Christian Holy Week Practices and Traditions in the Philippines

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There is no Holy Week tradition here in the US,  but my own family does  observe a few Catholic practices here at home , such as meatless Fridays, and fasting and abstinence. (  small breakfast and dinner , no lunch ). At Dad’s workplace, employees can choose one paid personal special non- working holiday …. Dad chose Good Friday.

 

But in the Philippines , there is a rich Holy Week  tradition ( where about 85% are Roman Catholics )  that Filipinos practice with great devotion.

 

Holy Week  ( called Semana Santa in the Philippines ) starts on Palm Sunday, and continuous on until   Black  Saturday. It is  called Black Saturday  because on that day, the Lord  is………. dead.     Easter Sunday is when He rises from the dead…… no Easter Bunny celebration in the Philippines though, and no matter how hard commerce tries to inject  that into Philippine culture , no can do. .  They  simply cannot relate to bunnies and eggs.

 

 

 

Several decades ago, the entire Holy Week was officially non- working holiday ( no office work , no school ) but was reduced to just Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  To this day,  Philippine Airlines does not fly on Good Friday.  Never book a flight for Good Friday on PAL.

 

Metro – Manila has a reputation of having the most horrendous traffic in the whole world,  # 1, which is a bad thing.

but on Good Friday,

 

All radio stations are off- air, Tv networks that are on air   show  only religious movies,(  my parents say they’ve watched The Robe , Jesus Christ Superstar, and The Greatest Story Ever Told a million times ) some are off – air, too ( but then, there’s Netfix, which is not bound to observe traditions  ^_^ )  and on Good Friday,  Masses  ( Siete Palabras , or The Seven Last Words ) are shown on some TV networks.

 

Needless to say, no commerce. ( all stores and restaurants are closed )

 

 

But for some reason ,

 

 

And  religious processions all over the country.

 

 

Photo below is , uhm, Jesus in a coffin…… called Santo Entierro,  always  followed by  statue of  Mother Mary, called Mater Dolorosa ( Grieving Mother )

 

 

 

 

In some parts of the country, they hold this kind of procession.  (  reenactment of Christ’s  Via Crusis , or Way of the Cross)   <———  Moriones Festival on the island of Marinduque.

 

In some parts of the country, processions include self – flagellations (  as sacrifice, a vow, and penance ).   The images are a bit graphic, be forewarned ). Note: This is not condoned by the Catholic Church.

 

 

Real  Crucifixion where a man is physically nailed to the Cross.

 

 

 

 

Just an FYI from the country  where I came from, the Philippines.

 

Thanks for reading and PEACE .

 

Check out my manga/anime/ video games blogsite @  https://2megaworthitwordpresscomblog.wordpress.com/         I have a new entry, a review of  Netflix anime original , B: The Beginning. It’s a an excellent Japanese anime . Check it out on Netflix.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

41 responses to this post.

  1. Nice write-up Ren about our Holy Week celebrations.

    Reply

  2. “processions include self – flagellations “. Holy ouch!!!!!! Very interesting and informative write up.

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    • There are only a few places that practice that. We only know of two. One commenter here says there’s one in Pampanga.

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      • Well, I don’t guess it’s no worse than things that I knew of when I was growing up. In some the deep Hill churches they like to play with copperheads and rattlesnakes, and when they got bit they would say “well it’s up to the Lord”. I would often think ” well maybe the Lord thought you were smart enough not to play with them damn things”. I didn’t go to any of these but knew of them. So again that was one of them “Holly Ouches”.

        Reply

  3. wow! One of my Filipina friends misses the Catholic Church of her town. She refuses to go the one here. She travels to the next town because the church has a sister church in the Philippines! I can only imagine how much she misses the religious ceremonies like Easter.

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    • Just like my dad. he went to school in the Philippines run by Jesuits ( Loyola ). So, even if our ” parish ” church here in the US is far from our house, we attend Mass there because the priests are Jesuits.

      Reply

      • My friend hasnt said what kind of catholic church she goes to. If its roman catholic etc. but when my filipina friends were talking about their Holy Friday today, They were deciding if the rice and veggies were going to be enough, there she was buying a meal that had meat in it!
        “what? you are eating meat?”
        she wrinkled her nose. “I will eat meat. The other girls are fasting. not me! different religion.” I started to laugh.

