Holy Week is the solemn commemoration of the last days of Christ. It begins on Palm Sunday and concludes on a happy note come Easter. In the Philippines, Holy Week or Mahal na Araw, is usually a spectacle—Catholics even stage a play called Pasyon which has become a tourist attraction. My Pope gives you a closer look at some of the local practices that will help you prepare for Easter Sunday, the Pinoy way.
Palm Sunday (April 14)
The Linggo ng Palaspas is the celebration of the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, where Christ was welcomed by a crowd waving palm and olive fronds. Today, the faithful honor Palm Sunday by waving intricately braided palm fronds in the air while waiting for them to be blessed. In the Mary Mirror of Justice Parish in Comembo, Makati, the Palm Sunday celebration starts with laying pieces of cloth on the priest’s path, known as latag.
Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, Holy Wednesday (April 15, 16, 17)
Though still regular working days, one can prepare for Easter by going on mini-retreats and recollections usually held by local parishes. If you can’t attend these, consider doing a self-retreat/ reflection. The UP Sunken Garden lends an idyllic ambiance for those who wish to have some quiet time. The Pink Sisters Convent in Tagaytay also offers a solemn and serene environment conducive for praying and reflection.
Maundy Thursday (April 18)
On Maundy Thursday, consider going on a Visita Iglesia by visiting seven churches. Be mindful that this is not a just road trip but a pilgrimage—so pray six sets of the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be, as well as the Spiritual Communion at each stop. You can even do Stations of the Cross. For urban dwellers, put the historic San Agustin Church on your list of churches to visit. It is the oldest one in the Philippines and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Good Friday (April 19)
Good Friday or Biyernes Santo is often considered as the “peak” of Holy Week as it is the day of Christ’s death. To honor the solemnity of this day, listen to The Seven Last Words together with your family and reflect on the lessons imparted by Christ. This begins at noontime and culminates at 3:00 pm, the widely accepted time for the death of Jesus. Some people do the penitensya or the ritual of self-flagellation but it is discouraged by the Church.
Black Saturday (April 20)
Black Saturday is usually a quiet day in the parishes as no mass is held on this day. Instead, attend an Easter Vigil and offer prayers before the image of the Entombed Christ or the Santo Entierro. At the Manila Cathedral, the parishioners enter a darkened church bearing lighted candles.
Easter Sunday (April 21)
After seven days of preparation comes Easter Sunday or Pasko ng Pagkabuhay, which is marked by jubilation and celebration throughout the world. Welcome Easter morning with the traditional Salubong, where statues of Jesus and Mary meet to commemorate the (Apocryphal) reunion of Jesus and His Mother after His Resurrection. This day is also a chance for you to spend time with your family and relatives while children enjoy looking for colorfully decorated eggs for the Easter Egg Hunt.