaga ginagawa yong ginagawa ng karamihan. Di lang talga kami sanay sa mga ganito.like birthdays , christamas or fiesta. All those days are just ordinary para sa amin.But I don't see anything wrong of this tradition basta it makes you closer to God.

    hard2getxxx said...

    yan ang problema sa catholics nagpapakasaya while jesus suffered

    ΦΩΤΗΣ ΜΠΑΖΑΚΑΣ said...

    Η ζωή θέλει ζωή,
    η χαρά θέλει χαρά και
    η ελπίδα θέλει ελπίδα...
    Εύχομαι ΧΡΟΝΙΑ ΠΟΛΛΑ. ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!! http://fotisbazakas.blogspot.com

    Vhincci Subia said...

    You're right Manang Kim! Those celebrities often confuse us. As member of the health profession, I am in anyway or should favor the RH Bill. It is just that, the law was presented in a different manner by a lot of detractors and interpreted by the church in a vague way.

    Somehow we're the same Rommel. I am not used with these celebrations. But mind you and them too, I was also taught of the value of respect, the importance of faith and above all, the presence of the Almighty.

    Well, not only the Catholics Mr. Hard. There's no exception on this matter.

    LV said...

    Happy you stopped by for a visit. I learn so much from your blog and posts. I know so little about the customs in your land. You always present it the best.

    Vhincci Subia said...

    Thank you for being so welcoming always, LV! :) I hope I really presented my posts well to my readers internationally like you...

    youth_in_asia said...

    Fantastic entry. I'm one of those who went on vacation during the holy week, but I did so to be with some loved ones. I guess it's a little different! I do hope you enjoyed your Easter.

    Vhincci Subia said...

    Thanks Jon! :) Well, it's ok to be with loved ones. This is the simplest essence of the season.

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