Holy Week In The Philippines

Easter in the Philippines is not for just one day.  It is for a week, Holy Week or Semana Santa. Friday.  Good Friday is better named as Black Friday and it is a solemn day. I should say that it is suppose to be. There should be no listening to music for example. I think though, most make this a goal, like fasting and it is a rule often broken. In the USA, most of us hardly even notice Good Friday unless we have the day off.  If you’re living the Philippines, Holy Week and Black Friday take on a much more prominent part of your life.

If you’re living in the Philippines, it is hard not to notice Black Friday. There will be processions and other activities in nearly every city in the Philippines.

There is one tradition in the Philippines that gets  much attention. It gets both positive and negative attention. Mostly men, will be nailed to a cross to honor the crucifixion of Christ. They also do this to atone for there sins.  There are a few other places around the world that do this too.

A few years back, there was an article in one of the paper warning being nailed to a cross is bad for your health. Now, if one thinks the surgeon generals warning on a pack of cigarettes is stating the obvious, this takes it that to the next level.

The Catholic church does not condone this activity. They usually issues statements to that effect. Within the Filipino culture, these people are respected. Yeah, sure, some of them do it to say they did it. So what! Personally, I have much respect for the people that do this.

I always did have some but at the same time I was bewildered by it. I was shocked when I first learned of this. After three years of living in the Philippines, it just seems like normal life. I think my more accepting view of this has come not from familiarity but from a deeper understanding of Filipino culture.

I always want to witness this first hand. The most famous place to do this is in Pampanga Province. The ceremony knowns at theLenten Rites In The Philippines “Lenten Rights” take place in a rice field in the barrio (village or neighborhood) of  San Pedro Cutud. In this ritual, the participants are flogged and then nailed to a cross with five inch nails.

I did get to witness this once, in Cebu City.  I went to a mountain top, a long hard walk for me.  We got there a little late and the men were already hanging on the cross.  In this instance, there were no nails. They were tied to the cross.

It was still an awesome thing to see. The scenery was beautiful. There were merchants all along the street.  I bought a pair of $150 designer sunglasses on that mountain and paid only $2.00 for them. ha-ha. Funny thing, that designer logo just peeled right off a couple of years later.  No, they were not the real thing.

I remember still, how one vendor had a booth set up and was blasting music. This really angered Jessie. One should not even listen to music on Black Friday, let alone blast it all over the roadway.

I have not been feeling well for a long time now, but this week during Holy Week in the Philippines, I plan to suck it up and at least go see a procession.  That depends on my being able to find out the correct time to see it!

Bantayan Island — Holy Week In The Philippines

Bantayan Island has sparked a lot of controversies in the prior two years.  There have been protest and even arrest for less than holy activities at some of the resort. The priest in the area have complained to the Governor and she took action. Two years ago, sending a warning.  It was mostly ignored and she followed that up with charges.

This year some resort owners said things would be much more toned down, fitting with the tradition of Holy Week In The Philippines. Priest have said there is no loud music blasting that can be heard in their church.

When I first moved to the Philippines, I learned that Bantayan Island was famous for the most solemn observance of Holy Week in the Philippines. I didn’t understand when I read about the activities there because it didn’t fit in what I had learned. It seems now though that Bantayan Island is returning to its roots and what is a more proper observance of Holy Week in the Philippines within Filipino Culture.

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Filed under: Filipino CulturePhilippine Religion

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