What is Holy Week or Mahal na Araw? Why do most of the Filipinos spend much time and money as well as effort in celebrating this said season? How do you find people who are crucufying themselves and doing stuffs just to imitate the sacrifices and penitence of Christ during His time? Where do Filipinos got the idea of this kind of celebration?
Of course, as the only Christian nation here in Asia, the world are so expectant of the Filipino people to participate well in events and festivals related to the celebration of the Holy week. Don’t you know that even in some parts of the Philippines, Summer and Holy Week celebration has become a must already every season? It has become a sort of street opera for tourists – with multiple crucifixions, marathon chants and a myriad of flagellants. This week-long spectacle draws thousands of participants, as well as interested spectators.
And now let me ask you, before I further discuss the celebration of the said lenten season here in the country, how do Batanguenos celebrate Holy week? Well, simple people are the Batanguenos who find Holy week an accordant celebration and a matter that every one is waiting for. Though, we don’t have lots of festivals and commemoration of the said festivity, we do solemnize and glorify God above all during the said episode. Here in Batangas especially, people do have the so- called mountain activity which is hiking and mountainering. And speaking of hiking, who amongst you do not know the very famous, Mt. Maculot?! People not only from within the vicinity of Batangas, but even populace from various parts of the country especially those from the cities, do go there to see the “GROTO” and we do believe that going up there is already a kind of penitence for the said lenten season. Others also do go to different scenic spots and summer locations to have some fun and enjoy the vacation together with their families and loved ones.
So here’s what usually happends in a particular holiday or spree. At the beginning of the week, people engage in marathon chanting of the Christ’s Passion in their little makeshift chapels. The devout singers are mostly comprised of old ladies who take their turns in singing hymns from the pages of the bible. This is a twenty four hour commitment which continues up to Black Saturday, as the religious await the Lord’s resurrection.
Be warned that many of these street tents are located near hotels and Inns and they broadcast their chants over loud speakers so you may want to re-think where you find lodging. During the day is one thing, but being kept up all night might ruin your daytime activities.
Meanwhile, other people are kept busy preparing their religious floats for the Holy Week processions. These are owned by the more affluent residents of the town and are mostly handed down from generation to generation and kept in impeccable condition due to their belief that the figures on their carriage guide them to a bountiful and comfortable life. Each carriage is decorated with gold and bronze plated frames and adorned with cloying flowers and set in blown glass and candlelight.
By three o’clock on Good Friday, the whole town is imbibed in a seemingly sullen mood. The pious kneel before household altars to recite various litanies. Some religious fanatics flog themselves to fulfill vows of penitence. Still others, test amulets, which they vow are authentic and would protect them from any harm, physical or otherwise. At Mount Banahaw, a supposedly sacred mountain in the province of Quezon, pilgrims from various religious sects and cults worship their deity at caves, rivers, rocks, waterfalls, streams, pools and springs until the dawn of Black Saturday.
Easter Sunday is the culmination of the whole commemoration of Holy Week. Unlike the previous days, this is a time for joy and merriment. The mood is festive and the people are busy preparing an Easter feast. A theatrical play takes place at dawn, the risen Christ meeting his sorrowful Mother. The two images come from different sides of the street and meet at the town church’s facade. The people clap and cheer and once again, sing praises of hymn.
It is truly a unique experience for a tourist to witness the Filipino’s celebration of Holy Week. For the locals, this is where religious fervor, theatrics and camaraderie blissfully collide.[tags]Holy Week, Good Friday, Black Saturday, Easter Sunday, Lenten Season, Mahal na Araw, Batangas, Festivals, Celebration, Processions, Religions, Christian, Asia, Mt. Maculot, Groto, Mt. Banahaw, Crucifixions, Christ, Tourist, Resurrection, Spree, Hiking, Mountainering, Summer[/tags]