Sunday, April 5, 2009


I have already experienced a number of holidays in the Philippines such as Christmes, New Year's, and Easter. However, I am NOT into dragging American customs into the islands in an attempt to pollute or Americanize the Filipino celebration of any holiday. I prefer, instead, to experience the differences and take part in how they observe the events. Easter is a good example of those differences.

Easter week is an intensely religious period of observance in the Philippines. Many Philipinos return to their family homes from all around causing delays and crowded conditions at airlines, ferries and bus terminals all around the Country during the week before the observance. In addition, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday are ALL Official Holidays. It is sadly observed as "the Day God died" and on Maundy Thursday all the shops close, Postal service stops for the week and Banks, too, close for the period -- so if you are going to need money, plan ahead because ATMs often run out of cash. Also, by Thursday nearly all the traffic stops, as silence reigns throughout the country as people somberly attend church services. Even Philippine Airlines' flights stop and do not resume until the following Saturday in observance of the period.

Beginning that Thursday night, and during every evening afterward, long processions of people, many carrying various-sized floats displaying statutes of "Mama" Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and a number of different Saints, slowly walk through the neighborhoods gathering additional followers on their route, reciting the Stations of the Cross and the Rosary as they parade along. All along the route, family members come out of their houses and join in with the procession.

On Easter morning before dawn, every neighborhood church presents a widely attended Passion Play at the end of the Saturday night procession, and then at dawn everyone attends the Easter morning Mass.

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