Originate from the introduction of Catholicism by the Spaniards, Philippines is now the most devoted Catholic country all over Asia. 95% of its population are Christians, and Christianity combines well with the faith, tradition and culture of the entire nation. That’s why many festivals and celebrations have originally from Christianity in the Philippines. One of these observations is the Holy Week in the Philippines, which follows the last week of Christ on Earth regarding the New Testament.
More on devoted Filipinos pursue deep-rooted practices and beliefs during the Holy Week. Church mass, prayer vigils, and processions are shared across the nation since when are holy week celebrated from the Spanish era. And some areas even portray the events of Christ’s last points, such as whipping and crucifixion. Yes, many believers volunteer to tried martyrdom because of their belief.
That’s why you should know these holy week curiosities before going to visit the country. It would lead you through your holiday vacation, and appreciate the cultural tradition of Filipinos on a broad level.
Masses and Processions during Holy Week in the Philippines
Filipinos handled different masses and processions all through holy week Philippines celebration each year. And remarkably, these celebrations closely resemble habits in Spain. For example, it’s common to find thrones and sculptures depicting the Stations of the Cross, accompanied by music from orchestras. Believers are singing and praying behind the dominions as well while lighting candles for the saints.
This shows the picture of how Filipinos celebrate Holy Week in the Philippines. And these are only simple traditions they practice through many centuries, which tourists can witness or even join. However, Holy Week takes drastic peaks on certain areas. Some provinces or towns celebrate the life, passion and death of Jesus Christ quite literally, which makes Holy Week in the country different from the rest of the world.
Moriones is a festival celebrated in the South-western Tagalog Region, on the island of Marinduque. The place is one of the highlights where the holy week is celebrated in the country. This features locals dressing-up as ancient Roman soldiers, and they depict an intent to search for San Longino or St. Longinus. San Longino is the Roman soldier who have stabbed Christ’s side using a glance at the end phases of the crucifixion.
The disguised locals, called the “Moriones”, would search for San Longino from Holy Monday to the Holy Easter festival. They wear ancient Roman soldier costumes, but with colourful robes, masks and helmets. Then, they walk around the city within the week, all the while scaring-off kids and getting the attention of people.
Passion play or Senakulo
In San Fernando, Pampanga, many devout Catholics make annual depiction of the Passion of the Christ. When Spaniards conquered Pampanga on 1565, they introduced the Catholic belief to the locals. People in the area converted to Catholicism, and have since practicing different traditions during Holy Week. And one of the most popular ways on how is Holy Week celebrated is through these plays.
Actors play roles for such depiction, such as for Joseph, Mary and Christ. Of course, the 12 apostles are present as well. Then, scripture readings are done for the Holy Week in the Philippines, with the use of actual ancient scripts from the Bible and local folktales.
Pampanga. It’s meanwhile the crucifixion of devotees are doing. Some are hanged using ropes, while others choose real large nails for their hands and feet. However, they only stay on the cross for a few minutes, thus evading death on the event. And they do this to wash their sins away, and as a thanksgiving for marvels, they have received.
During these severe events which are celebrated in Holy Week, first aid staff is on lead at the area. They are prepared to tend medical emergencies, such as cases of fainting and dehydration because of hot weather. Also, they provide first aid for the deep and large wounds of penitents, but these injuries usually last for many days or even weeks before healing entirely.
Followers claim this is the way for their sins to be forgiven. But the Roman Catholic Church leaders and form officials expressed concern about the risk associated with these presentations. However, locals of San Fernando, Pampanga does not have any intentions of stopping this show during Holy Week in the Philippines.
That’s why these shows became famous for many local and international tourists. The celebration became one of the tourist attraction of the Philippines which you can visit through Lent. Many tourists go to San Fernando, and they follow devotees and penitents through the show.
Aside from the traditions mentioned above, there are other practices which are celebrated in the holy week by Filipinos. Thus, it’s wise to know about other celebrations you can visit throughout your vacation.
When to visit the Philippines for the Holy Week Celebration
For example, aside from the commemoration of the passion and death of Jesus, Easter Sunday is also a significant event in the Philippines. This is the “Salubong,” wherein two separate processions, one for Christ and one for Mary, appear in front of a cathedral. People group as kids costumed as angels sing a festive tune. And this is a meaningful event about what is done in a holy week in the country.
Furthermore, I know when a holy week is observed by checking your calendar. It falls on March or April, but different dates annually. This is because of its similarity to the lunar phases in a year. Also, note to program your arrival around one week before the Holy Week. This is to avoid the crowd, especially on many transport lines in the country.
Holy week is one of the centerpieces of Philippine culture. Thus, be sure to see the different events of the Holy Week in the Philippines so that you would acknowledge the country on a more profound level.