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Holy Week (Semana Santa) in the Philippines (Rites & Practice)

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Posted on March 06,2014

Just as the summer heat begin to reach it’s peak, the Philippines joins the rest of the Christian world the observance of the Holy Week (Semana Santa), recalling Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. The majority of the people of the Philippines are Catholics and for decades or even centuries, there are known traditions that are being upheld. 

From Ash Wednesday to Good Friday a piercing lamentations fills the air as life of Christ is chanted in gathering called “Pabasa”.  For seven weeks at odd hours of the day and night, participants recite the passion and death of Jesus Christ from the Holy Book. The reading is usually done by old women in a singsong manner in the town chapel or visita. Sometimes it is sung before home altars and electronically amplified for the town people.

Holy Week starts on Palm Sunday (translated as "Linggo ng Palaspas") and people go to mass and get their palm branches. They have them blessed by the priest and put at the façade of their homes which is believed by many to bring good luck, peace and more blessings of the Lord into their lives.

Holy Monday starts of the solemn week since Filipinos observe Holy Week quietly and it is a tradition that until Black Saturday, most would avoid parties and would just stay in their homes and pray. Same goes for Holy Tuesday and Holy Wednesday. But then, there are some, just like me, who is obliged to work even on regular holidays. In any case, we still observe the whole day solemnly.

During these days, there are different traditions in different provinces such as parades and penitence. You'll often see some people walk through the streets with their faces covered and perform self-penitence by lashing themselves with sticks usually made of bamboo. They do this in the belief that their sins would be forgiven. Some kneel for miles and once they reach a church, they'd pray then wash themselves off with water to wash away their sins.

There is also what we call "senakulo" which is a play depicting the life of Jesus Christ until his resurrection. All throughout the country, provinces, municipalities and small villages perform their own plays where the community participates. For a few, they would go as far as literally crucifying themselves as penance for their sins.

For some, they go on "Visita Iglesia" meaning that they will have to visit 9 (not sure about the number but I've heard many go for 9 or even 14 or more) churches in different municipalities or even provinces and pray and offer to the church. The belief is that when you are able to visit all those churches, it will bring peace and more blessings to your family.

On Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, which are the most solemn days of the Holy Week, most stay in their homes or stay in the church for a mass or join a procession. Good Friday depicts the day Jesus Christ was crucified. Then, on Black Saturday, everything seems to get back to normal as some businesses start to open and more and more people go out

And finally, Easter Sunday marks the most important day of the Holy Week as it is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. People would party, go out to the malls and for most, visit the church and attend mass.

The Holy Week is the observance and remembering of the passion of Christ when he suffered, died, and resurrected to pay for our sins. It is totally up to us how to observe the Lenten season but let us not forget about Him. Have a peaceful and blessed Lenten season.

Isaiah 58:6-7

6 [Is] not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

7 [Is it] not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

God bless!

I lived in Phillipines for 2 years with my parents and sistrs when I was a young boy. I still remember seeing the men walking on the side of the road near Easter time. They were bleeding on their backs from whipping themselves. You never see that here in the US. I believe the people in the Phillipines are very devoted to their faith.

Hi Woodley,

Welcome to CF Family.

Thanks for sharing that once upon a time you had the chance to experienced this kind of Philippine rite and practice.

Yet, still remember that, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Ephesians 2:8

God bless!

 

Woodley said:

I lived in Phillipines for 2 years with my parents and sistrs when I was a young boy. I still remember seeing the men walking on the side of the road near Easter time. They were bleeding on their backs from whipping themselves. You never see that here in the US. I believe the people in the Phillipines are very devoted to their faith.


 

Woodley, welcome to the CF family and thank you for joining us in the forum.

You can see a activities, like a reenactment on how our Lord Jesus sacrificed to save mankind.  People in this country observes Lent in a solemm way. This coming Sunday, is the first Sunday of Lent. 

Ellen, thank you for reminding all of us about our religious obligations. 

 

Wow! Do they still whip themselves and walk down the streets in the Philippines?

Now I know why I want to leave america and live in the philippines because the people here have little faith.The church here in america is about comfort and money, A big business.I am sick and disgusted at what is going on here.

leviticus 23 are the holidays of God. This passover begins April 14 and ends april 22. There will be 4 blood moons this jewish year and it will happen during passover and the feast of tabernacles in october this year.This 4 blood moons is very rare.It usually signifies war or special events for ISRAEL.

You can still view some of these whipping ..but not that as much on those days.

Kevin said:

Wow! Do they still whip themselves and walk down the streets in the Philippines?

Now I know why I want to leave america and live in the philippines because the people here have little faith.The church here in america is about comfort and money, A big business.I am sick and disgusted at what is going on here.

leviticus 23 are the holidays of God. This passover begins April 14 and ends april 22. There will be 4 blood moons this jewish year and it will happen during passover and the feast of tabernacles in october this year.This 4 blood moons is very rare.It usually signifies war or special events for ISRAEL.


 

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