Holy Week in the Philippines
Holy Week in the Philippines (Spanish: Semana Santa, Filipino: Mahál na Araw, English: Holy Week) is a significant religious observance for the Roman Catholic majority and most Protestant groups.
Beginning Maundy Thursday, businesses in the Philippines either shut down operations until Black Saturday or have later opening and earlier closing times. During the Easter Triduum (usually a public holiday), some local terrestrial television and radio stations sign-off (except radio stations owned by the Catholic church). Those that do operate truncate broadcasting hours feature religious programming, films, news coverage of religious ceremonies and deviates regular programming. Many communities observe Spanish-influenced Catholic rituals such as processions, with many having been syncretised with pre-Hispanic beliefs. This is evident in local practices and the many superstitions associated with the occasion.
A priest blesses palms on Palm Sunday in the church of Plaridel, Bulacan (2012).
At Mass (liturgy) on Palm Sunday (Linggo ng Palaspás, Domingo de Ramos), worshipers carry palm fronds to church to be blessed by the priest. Many Filipinos bring them home after the Mass and place these on door lintels or windows, in the belief that the fronds (considered by the Church as sacramentals) can ward off demons and avert lightning. In some places a procession is held towards the main church before the service, sometimes starting from an ermita/visita (chapel of ease), with the presiding priest riding on horseback. Other parishes would have the priest bless palms in a plaza fronting or near the church.
In the provinces of Pampanga, Bulacan, Rizal and Laguna, as well as in Makati, a procession of the Passion of Christ is held in the evening of Holy Wednesday (Miyérkules Santo). Except in Baliuag, Bulacan, the Passion tableaux are excluded from the Good Friday Procession.
Maundy Thursday (Huwebes Santo) is the beginning of the Paschal Triduum.
The first rite of the day is the Chrism Mass, in which parishioners join their parish priest for morning Mass in the cathedral, especially in the large dioceses and archdioceses. Many priests[who?] consider this to be the day when they renew their priestly vows. This Mass, over which presides the bishop of the diocese, is when the Chrism, oil of catechumens and the oil for the sick are blessed after the homily. Priests bring the oils to their respective parishes after the service and store these for future use.
The main observance of the day is the last Mass before Easter, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. This usually including a re-enactment of the Washing of the Feet of the Twelve Apostles, and is followed by the procession of the Blessed Sacrament before it is placed in the Altar of Repose.
After the mass and throughout the evening, the faithful observe the pious custom of “Visita Iglesia”, or “church visit”, which involves going to seven or more churches to pray in front of Altar of Repose and meditate on the Way of the Cross.
Good Friday, (Biyernes Santo) is a public holiday, commemorated with solemn street processions, the Way of the Cross, the commemoration of Jesus’ Seven Last Words (“Siete Palabras”) and a traditional Passion play called the Senákulo, which in some places is a week-long affair. In some communities (most famously in the province of Pampanga), the processions include devotees who self-flagellate and sometimes even have themselves nailed to crosses as expressions of penance, in fulfilment of a vow, or in thanksgiving for a prayer granted. The pabasa or marathon chanting of the Pasyon (the Filipino epic narrative of Christ’s life, Passion, Death, and Resurrection), usually concludes on this day.
Holy Saturday (also Black Saturday; Spanish: Sábado de Gloria, “Holy Saturday”), continues the traditional silence and solemnity of the previous day. Preparations are made for the Easter Vigil to be celebrated that evening. Some parishes hang a dummy of Judas Iscariot for his betrayal of Christ; until recently, the dummy would also be burnt or set alight with firecrackers. The day’s Spanish name may come from the fact that the Gloria is sung for the first time since Ash Wednesday during the Easter Vigil.
Easter (Paskò/Linggo ng Pagkabuhay) morning is marked with joyous celebration, the first being the dawn ceremony called the Salubong (Filipino for “meeting”) that re-enacts the imagined reunion of Christ and his mother after the Resurrection. Statues of the Risen Christ and the Virgin Mary are borne in two separate processions that meet at a designated area called a Galilea, usually in the plaza fronting the church. Some locales include statues any or all of The Three Marys (Mary, mother of James, Mary Magdalene, and Mary Salome), Saint Peter and Saint John the Evangelist in the processions, which are almost always sex segregated (i.e., male devotees follow Christ and the male saints; women follow the Virgin and female saints).
The Virgin Mary is clothed or veiled in black to express her bereavement. A girl dressed as an angel, positioned on a specially constructed high scaffold or suspended in mid-air, sings the Regina Coeli in Latin or in the vernacular, and then dramatically removes the black veil to signify the end of Mary’s grieving. This may also be done by other “angels” who pull off the veil, or tie it to balloons or doves and release these into the dawn sky. The Virgin is then called the Nuestra Señora de Alegria (“Our Lady of Joy”) and confetti and flower petals are showered on the statues. The moment is marked by pealing bells and fireworks, followed immediately by the Easter Mass. In several parishes however, this is practiced at midnight of Easter Sunday immediately after the Easter Vigil, done in the very same manner./From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Week_in_the_Philippines