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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Easter in the Philippines


This post is part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs Easter Around the World Blog Series. Please check out the other posts in the series to learn about different Easter celebrations around the world!


While doing research I found several places stating the most interesting Asian Easter celebrations are in the Philippines, so I decided to do some research on it. As you probably know, the Philippines is a sovereign nation in Southeast Asia that consists of over 7,000 islands. (For more information about the country you can see my post here.)




Holy Week and Easter are serious business in the Philippines. Many businesses and some radio and television stations close starting on Maundy Thursday until Black Saturday. Others shorten their hours by opening later and closing earlier. As in all Christian churches, Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday. On Palm Sunday palm fronds are brought to church to be blessed by the priest and then are often hung on the doors or windows at home to ward off demons and avert lightning. 
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Palm Sunday at St. James the Apostle Parish Church, Plaridel, Bulacan
 By Ramon FVelasquez (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
In some regions of the Philippines on Holy Wednesday there are processions of the Passion of Christ. Maundy Thursday is the beginning of the Triduum. Most Filipinos begin the day with the Chrism Mass. During this mass some of the anointing oils are blessed after the homily. Throughout the day some Filipinos visit at least seven churches to meditate on the Way of the Cross. The main part of the day is the last mass before Easter which is often called the Mass of the Institution of the Lord's Supper. This often includes a re-enactment of the washing of the feet of the Apostles followed by a procession of the Blessed Sacrament before it is placed in the Altar of Repose. 
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Mass of the Lord's Supper and Chrysm Mass and Washing of Feet Foot washing by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle in Manila Cathedral Photo By Judgefloro (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Good Friday is a public holiday and brings solemn processions. In some provinces the processions include some who self-flagellate and even sometimes ones who have themselves nailed to a cross. These are in expressions of penance, fulfillment of a vow or thanksgiving for a prayer granted. The highlight of Good Friday is usually the Santo Entierro which is the wooden or resin of the dead Christ lying in supine. It is brought around the town usually followed by statues or pictures of various saints having to do with the Easter story. Tradition is that the Virgin Mary is the last one to be brought around.
Crucifixion in San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines, easter 2006, p-ad20060414-12h54m52s-r
Crucifixion in San Fernando, Pampanga By Baptiste Marcel (Own work) 
[GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Black Saturday or Holy Saturday continues the solemn and silence of Good Friday. Some parishes hang a dummy as Judas Iscariot (the disciple who betrayed Jesus) and will burn it or light it with firecrackers. 

Easter morning brings a joyous celebration. At dawn there is a ceremony called Salubong that re-enacts the meeting of the resurrected Jesus and his mother. The statue of Mary is usually dressed in black with a black veil to show her bereavement. Often in the processions the women and girls follow the Mary statue and the men and boys follow the Jesus statue and meet at a designated area. Often there is a girl dressed as an angel who sings and removes Mary's veil. Mary is then called Nuestra SeƱora de Alegria or our Lady of Joy and flower petal confetti are showered on the statues. This is also marked by the bells and fireworks and is followed by the Easter mass. In some parishes this occurs at midnight following the Easter Vigil. 
Morions
Moriones By Emmanuel Sace (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
On the island of Marinduque there is another festival during Holy Week called Moriones Festival. Men and women dress in costume and masks to look like their interpretation of the Biblical Roman soldiers. The moriones represent the Roman soldiers who walked around town looking for Longinus. Longinus was a Roman soldier believed to have speared Jesus' side when He was on the cross. Longinus was blind in one eye. Supposedly when Jesus' blood fell into his eye he could see again. At that point he became a believer and told everyone about his miracle. Moriones roam the streets in town from Holy Monday to Easter Sunday. I thought making a Moriones mask would be a fun craft. Unfortunately Hazel did not have time yet to make one with me, but I quickly made one for this post. I used a paper plate and popsicle stick, but you could do a more elaborate one with paper mache, a store bought mask or tin foil and tape (see tutorial).


That is the interesting way that Christians in the Philippines celebrate Easter. 

Check out my Easter Around the World Series Round-up from last year and the other posts of the Blog Series this year. 

Sources: 

Mendoza, Lunita; Philippines:Festivals of the World Gareth Stevens Publishing: Milwaukee: 1999.
Wikipedia Holy Week in the Philippines and Moriones Festival