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Title: Holy Week in the Philippines
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Holy Week is a significant religious festival in the Philippines . In this predominantly Roman Catholic country, Holy Week is known as b...
Holy Week is a significant religious festival in the Philippines. In this predominantly Roman Catholic country, Holy Week is known as both Semana Santa (the Spanish translation of the religious festival itself) or Mahal na Araw.

Here, in Ilocos region, a common practice is the singing of a wailing song called the Leccio. It is done as a reflection of mourning the death of Christ. Many towns in Philippines usually have religious processions during Holy Week where traditions are part of the processions.

It is a period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. It is a 40-day season of preparation for death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This season begins on Ash Wednesday when Priest marks the foreheads of Christians with ashes as a reminder that we are created from dust and to dust we shall return. Through prayers, repentance, almsgiving and asceticism  the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And also during Lent we follow Jesus through his suffering during his crucifixion and death on Good Friday. And we read the Psalms that foretold what happened during that week.

These are the activities that will be made in holy week

It begins:
Palm Sunday

Priest blesses the palms of each Catholic devotees.
On Palm Sunday, Christians celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, the week before his death and resurrection. Palm Sunday, often referred to as "Passion Sunday," marks the beginning of Holy Week, which concludes on Easter Sunday. 

The Bible reveals that when Jesus entered Jerusalem, the crowds greeted him by waving palm branches and covering his path with palm branches. Immediately following this great time of celebration in the ministry of Jesus, he begins his journey to the cross. 

The biblical account of Palm Sunday can be found in Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; and John 12:12-19. 
In the Philippines, there are some places where a re-enactment of Jesus' triumphal entry occurs. The Catholic priest rides a horse and is surrounded by the congregation, bearing palms. Sometimes women spread large cloths or aprons along the procession route. Palm branches, called palaspas, are taken home after the Mass and are hung beside, on or above doorways and windows. Although the real objective of placing the leaves in front of houses is to welcome Jesus Christ, some Filipinos say that the palm leaves turn away evil spirits.

And it continues...

Holy Tuesday

In our town, Stations of the Cross (also known as Way of the Cross or Via Crucis in Spanish, Way of Sorrows or Via Dolorosa in Spanish) is observed to commemorates certain incidents said to have occurred during the Passion of the Christ on his way to Calvary. It is usually practiced during the Lenten Season, and our town usually held during Holy Tuesday.

The Via Crucis is portrayed in the Philippines in several ways. Some conduct a procession of karosas with life-size statues of the Biblical characters, commencing after an afternoon mass in a local parish and paraded around a vicinity or town. The Passion is also re-enacted, where penitents flagellate themselves while marching on the street under the heat of the sun. 

Another way of observing the Way of the Cross is by constructing fourteen Stations of the Cross in front of 14 houses throughout the town or barrio. There is a procession on the street led by a priest, while people continue to chant the Passion of Christ. As the procession goes, people go to the stations in numerical order and contemplate on that particular station of the cross. While some religious go with the Stations of the Cross on the street, others attend the Stations of the Cross held in the church or chapel.
Next will be...

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday (Huwebes Santo) is the beginning of the Triduum (3 days leading up to Easter Sunday).

In the morning, the faithfuls (especially those living near the cathedral) join their parish priest in the usual morning mass in the cathedral. This time of the day is a very joyful celebration as this is considered by many priests in the country to be the day when they renew their sacerdotal vows.

Also celebrated on this day is the last Mass before Easter (commonly called the Mass of the Institution of the Lord's Supper) usually including a reenactment of the Washing of the Feet of the Apostles; this Mass is followed by the procession of the Blessed Sacrament before it is taken to the Altar of Repose. A popular tradition is "Church Visit" or "Visita Iglesia", which usually involves going to 7 different churches to visit the exposed blessed sacrament after it is placed in the Altar of Repose.


