Holy Week in the Philippines: 6 Festivals and Traditions Pinoys Practice
How do you observe the Holy Week?
by Ina Louise Manto | April 06, 2023
With a population that’s largely Roman Catholic, the Lenten Season and observance of the Holy Week remains a huge annual event. We have the usual superstitions we all grew up with, but different cities across the country have variations of observing the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Take a look at some Holy Week festivals and traditions in the Philippines:
Visita Iglesia is a Holy Week tradition that has been practiced since the 1500s. On Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, families visit at least seven churches to fourteen churches to pray before the Stations of the Cross. The pilgrimage usually begins on the evening of Maundy Thursday and must end before 3 PM on Good Friday. With the changes of modern times, some may choose to visit churches before Maundy Thursday to avoid crowds and adjust to busy schedules.
Maleldo in Pampanga
Born in the city of San Fernando, Pampanga, Maleldo is the annual reenactment of Christ’s crucifixion. The tradition began in 1955, with a staging of Via Crucis (Way of the Cross), which is a piece about the passion of Christ written by Kapampangan Ricardo Navarro. It was only in 1962 that the actual crucifixion happened, with volunteer artists who had extra time on their hands from the holidays. Artemio Anoza was the first Kapampangan who volunteered to be crucified as a sacrifice; it has become a tradition since then, with more men following suit.
This year, 62-year-old Ruben Enaje, also known as “Kristo” in the annual Maleldo, will perform his final reenactment of the crucifixion after more than three decades.
Moriones Festival in Marinduque
The island of Marinduque is known for its week-long celebration of the Moriones Festival. Its name comes from the word “morion” which means masks. During the festival, men and women dress in masks and costumes to march around the streets for seven days to search for Longinus, a Roman centurion. The colorful festival reenacts the story of Longinus, and you’ll see performers engage with town folk by scaring kids or doing other antics. One of its highlights includes the reenactment of the suffering of Christ, with volunteers parading around the streets while whipping their backs, carrying crosses, or getting crucified on the cross.
Taltal Festival in Guimaras
Also known as “Ang Pagtaltal sa Guimaras”, the Taltal Festival is observed every Good Friday when pilgrims trek to the summit of Bulaan Bukid while following the Stations of the Cross. After, pilgrims head to the town of Jordan to reenact the death of Christ and his removal from the cross.
Processions in Paete, Laguna
The town of Paete is known for its skilled artisans and woodcarvings, as well as baroque churches where tourists flock to for their Visita Iglesia. This includes the Church of Paete or Saint James the Apostle Parish Church. When you visit on Holy Wednesday, you’ll witness the town’s 53 Holy Week images paraded around town – a procession leading to the Church.
Sayaw ng Saboy in Las Piñas
Every year, girls in Las Piñas dress in all white to perform the Sayaw ng Saboy, which is a part of the “Salubong” celebrated on Eastern Sunday. Children dance and throw confetti and petals around the streets during the procession, which concludes at the Diocesan Shrine and Parish of St. Joseph (Bamboo Organ).
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