Visiting the Philippines for Holy Week? As with most contrasts in culture, there are quite a few differences when it comes to holidays and celebrations. Filipinos mix their religious beliefs with the local culture, creating something uniquely theirs during this solemn event.
If you aren’t a native of the Philippines, here’s what to expect during the Holy Week:
Expect a Long Holiday
The Philippine government considers Holy Week to be a very important holiday as a large percentage of the Philippine people are Catholics. As such, a couple of days within the said week, spanning from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday, are designated as non-working holidays.
You’ll notice that a lot of church areas will be crowded during Holy Week, especially on the last two weekdays. That’s because Filipinos often celebrate this weeklong ceremony with multiple visits to the house of God.
Aside from multiple trips to the church, people also join long religious processions, sometimes with carts and floats in tow with the images of Jesus Christ in various moments of his pre-crucifixion.
Closing Commercial Establishments
From high-end malls to favorite local restaurants, most shops will be closing for the holiday so do your shopping in advance. In the Philippines, a huge portion of the country will be observing Holy Week masses, including shopkeepers, store owners and their employees.
This is to be expected due to a large number of people returning to their respective provinces while establishments are closed for the holiday. You may find it a bit difficult to navigate the busy streets, so it is advisable to leave earlier to avoid the church rush (especially from Maundy Thursday onward).
So, if you’re visiting the Philippines for or during this holy celebration, keep these simple facts in mind and you’ll be able to enjoy your visit.
(Article from Inquirer.net http://usa.inquirer.net/2420/travelers-guide-philippines-holy-week)