The Holy Week That Was or a Pre-workweek Warm Up on an Easter Sunday in the Philippines

Holy Week, Batman! It’s Easter Sunday!

I’m trying to restart my brain for the coming workday. No cold starts, please. I might as well warm up the old brain here. I’m no saint when it comes to coming back to work after an almost week-long layoff.

In the Philippines, the Holy Week that caps off the Lenten Season is either a:

Option A. “Holy” Vacation for Catholics. Holy Week + Travel to Province + Family Reunion or Staycation + Holy Week.  Most likely, there’s a Visita Iglesia squeezed in. Hmm, a mix of reflection and reunion.

Option B.  A real Holy Week for Devout Catholics. Some even have themselves nailed on a cross. (Which is actually a good way to cure mobile phone addiction– “I can’t come to the phone right now. I’m nailed on a cross” voice mail message sounds good).

Option C. Vacation/ Party Season for Non-Catholics (NCs) and Non-Practicing Catholics (NPCs) a.k.a. beach/ resort time. 

Having been raised as a Catholic, I distinctly remember Holy Week during my childhood as being spent in either our house in Metro Manila, or our clan’s official home in Zambales (I forgot if it was an aunt’s or one of my abuelas who owned it), or my grandfather’s home in the Bicol Region. I remember Holy Week to be extremely quiet. Once the Holy Week started there was nothing on TV. Even the radio went dead. It was silent torture for a boy who craved entertainment. At least it was a chance to bond with cousins, play on the streets with friends, occasionally climb trees, watch processions, and an occasional trip to the river. Boy, it was that boring! 😛 This was in the 80s. There was no internet.

Other memories include my dad making sure that entertainment was a regular showing of Cecil B Demille’s Ten Commandments or Ben Hur over at the next door neighbor’s house. Hey, at least there was an option. I remember getting excited by the parting of the Red Sea or probably ignoring 3/4 of Ben Hur. I remember the strict implementation of the Catholic no-meat policy for meals. I remember sitting through a meal of salted codfish that was too salty. That one’s etched firmly in my tongue’s memory.

Today’s Lent and Holy Week observance in the Philippines seems to have evolved into a mutated version of what I grew up with. Rules have relaxed a bit. I’m not complaining. I will always love my neighbor no matter what rules come out. How has my Holy Week evolved?

Monday to Wednesday seemed like normal workdays that seemed to last forever and had a Friday-ish or Saturday-ish feel. People were almost about ready to jump out of their chairs and out of the office door for a vacation. I didn’t have an issue and just kept on working. I know that I’ll be staying in Metro Manila anyway. No need to rush to a bus station or to the airport.

Thursday came and implementation of my Holy Week plan:  bonding with my family by visiting the old churches in nearby Laguna. For this trip, I decided to enter Laguna via  the back route–the more scenic Rizal route. We were able to visit seven churches in seven towns:

  1. Pakil
  2. Paete
  3. Pagsanjan
  4. Sta. Cruz
  5. Nagcarlan
  6. Liliw
  7. Magdalena

I’ll just list that down for reference. No pictures today. Hmm, I remember I hardly ever post photos. LOL. Anyway, the missus and the kids seemed happy that day. I’ll give myself a pat on the back. Congratulations, Brian. Spiritual and family objectives were met in one trip. This was one trip that I wanted to go on. It isn’t every day that I can get to see several holy houses of God in one day. It’s my own little way of saying thank you for keeping me focused every day.

Anyway, aside from the reflection and travel to different churches, we had nothing else to do on Good Friday. The missus and I ended up cooking a small no-meat feast, That reminds me, we  ought to fast in the coming years. Since both of us can cook, abstaining from meat is not a hindrance to eating more than a small helping.

With the cooking part over, I decided to sit down and catch up on some old movies and some TV shows. After two days of doing that, I realized that I sat down and sat through a staggering body count. That’s after a marathon session of sitting through all of the Hobbit movies (death of countless humans, orcs, goblins, and trolls), all current episodes of The Following (there’s currently six episodes with a minimum of three victims per episode). To cap it off, there were the innumerable soldiers that couldn’t shoot straight that died in Expendables 3 and all of the Cowboys that Wyatt Earp allegedly shot down in Tombstone (yes, the Kurt Russell movie).

Well, today is Easter Sunday. It’s the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus. I can say that I am recharged. I just hope my brain wakes up in time for Monday. Godspeed to me.


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