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Holy Week in the Philippines

Here in the Philippines Holy Week is a huge celebration. Yesterday we Palm Sunday,then Thursday is Holy Thursday which is the start of the main few days leading to Easter Sunday. Many businesses and government offices close.

Friday is Good Friday and the whole city and probably the country closes down. Last year a friend drove me around Davao City to show me main streets, shortcuts and places I had heard of but did not know where they were. The streets were deserted. Few cars, pedestrians and even hardly a jeepney.

Well, here we are again. But for me this year is different. Elena and our nieces who live with us are going to the Provinces to spent the holiday with her family in Bislig.

In America, I lived alone for many years. I cooked and cleaned my home by myself. Since living here, Elena and the girls do everything in the house. Now I need to take care of me myself.

There are many restaurants I can go eat my meals but on Friday there is nothing open. I guess I will cook and just sit home and work on the Internet. Good thing that does not close.

20 Responses to “Holy Week in the Philippines”

  1. don m. says:

    As a grocery cashier I am busy this time of year. It is also pasover for jews. Ham is the big easter food here as I’m sure you know. Why are you not going to vist the family in the out provience? When I vist leyte i’ve gone to Samar to visit the rest of the family. I’ve only been to Samar once but it was filled with a lot of memerios. I don’t care for sleeping on mats as it killed my back–ouch.

    • Bruce says:

      Don,
      Even though 2 different sentences, it is funny seeing Jews and ham next to each other. I do miss the American Easter meal with a ham and all the extras, I also miss the Passover sader with the matza and traditional foods except gefilta fish, YUCK.
      Elena is afraid for me to travel to Bislig. A few years ago she was on a bus returning to Bislig and it was stopped and everyone robbed. Also there has been reports of NPA problems. Also her brother she is visiting has a small home and she thinks I will not be comfortable. Maybe she wants to get away from me for a few days (joke).

      • Nene says:

        hi, Bruce, may i know where in Bislig your wife is from? you see am also from the same area and just wondering that maybe your wife’s family and mine may know each other.

        • Bruce says:

          Nene,
          Elena is from Mangagoy and her family name is Libres. It would be funny if you were good friends or even relatives.

          • Nene says:

            Indeed, hahaha! so, Bruce have you been there,even just once? am planning to take my husband (he’s American btw)there and show him the place where i spent a good part of my teen years..we still go home to Bislig as like Elena, family members still live there. My mom was a teacher in Mangagoy Elem.School until her retirement.Now she divides her time between New Jersey and Bislig, as we still have our “family/ancestral” home there.One sister of mine is currently teaching in John Bosco College in Mangagoy, am pretty sure your wife knows the school.
            I hope you’ll visit the place soon, Bruce and see Tinuy-an Falls which is quite popular as a tourist spot. Also taste our local sea food,very fresh and oh sooo yummy.

  2. Mindanao Bob says:

    Hi Bruce – Actually, the Internet might close for Holy Week too! You see, I have seen years when there was a technical problem sometime during the week. If that happens, there is nobody to fix it, and there will be no Internet until next week! It can happen! We’ll just keep our fingers crossed.

    • Bruce says:

      Bob,
      I had not thought of that, companies do not keep a holiday staff to help their clients, just shut down.

  3. Security is so hard to get the facts about in the Philippines. I believe that if I would have listened to all advice about “don’t go there and there”, I wouldn’t have seen much of Mindanao by now. Or even the rest of the Philippines. I dont mean to be rude or something when I say this. The locals are so nice that they always seem to be overprotective. I cant blame them for that, I would never. Of course if i had a pinay wife telling me like that, I would listen.
    When I went to Gumasa beach on the last trip, it was really a funny thing that happened. I travelled all the way down there by minibus from Gensan, and walked the last few hundred metres by down to the beach. On the beach I started to talk to a filipino couple which turned out to be the owners of a resort. As there was no restaurants (all places to stay are for families with own brought food) I asked them if it was possible that they could cook a meal for me for a fee. I got a nice chicken meal and we kept on conversating. After eating I decided to go back to Gensan, a bit disappointed that there was only 5-10 000 peso rooms meant for families. But I was prepared to go back and make this a day trip. As I was leaving the resort property, the couple told me to wait, they wanted to get the guard to follow me back up to the main road, cause it was too dangerous to walk those few hundred metres alone. At these situations one is really thinking: Am I too naive or what? The level of how dangerous it is, is really confusing. Again so lovely people to meet.
    I am sure if I would ask advice from Mindanaoan about going to Manila, he would say: “Don’t even go there, it is really dangerous”.
    Still, I understand the dangers of some parts of Mindanao and of course also big cities.

    • twopenneth says:

      HI sTEFAN, I came across your blog through AmericaninDavao and too bad its in swedish because i really love the pictures in palawan. its my favourite place as well. Anyway, regarding Holy Week in the Philippines, Bruce you should go to Pampanga where they crucify people with real nails and Marinduque who has a very colorful celebration.

      • Bruce says:

        Twopenneth,
        I showed photos I found online on an article a year ago about the crucifixion in Pampanga. There is more fanaticism and strange customs here with the Catholics than I think any where else.

      • Charles says:

        There are lots of beautiful spot in Bohol aside from its well known chcotlaoe hills and tarsiers. Boholanos are lovely and polite a wonderful destination to live and pursue your dreams.VA:F [1.9.14_1148]please wait…VA:F [1.9.14_1148](from 0 votes)

    • Bruce says:

      Stefan,
      Your story shows both how naive foreigners can be, but also the hospitality and caring of Filipinos. I take Elena’s advice where danger is concerned. Also she realizes what comforts I need and how little I will accept.

  4. twopenneth, since Bruce told me to put a translator on my blog you can translate it to English!! Or filipino 🙂 There is a dropdown in the upper right side of the blog.

    • Bruce says:

      Stefan,
      Sorry I forgot to mention that in my reply.
      I am still looking for you to start a blog of your thoughts and live, not just your travels.

  5. AdB says:

    Re: Strange Catholic customs

    Agree! Some of these Holy Week customs are not only strange, they are also absurd in the extreme.

    I am a Catholic and I’m offended by these so-called Catholic Holy Week customs.

    The trouble is that the clerics in the Philippines encourage these oddities but I frankly don’t understand why. I suppose by allowing their followers these superstitious exercises in the name of Christ is one way to keep their followers under control.

    • Bruce says:

      AdB.
      The control the Church has over the country is strong but just as everything else in a country, how can we change the mindset of its people. The control started with the Spanish and then the Chinese and the Japanese. America probably did not help either. As I have said in many articles, I cannot change what I do not like, so why stress out and just accept it.

  6. AdB says:

    And by extension, ensuring their power over a credulous nation.

  7. mike says:

    its cool to hear familiar names from mongagoy. my fiance is a student at John Boscoe. LPN. I was there in October. Its a very nice area. She lives in Mongawan i hope i spelled that right. Has anyone heard about the tricikad situation there in mongagoy? Color coded days?

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