Good Friday is part of the Christian Easter Week celebrations (also known as ‘Holy Week’). Good Friday is two days before Easter Sunday, which normally coincides with the March Equinox and may also coincide with the Jewish Passover.
Good Friday in the Philippines is a national public holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The crucifixion is symbolised by the Cross and, according to the Biblical Gospels, it was by this ancient form of death penalty that Jesus Christ sacrificed himself and died so that he could save humanity from their sins.
Easter is a solemn holiday season and many Filipinos abstain from activities they may deem as ‘worldly’ (e.g. drinking alcohol). On Good Friday, many choose to abstain from eating meat and often pray and fast as part of their religious traditions.
Masses are held in the early afternoon to commemorate and reflect on Jesus’ crucifixion. According to Christian scriptures, Jesus died on the cross at 3pm, so it is at this time in the mass that people become silent and meditate on Jesus’ sacrificial death.
Catholic Filipinos observe the Stations of the Cross as part of the Good Friday mass. These ‘stations’ are often paintings or sculptures that depict specific moments of Jesus on his way to be crucified. They are also often re-enacted by actors as part of an Easter procession. In the Philippines in particular, some people even go so far as to crucify themselves on a wooden cross to symbolise their devotion, as part of their penance or vow.
December 10, 2020 Maria Katigbak 28th Death Anniversary Commemoration
December 05, 2020 Teodoro Kalaw 80th Death Anniversary Commemoration
All Saints’ Day in the Philippines is usually celebrated on the first and second day of November. In the Philippines, this holiday is often referred to as Undas.
All Saints’ Day is an important day in many Catholic countries. As the Philippines is the world’s third largest Catholic country, the country celebrates it with gusto. Traditionally, All Saints’ Day marks a Roman Catholic holiday that celebrates saints who were not awarded their own feast days. It also marks a celebration of the lives of the deceased.
All Saints’ Day in the Philippines is celebrated similarly to the way the holiday is marked in other former Spanish colonies like Mexico. On November 1st each year, people flock to their family plots in cemeteries across the country. They also use this holiday to hold a family reunion where groups of an extended family gather together.
The day is filled with music and food. There is also prayer and religious traditions. At the end of the day, people will often camp overnight in the cemetery to pay their respects to their dead relatives. Visitors remark that Filipinos are remarkably at home among their dead ancestors.
Filipinos are known for having great respect for their dead. To prepare for Undas, families will visit the graves of their ancestors before the holiday to clean up the area and perform maintenance. During the holiday, people will decorate the graves with flowers and candles. The cemeteries will come alive during this period.
In addition to these traditions, other Catholic traditions are also observed. Many cemeteries will hold a special mass during the day. The rest of the day is often marked by periods of prayer and the recitation of the Litany for the Dead.
This holiday is a mix of the observance of the dead and a joyful holiday. Families bring plenty of food and drink for their dead relatives. Some believe that the deceased are taking part in the feast alongside the living. While most bring food directly to the cemetery, other families will also leave food at home on altars for any relatives who aren’t buried in the cemetery.
The Philippines is the largest Christian country in Asia. As a result, much of the country shuts down over these two days. Offices and schools both close during this period.
Maundy Thursday is the start of the main Easter celebrations in the Philippines, which is part of the larger Holy Week celebrations. According to Biblical tradition, Jesus was crucified on the Cross on a Friday (hence, “Good Friday”), and Maundy Thursday commemorates the events leading up to the Crucifixion.
Maundy (also known as the “Washing of the Feet”) is a religious rite. A re-enactment of the Lord’s Supper and Jesus washing his disciples’ feet are often observed on this day. Filipinos traditionally visit either seven or 14 churches (this tradition is called visita iglesia or “to visit churches”) where this re-enactment is held.
National Heroes Day in the Philippines is a public holiday to honour and remember the country’s National heroes.
These heroes are the men and women in Philippine history whose acts of courage enabled the Philippines to grow as a nation. Whilst National Heroes Day celebrates both known and unknown heroes, a National Heroes Committee was set up in 1995 to recommend those who should be counted as ‘National Heroes’. Following certain criteria, they found a select group of people who, they believed, should be honoured for their deeds. These were:
- Jose Rizal
- Andres Bonifacio
- Emilio Aguinaldo
- Apolinario Mabini
- Marcelo H. del Pilar
- Sultan Dipatuan Kudarat
- Juan Luna
- Melchora Aquino
- Gabriela Silang
Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio were two of the main proponents against Spanish rule. As a result, both were also given their own special days commemorating their lives and deeds.
National Heroes Day in the Philippines is held every last Monday of August. This date was chosen as it marked the beginning of the Cry of Pugad Lawin in 1896, the start of the Philippine revolution against the Spanish colonisers.
Filipinos celebrate National Heroes Day by attending local commemorations (e.g. parades, wreath laying at shrines, etc.). As it is a day off for most workers, people often spend the rest of the day with family and friends at parks, shopping malls and other public areas. Small firework displays may also be held during the evenings in some local areas.
Independence Day in the Philippines is held every 12 June and commemorates the Philippines’ declaration of independence from Spanish colonial rule.
The original Independence Day was held in 1898 in present day Kawit, Cavite where General Emilio Aguinaldo read out the The Act of the Declaration of Independence. Whilst this was an important milestone for Filipinos, the Spanish government did not recognise their independence.
They then went on to give the Philippines to the United States after the Spanish-American war as part of the peace treaty. After a war and the Philippines’ own treaty with the United States, independence was granted to the Philippines on 4 July 1946, coinciding with the American Independence Day.
4 July was celebrated as Independence Day until 1964. After mounting pressure from the community, the government declared that 12 June would be The Philippines’ Independence Day and a national holiday. 4 July in the Philippines would then become the Philippines’ Republic Day.
A parade in Manila marks the official celebrations, attended by the President and government officials. The parade showcases the Philippines’ armed forces as well as some local organisations and the different ethnic groups of the Philippines. Firework displays are also held, particularly in Manila.
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