25 April 2011

Holy Week: In Passing

The flowers were all white!
The Semana Santa (Holy Week) from Palm Sunday to Black Saturday is a big to do thing in my country. Although the holiday starts from Maundy Thursday (4 days holiday leave), some people started taking their leave from work (schools are on summer break until June) the weekend of Palm Sunday. This seemed practical because the volume of people cramming terminals (bus depot and airports) are so full that it would be wise for those traveling to take an early flight and avoid the crowd.

The dead Christ on Good Friday
Catholic churches have their calendar full of religious activities. During my childhood years, my mother, who was an active member of a religious group for women, would be busy making preparations, cooking early and attending all the church activities. My constant church companion was my father and he would annotate the proceedings for me.

Behind the scenes on Good Friday: 1. the Apostles watching Christ (twelve male members of the community play the role) while the parishioners were lining up to kiss an image of Christ on the cross (Veneration of Christ) before the procession 2. Different carriages like this one bearing the image of Saint Veronica were lining up the streets waiting for the procession 3. The church yard were filled with people praying and waiting for the procession to start. 4. The Mater Dolorosa (the grieving Mary) 5. St. Veronica (she wiped the face of Jesus and this left an imprint on the cloth) 6. Saint Peter (also the patron saint of which our town was named) with the crow!

The processional candle bearers begin the procession. They were followed by the Apostles bearing the dead Christ. The Parishioners followed them to the back of the church where Christ is placed on a carriage. And the procession weave its way out of the church where the Priest will meet them and join in the procession around the community.

The procession takes hours, sometimes 3 to 5 hours, as it tries to pass the main thoroughfares. People in their houses would light candles and kneel as the procession passes by. This year, I noticed the youth actively participating and this reminded me of the time in my teen years when we were also helping in the church.

The Semana Santa ended when the Risen Christ was met by the grieving Mary in a beautiful procession at dawn called Salubong (the Meeting). There were two processions with the women bearing Mary covered in black veil and the men bearing the Risen Christ and they would both meet in church where an angel (a child) would then lift the black veil of Mary for her to see the Risen Christ amidst songs of Hallelujah! I was not able to witness this event this year because they moved it to Black Saturday and did the Salubong at midnight.

The Holy Week is a time of communal bonding for most Filipinos. The non-Catholics in the city went back home to their provinces to reunite with their families and relatives. There are those who took the time to take a vacation in the beach with friends. Others, like me, stayed home and did some spring cleaning and updated some creative work and enjoyed my dogs. The week was quiet and there was much joy in the silence . . .
I am sharing this with Lisa of:


lisa said...

Reading this was absolutely wonderful Lui! I remember as a child that we were allowed to stay home from school on Good Friday. That was a big deal to us, but the mandatory silence between the hours of noon and 3:00 p.m. was not so much fun!

Thank you so much for sharing your traditions this week at The Creative Exchange. Truly perfect for it!

I wish you a beautiful evening!


Linda Makiej said...

really beautiful photos!

La Principessa Errante said...

Truly beautiful. Thank you for the education as well as the wonderful photography.

Pat said...

Beautiful photos and traditions to share! Thanks, Lui!

Maia said...

Very beautiful pictures of this great Holiday of the Christianity, in your part of the world.

I hope you have had a peaceful Easter and enjoyed precious time with your family and friends.
Thank you for your lovely comment and I apologize for the late answer; I was in hospital for a while.
I've missed you too, all of you!