Holy Week in the Philippines
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Beginning Maundy Thursday, businesses in the Philippines either shut down operations until Black Saturday or have later opening and earlier closing times. During the Easter Triduum (usually a public holiday), some local terrestrial television and radio stations sign-off (except radio stations owned by the Catholic church). Those that do operate truncate broadcasting hours feature religious programming, films, news coverage of religious ceremonies and deviates regular programming. Many communities observe Spanish-influenced Catholic rituals such as processions, with many having been syncretised with pre-Hispanic beliefs. This is evident in local practices and the many superstitions associated with the occasion.
- 1 Palm Sunday
- 2 Holy Wednesday
- 3 Maundy Thursday
- 4 Good Friday
- 5 Black Saturday
- 6 Easter Sunday
- 7 Notable observances and pilgrimage sites
- 7.1 Via Crucis
- 7.2 Black Nazarene in Quiapo
- 7.3 Amulet hunting
- 7.4 Procession of Statues
- 7.5 Passion plays
- 7.6 Moriones Festival
- 7.7 Salubong
- 7.8 Baguio City
- 7.9 San Pablo City
- 8 See also
- 9 External links
- 10 References
At Mass (liturgy) on Palm Sunday (Linggo ng Palaspás, Domingo de Ramos), worshipers carry palm fronds to church to be blessed by the priest. Many Filipinos bring them home after the Mass and place these on door lintels or windows, in the belief that the fronds (considered by the Church as sacramentals) can ward off evil spirits and avert lightning. In some places a procession is held towards the main church before the service, sometimes starting from an ermita/visita (chapel of ease), with the presiding priest riding on horseback. Other parishes would have the priest bless palms in a plaza fronting or near the church.
In the provinces of Pampanga, Bulacan, Rizal and Laguna, a procession of the Passion of Christ is held in the evening of Holy Wednesday (Miyérkules Santo). Except in Baliuag, Bulacan, the Passion tableaux are excluded from the Good Friday Procession.
The first rite of the day is the Chrism Mass, in which parishioners join their parish priest for morning Mass in the cathedral, especially in the large dioceses and archdioceses. Many priests in the country consider this to be the day when they renew their sacerdotal vows. This Mass, over which presides the bishop/archbishop of a particular diocese, is when the Chrism, Oil of the Catechumens and the Oil of the Sick are blessed after the homily. Priests bring the oils to their respective parishes after the service and store these for future use.
The main observance of the day is the last Mass before Easter (commonly called the Mass of the Institution of the Lord's Supper). This usually including a re-enactment of the Washing of the Feet of the Apostles, and is followed by the procession of the Blessed Sacrament before it is placed in the Altar of Repose.
Throughout the day, the faithful observe the pious custom of "Visita Iglesia" (”church visit"), which usually involves going to seven or more churches to meditate on the Way of the Cross; by evening this includes a visit to the Blessed Sacrament in the Altar of Repose.
Good Friday, (Biyernes Santo) is a public holiday, commemorated with solemn street processions, the Way of the Cross, the commemoration of Jesus' Seven Last Words (”Siete Palabras”) and a traditional Passion play called the Senákulo, which in some places is a week-long affair. 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 fulfilment of a vow, or in thanksgiving for a prayer granted. The pabasa or marathon chanting of the Pasyon (the Filipino epic narrative of Christ's life, Passion, Death, and Resurrection), usually concludes on this day.
The usual highlight of Good Friday is the Santo Entierro ("holy internment"), which is the name of both the rite and the wooden or resin sculpture of the dead Christ lying supine used in this Hispanic custom. Comparable to the Eastern Orthodox practice of processing the epitaphion, the calandra or bier carrying the Santo Entierro is brought about town, normally followed by a retinue of saints connected with the Passion narrative such as Peter and John the Evangelist. Tradition dictates that the Virgin Mary, dressed as the mourning Mater Dolorosa, is always the last image in the procession regardless of the number of statues involved.
Some places accord the Santo Entierro traditional, even ancient funeral rites as that given a human being, such as laying the body in state. In Paete, Laguna the Santo Entierro is smoked several times over burning lansones peelings. During the procession, the shoulder-borne calandra makes several stops along the processional route, and is placed over a fire with the peelings. A lone crier then shouts towards the bier, "¡Señor! Misericordia, Señor!" ("Lord! Mercy, Lord!"), to which the congregation replies, "¡Misericordia, Señor!" ("Mercy, Lord!").
In Lipa City, the Santo Entierro funeral procession is silent, and held at midnight. The image is interred in a chapel nearest the parish, simulating the Holy Sepulchre, and remains locked within until the Easter Vigil.
