Philippines or Pilipinas, is an archipelago of 7,107 islands. In this predominantly Roman Catholic country, Holy week also known as Semana Santa in Spanish and Mahal na Araw in Tagalog is celebrated in commemoration of the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ.
Most businesses in the Philippines are closed until Black Saturday or operates at a later time and closes earlier than their usual schedule. Radio stations either stay off the air or plays religious music . TV stations nationwide interrupt broadcast altogether either off air or sign-on air shows solemn shows specially religious contents like the Passion of Christ and programmes with religious theme. The Seven Last Words on Good Friday is aired live from churches and on various local channels and radio stations. Because of the advanced technologies, these remembrance can also be accessed through internet via live feed from major TV stations in the Philippines like ABS-CBN, GMA, TV5 or from Catholic channels. For the more techie, from their mobile phones.
Good Friday also known as the Biyernes Santo is a religious activity observed on a Friday before the Easter Sunday. On this day, Catholics and Christian congregations commemorate the passion and death of Jesus Christ on the Cross.
A Catholic ritual observed during Good Friday after the Siete Palabras also known as the Seven Last Words is the solemn street procession wherein devotees carrying lighted candles traditionally pray the Holy rosary.
Good Friday is seen not only in remembrance of the passion of Christ but as a time of mourning. Devotees re-enact the sufferings of Christ thru station of the Cross either at the church or where one has climb hundreds of step to reach the Cross on top of the mountain depicting Mount Calvary, where Christ has died.
As a tradition, Christians spend the day by fasting, prayer, repentance, reflection and meditation. Fasting in Catholic church is having one meal but in small portion or none at all for the more religious individual. Meat specially pork is prohibited during fasting. In Cebu, common food served on the table is the binignit (mixture of sweet potato, ripe banana (saba), white gabi, purple yam, tapioca, sugar, jackfruit and coconut milk), biko or the rice cake with caramel toppings, bibingk, the famous puto and sikwate and more.
I remember when I was a kid that taking a bath, washing of clothes and other household activities were prohibited after 3 pm of friday until the next day. Also, we should avoid cutting ourselves as wound will take time to heal.
Superstitious belief has it that negative entities like vampires, witches in all forms of witchcraft are mixing concoctions for their potions as their power is at the strongest during this time because Jesus is dead.
Time has changed how people celebrate the once catholic religious activity. Before, when you say holy week, people go to churches to , stay home or go to their provinces to commemorate the passion of Christ with their loved ones thru praying, fasting, meditation and soul-searching. In this modern and changing world, when one says Holy week, to them it’s HOLIDAY TIME and a trip to the BEACH.
We tend to forget that our lives are borrowed and we are only transient guests in this place called world. We are enjoying so much of what the world has to offer materially. We feed our body with all the delicious and unhealthy food known to man but forgets to nourish the soul with the word of God.
We are in the century where we see lots of natural disasters and calamities. Could this be signs of the end of times? Could this be the wrath of God?
“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.”
– John 3:16