What is Good Friday in the Philippines All About?
Among the things that remained embedded in the Philippines’ culture and tradition after the Spanish colonizers left the country is Christianity. The Spaniards showed the Filipinos processions and mass celebrations to encourage them to convert to said religion.
One of the central themes of this religious practice is Jesus Christ, who is recognized as the Messiah or Savior of humankind. During Holy Week in the Philippines or the Lent, Catholic devotees remember Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection.
One particular day, Good Friday in the Philippines is dedicated to commemorating the crucifixion and death of Christ. It is no surprise this day is symbolized by the cross, which is a reference to the fate of Jesus Christ.
This celebration is followed by Black Saturday when Christ was buried. On Easter Sunday, the Catholic devotees celebrate His resurrection.
Good Friday is considered a public holiday in the Philippines. Schools and most businesses are closed that day in observance of the holiday.
Things You Can Do During Good Friday in the Philippines
If you are a devoted Catholic member, here are some of the things you can do to celebrate Good Friday in the Philippines and to honour the life of Jesus.
Go to Church
Many Catholic devotees go to church services and participate in the Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ or the Station of the Cross. The former is about praying or offering a devotion to atone for the sins of others, such as blasphemies against Jesus Christ and His Holy Name. The latter, meanwhile, depicts the last hours of Jesus’ suffering before His death on the cross.
Church masses are also held before 3:00 P.M. to acknowledge the time Jesus Christ departed. Churchgoers take a moment of silence and solemnity when the clock strikes 3:00 P.M.
Repent Your Sins
Take this time to reflect on your life. How are you doing? Are you living your life in accordance with the words of Jesus Christ? Are you a role model for your fellow Christians?
Go to the Beach With Your Family
Because Good Friday in the Philippines is also a holiday, families usually take this time to visit the beach and beat the heat. Good Friday is also around summertime.
It can also be the time for families to bond given that there is no work nor school that day.
How Good Friday in the Philippines is Celebrated
During Good Friday in the Philippines, Filipino Catholics are practising staying away from worldly activities like drinking alcohol. Most of them are also avoiding eating meat—they are fasting and saying a prayer instead.
The Holy Week celebration also highlights “pabasa” or marathon chanting of the “Pasyon,” which is a Filipino epic narrative telling the story of passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is also a parade of religious figures across towns.
There are also processions where devotees are self-flagellating as an act of penance during Good Friday in the Philippines. These are famously held in the province of Pampanga, but also be done in several parts of the country.
The most controversial tradition, however, is the actual crucifixion of a devotee to express his or her faith. According to a report by CNN, Filipino Ruben Enaje, 58, was crucified for the 33rd time last year on Good Friday.
Enaje has been portraying the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ since the 1980s in front of fellow Filipinos and tourists as well in a village north of Manila.
Performing the realistic crucifixions, four-inch nails are nailed through the hands and feet of the devotees. The wooden cross is then lifted for around five minutes.
While this practice has become one of the most awaited events during Holy Week, the Catholic leaders and public health officials are condemning such practice.
Healthcare personnel are on standby during this event to aid those who collapse from heat and dehydration and to treat the wounds after.
According to devotees, their wounds usually take up to two weeks before they heal.
This practice originated from a play about Jesus written in the 1950s. This ultimately led to the first crucifixion in 1962.
Venues and Special Events for Celebrating Good Friday in the Philippines
Here are some of the places you can visit during Good Friday in the Philippines, as well as amid the Holy Week celebration. All the venues represent a very important culture, tradition, and religious practice to the Filipinos.
San Fernando, Pampanga
As mentioned earlier, tourists gather in San Fernando, Pampanga to watch the staging of Via Crucis or Way of the Cross. This depicts the suffering of Christ, which ultimately ends to devotees being crucified in real life as well. It is seen as the most extreme way of expressing faith to the beloved Savior.
Every year during Holy Week, Marinduque holds its Moriones Festival, which is one of the most colourful celebrations in the Philippines. It is a week-long festival remembering the life and painful death of Jesus Christ.
This festival highlights the reenactment of scenes from the Passion of Christ where actors wear costumes and intricate masks portraying Roman soldiers.
It also celebrates the half-blind Roman soldier Saint Longinus. It is believed that his vision was restored after Jesus’ blood smeared over his eye.
The Moriones Festival is one of the major tourist attractions in the country, given its roots to tradition and culture.
Many Catholic devotees visit Bulacan for their Visita Iglesia—a practice during Holy Week where people visit seven churches. Bulacan has some of the more notable historic churches such as the Church of Santiago Apostol, St. Monica Church, and Barasoain Church.
The Monastery of the Holy Eucharist is located in Cebu. It is a popular pilgrimage site because of the miracles believed to be brought by the Blessed Virgin Mary.
It is also noteworthy to know that Cebu is home to beautiful beaches with clear water and white sand.