In Baliuag, Bulacan, the 2013 “Prusisyon ng mga Santo” was the Lenten rite wherein 102 carrozas participated compared to some 83 religious images that were paraded through the streets in the previous years. In the Lenten procession, religious fervor and piety compelled the town people of Baliuag to launch over a hundred richly adorned giant floats depicting the passion of Jesus Christ.
Held every Holy Wednesday and Good Friday, the procession starts at 6:00 in the afternoon.   The grand procession of more than 80 images became an anticipated attraction on Holy Wednesday and Good Friday.
The 2013 Good Friday 102 massive carriages carrying life size dioramas depicting a scene in the life of Jesus were paraded all over town after sunset. The solemn rite on Good Friday , called the Baliuag Lenten Procession  was witnessed by local and foreign tourists, including the current Apostolic Nunciature to the Philippines' Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto who was accompanied by his aide Msgr. Gabor Pinter.  
It is the longest Lenten procession in the Philippines. The 102 Baliuag (St. Augustine Parish Church of Baliuag) floats showcased the grand parade of lavishly decorated carriages which event culminated in the blessing with holy water of the floats and the faithful by 2 Baliuag Priests from the Team Ministry of the Diocese of Malolos. Passion 
The ritual mourning and generally somber mood attached to this day gave rise to the Tagalog idiom "Mukhâ kang Biyernes Santo." Literally translating to "You look like Good Friday," it refers to a sad person's demeanor resembling that of the suffering Christ.
Several taboos are customarily observed on this day, such as the avoidance of excessive noisemaking and, in older times, bathing (except for health reasons). The prohibitions are usually effective after 15:00 PHT, and are done to mourn Christ, who is said to have died at that hour.
Black Saturday (also Black Saturday; Spanish: Sábado de Gloria, "Saturday of [the] Gloria"), continues the traditional silence and solemnity of the previous day. Preparations are made for the Easter Vigil to be celebrated that evening. Some parishes hang a dummy of Judas Iscariot for his betrayal of Christ; until recently, the dummy would also be burnt or set alight with firecrackers. The day's Spanish name may come from the fact that the Gloria is sung for the first time since Ash Wednesday during the Easter Vigil.
Easter (Paskò/Linggo ng Pagkabuhay) morning is marked with joyous celebration, the first being the dawn ceremony called the Salubong (Filipino for "meeting") that re-enacts the imagined reunion of Christ and his mother after the Resurrection. Statues of the Risen Christ and the Virgin Mary are borne in two separate processions that meet at a designated area called a Galilea, usually in the plaza fronting the church. Some locales include statues any or all of The Three Marys (Mary of Cleopas, Mary Magdalene, and Mary Salome), Saint Peter and Saint John the Evangelist in the processions, which are almost always sex segregated (i.e., male devotees follow Christ and the male saints; women follow the Virgin and female saints).
The Virgin Mary is clothed or veiled in black to express her bereavement. A girl dressed as an angel, positioned on a specially constructed high scaffold or suspended in mid-air, sings the Regina Coeli in Latin or in the vernacular, and then dramatically removes the black veil to signify the end of Mary's grieving. This may also be done by other "angels" who pull off the veil, or tie it to balloons or doves and release these into the dawn sky. The Virgin is then called the Nuestra Señora de Alegria ("Our Lady of Joy") and confetti and flower petals are showered on the statues. The moment is marked by pealing bells and fireworks, followed immediately by the Easter Mass. In several parishes however, this is practiced at midnight of Easter Sunday immediately after the Easter Vigil, done in the very same manner.
Notable observances and pilgrimage sites
Cities and towns with famous Holy Week celebrations include:
- Angono, Rizal
- Antipolo, Rizal
- Arevalo, Iloilo City
- Baliuag, Bulacan
- Bantayan Island
- Guagua, Pampanga
- Las Piñas
- Brgy. Poblacion, Makati
- Marinduque (see Moriones Festival)
- Morong, Rizal
- Meycauayan, Bulacan
- Paete, Laguna
- Santa Rita, Pampanga
- San Pablo, Laguna
- Sasmuan, Pampanga
- Vigan, Ilocos Sur
- Sta. Ana, Taguig City
- Binangonan, Rizal
- Orani, Bataan
Bala-an Bukid, Iloilo
A town in Zamboanga still practices the Capilya, where locals erect 14 improvised altars around the población (town centre) representing the Via Crucis. A group of singers then chants ballads about Christ's suffering and death.