Good Friday

Santo Entierro or Santo Bangkay
Good Friday, or Biyernes Santo, is a public holiday, commemorated with solemn street processions, the Way of the Cross, the commemoration of Jesus' Seven Last Words or Siete Palabras, and a traditional Passion play called the Senákulo. In some communities (most famously in the province of Pampanga), the processions include devotees who self-flagellate and sometimes even have themselves nailed to crosses as expressions of penance, in fulfillment of a vow, or in thanksgiving for a granted request.

After three o'clock in the afternoon (the time Jesus is traditionally believed to have died), all noise and merrymaking is discouraged, bathing is proscribed, and the faithful are urged to keep a solemn and prayerful disposition. Siete Palabras services, both on television and in parish churches, conclude at this moment. The Mass of the Passion of the Lord is held in all parish churches with the veneration of the cross for the closing.

Towards evening, there is a funeral procession of the deceased Christ known as "Prusisyon ng Sto. Entierro", similar to the procession of the epitaphios in Eastern Orthodoxy. The statue of the dead Christ, known as the Santo Entierro, in our town we call it Santo Bangkay or in Kapampangan as Apung Mamacalulu, is borne on a decorated "Calandra" or "Carro", funeral carriage , after which it brought around the community and back to the church to be venerated by the faithful and the "Pahalik sa Señor". Such a procession may involve images of other saints, but regardless of the number, tradition dictates that the last image in the procession is always the Mater Dolorosa. Other images in groups participating are those depicting the decent from the cross or burial.

Some places accord the statue of the Santo Entierro with proper funeral rites, such as laying the body in state or, as in some instances, by smoking the image over a fire in accordance with local, pre-Hispanic funerary customs. In the town of Pakil, Laguna,a tradition wherein the Santo Entierro is smoked several times along the procession, using lansones peelings for the fire while someone shouts "¡Señor, Misericordia, Señor!".
The public sorrow attributed to this day gave rise to the descriptive Tagalog idiom "Mukha kang Biyernes Santo", literally meaning "You look like Good Friday". This means that the subject looks so sad that he resembles the suffering Jesus Christ.

The marathon chanting or "pabasa" of the Pasyon, the epic narrative of Christ's Life, Passion, Death, and Resurrection, usually concludes on this day.

And then...

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday known locally as "Black Saturday" or Sabado de Gloria (Spanish: "Saturday of Glory"), has the traditional silence and solemnity from the previous day spill over. Preparations are made for the Easter Vigil to be celebrated that evening. Some parishes have a presentation where Judas hangs himself because of his treachery towards Jesus.


Easter Sunday

Salubong (Filipino: "meeting") Photo by San Antonio de Padua
Easter morning is marked with joyous celebration, the first being the dawn ceremony called the Salubong (Filipino: "meeting"). Images of the Resurrected Christ and the Virgin Mary, are brought in procession together to meet at a designated area called a "Galilea", usually located at the plaza fronting the church. It plays out the imagined reunion of Jesus and his mother Mary after the Resurrection. In some locales, statues of other saints involved in the Resurrection narrative accompany them, such as St. Peter and Mary Magdalene, as well as St. John the Evangelist.

The Virgin Mary is clothed or at least veiled in black to express bereavement. A girl dressed as an angel, positioned on a specially constructed high platform/scaffold or suspended in mid-air, sings the Regina Coeli in Latin or a local language and then dramatically removes the black veil, signifying the end of her grieving. This is accomplished by the "angel" simply pulling off the veil, or by tying it to balloons or doves and releasing these into the air. The Virgin is then transformed into the Nuestra Señora de Alegria, or Our Lady of Joy. The moment is marked by pealing bells and fireworks, followed by the Easter Mass.

Have a Blessed Holy Week and Happy Easter to everyone!


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Edmaration etc said... May 1, 2012 at 7:09 AM

Hello there! Napansin ko you have many Region 1 posts... Are you from Ilocos if you don't mind?

Cool blog by the way :)