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        • There’s only one Catholic Church….. it’s even in the Apostle’s Creed, a prayer we say during Mass. ” I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church….. blah, blah. ”

          The Muslims also observe fasting and abstinence.

          Catholic Churches are run by different ” Orders” , like the Jesuits, Dominicans, Benedictine monks, etc. Our favorite are the Jesuits because they are more progressive.

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  4. I was surprised to not see Easter eggs featured in supermarkets from February, that was a pleasant surprise, we have decided to go up north for a time so I will miss all the processions and such again this year. Little did I know how different the traffic would be on other days when I first hit the roads last year on Good Friday!

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    • That’s true , SteJ. Easter eggs can’t get traction in the Philippines. Each town has its own religious procession. I’m 100% sure you’ll see one up north.

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      • Travelling back on Sunday morning at 4am, I saw a local one just starting, my curiosity at that time was not at its peak though sadly. Sleep was dominating my thoughts after all the travel back from Bontoc.

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  5. Interesting post. I have seen very similar Santa Semana celebrations in Spain, where I assume the ones in the Philippines originated.

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  6. I have so much respect for the strength in faith in the Philippines, It’s truly awe inspiring the dedication. Even if a rabbit jumped in and went “HEY!! I am a WABBIT! Here are ma eggs! Buy them!”

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    • Oh, my word, Andy ! I have not read your blog for a loooong time ! Are you on hiatus ?????

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      • Ya, I had to take my blog down immediately without much notice when I started seeing my stuff appearing on ig in mass and my writing appearing on a particular prick, so I started a new blog heh ✌️🤗

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  7. Wonderful to see the traditions – I’d love to be there one day. I am trying to look into doing some business in the Philippines…anyway, great to see (except the flagellation – yuck!!)

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    • The flagellation is so gross. I don’t like to see that.

      Oh, you are ? DKPowell, , just be careful and take note of local business practices and customs. Attend seminars , so maybe you can check out the embassy there .

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  8. I watched a documentary on some of the Holy Week practices in the Philippines a few year ago – just fascinating.

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    • I didn’t post photos of the really gross ones, especially those of self-flagellations. Aaaargh. Those that I did post were the ” milder ” ones.

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  9. I was raised in the Catholic church and I remember our Easter celebrations revolved almost entirely round church services from Thursday through to Sunday morning, after a breakfast complete with painted faces on boiled eggs and the traditional Easter eggs displayed in the middle of the table. After the morning service, attention moved towards preparing the traditional Easter meal. It was a period packed with traditions in our family

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    • Easter eggs and bunnies can’t get traction in the Philippines, no matter how hard the merchandisers try. Holloween ‘s successful, though. It’s already in their culture.. Nov. 1 is Todos los Santos, and everyone goes to the cemetery to visit their beloved deceased relatives. It’s even a non-working holiday

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  10. Four years ago , I was in San Fernando pampanga and watched the actual nailing on the cross and it’s really bloody . After the nailing they are being interview and they feel ok

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    • I heard the Catholic Church does not condone this, but can’t do anything about this.

      Ouch ! I don’t think I can watch the nailing. * shivers *

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  11. Wow. Thanks for the cultural lesson. I have many Catholic friends in and out of the States, but none in a place like the Philippines where the religious culture is so homogenous. The picture of the empty highway was very telling!

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  12. Liquor must be a “partner in crime” of religion.

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  13. As a Catholic myself the Easter season is very important.

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  14. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    INTERESTING TO SEE CHRIST PORTRAYED IN ANOTHER CULTURE…AND WHAT OTHER RELIGIONS DO, COMPETING FOR ATTENTION! 🙂

    Reply

  15. Happy Easter.The greatest mystery of all.The miracle of the resurrection is new life to those who believe,.

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  16. An intriguing peek into one of the religious celebrations of your parental homeland. There are a lot of similarities between the observations you noted and those practiced throughout Spain. It all appears strange, I think, if one hasn’t grown up in that culture.

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  17. Check my post holy week in the Philippines . I took the real nailing in the cross .

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  18. belated happy easter

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  19. Posted by YourLastDayOnEarth on May 13, 2018 at 4:07 am

    Wow thank you for sharing💛 My husband and children have Filipino heritage and my in-laws are from the Philippines.

    Reply

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