Black Nazarene in Quiapo
A centuries-old black statue in Quiapo, sculptured in Mexico during the Galleon Trade era, considered miraculous by devotees is brought out for procession every Good Friday. The statue is borne on the shoulders of male devotees in a slow, difficult procession around the narrow streets of the district, a score of men struggle to keep the image moving on. Thousands more try to muscle their way to touch the Nazarene as if carried by a powerful tide in an ocean of humanity.
It is a folk belief that anting-anting (amulets) are especially potent if collected, made, or charged on Good Friday. In Sipalay, Negros Occidental many albularyo (witch doctors) search for anting-anting in unexplored caves.
Procession of Statues
In Paete, Laguna procession of 45 statues beautifully decorated carrozas (floats) depicting the life of Christ. In Siquijor, the Good Friday procession consists of huge, centuries-old statues bedecked in fresh flowers.
On Holy Wednesday, a procession is held with Paete's 53 images of Christ's Passion and Ministry on display. The procession goes through the town's narrow streets en route to the church. It stops three times to give way to the Salubong (meeting) which depicts three scenes of Jesus' passion and in which Paete's "moving saints" take part. These are: the meeting of Christ and Mary, held at the church patio; the wiping of Jesus' face by Veronica, which takes place at Plaza Edesan; and finally, the encounter between Mary and Veronica where the latter shows the miraculous imprints of Christ's face on her cloth. This is held at the town plaza
It is held in the Philippine Cultural Center sponsored by the Department of Tourism. Cast of characters include popular movie stars. In Taguig, Rizal they popularize the modern version of "Jesus Christ Superstar" reshown at the Fort Santiago Amphitheater for the benefit of Manilans. In Mexico, Pampanga and also Dinalupihan in Bataan there is one who actually had himself nailed to a cross for his "crucifixion" simulating Christ's passion as best as he painfully can.
Pagtaltal sa Jordan
In the Visayas, the passion play called "Ang Pagtaltal sa Jordan" is performed in Jordan, the capital of Guimaras every Good Friday. In recent years, the play's audience included locals and dignitaries from the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Canada, and other tourists.
The Moriones Festival in the island province of Marinduque commemorates the story of the Roman centurion, Longinus (Tagalog: San Longhino) and his legendary conversion at the foot of the cross. The townsfolk of Boac and Gasan are dressed in masks and helmets (moriones), depicting Roman soldiers, and unusually for the country, observe Holy Week in a much more joyous manner.
Salubung in Palawan
The saboy is a traditional dance performed by girls on Easter Sunday in Las Piñas, Metro Manila. The dance is divided into two parts, the "mourning" section and the "joyful" version.
The first dancer is the Salubong Angel, who often has large wings and bears a black veil. Second are the Hosanna Angels dressed in white, who usually hold baskets with rose petals and comprise a majority of the dancers.
Third are the Tres Marias (English: Three Marys), three older girls dressed in pink and also bearing baskets. Last are the blue-clad Kapitana (Female Captain) and Tinyentera (Female Lieutenant); the Kapitana can be distinguished by the large banner she waves, while the Tinyentera swings a thurible.
Sayaw ng Pagbatì
The Salubong is also held in Parañaque, Metro Manila, but with the Mass followed by different renditions of the Sayaw ng Pagbatì ("Dance at the Greeting").
The dance has been performed on occasions other than Easter: On May 10, 2010, during the Feast of the Ascension; in 2011 to accompany Our Lady of Good Success, the patron saint of Parañaque, to the annual Intramuros Grand Marian Procession in the City of Manila; and during the 1st Sunduan Festival in 2014.
Vigília ng Muling Pagkabuhay
Black Saturday in Angono, Rizal is highlighted by a three-hour presentation at the church steps. On Easter Sunday, the customary Salubong is performed but with the girl, dressed as an angel, descending from an inverted giant paper flower to divest the Virgin Mary of her mourning veil. The petals are mechanically opened by giant toy birds to reveal the angel inside, and as Las Piñas, two young ladies also called the Kapitana and Tinyenta perform a dance.
Thousands of lowlanders, Manilans and foreign tourists flock to this summer capital to escape heat. Hotels and lodging houses are all booked a month before the Holy Week. Others trek to the mountain to view the city of pines and people enjoying the merry making not minding the religious people are in church for this Holy occasion.
San Pablo City
Celebrities and movie stars from Manila and neighboring provinces join the most attended procession organized by Don Ado Escudero of Villa Escudero.
- Black Nazarene
- Good Friday processions in Baliuag
- Holy Week in Paete
- Hispanic influence on Filipino culture
- Kantada sa Semana Santa
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