It’s Holy Week here in the Philippines. Well, I suppose it is Holy Week everywhere in the world, actually, or at least every country that is Christian. Most countries don’t really celebrate the whole week, though, most countries celebrate Easter, but not Maundy Thursday, Holy Friday, Black Saturday, etc. Because I was raised Catholic, I knew what Holly Friday was, but had never heard of the other days before moving to the Philippines.
When we first moved to the Philippines in May of 2000, Holy Week had already passed for that year. For those who don’t know, Holy Week is the week before Easter. Holy Week starts with Palm Sunday, and runs through Black Saturday. The big days here in the Philippines are Thursday (Maundy Thursday), Friday (Holy Friday) and Saturday (Black Saturday). As I said, the first year we were living here, Holy Week had already passed before our arrival. In 2001, though, we were really in for an awakening.
People talked a lot about Holy Week and such as the week began, and earlier even. But, we had no idea what was in store. When Wednesday came along, everything was shut down. I mean, all of the stores were closed. All of the TV stations went off the air, except for one, and it played only religious programming for about 5 days. I mean, if you needed to buy food to cook for your family’s dinner, you better have done it early in the week, because no stores were open at all.
Even though Feyma grew up here in the Philippines, she had forgotten how it was during Holy Week, due to her long stay in the USA, and how different things are there from the Philippines. We really had an awakening that first Holy Week that we were in the Philippines.
We have now lived in the Philippines for 12 years, and so much has changed. In regards to Holy Week, it is like we are in a different country now. Many stores are open. Here in Davao, usually, at least one of the malls is open at least a half day every day of Holy Week now. They seem to alternate. Maybe on Thursday SM will be open, then on Friday NCCC or Abreeza will open. You just have to check the schedules which are usually posted in the malls. But, it’s not like it was a dozen years ago when absolutely nothing was open during Holy Week.
What about TV? Oh, now most all of the TV stations broadcast a regular schedule. Some of the Filipino stations go with a religious broadcast schedule, but not all. As far as I know, none of the stations go off the air now like they did back then. It’s totally different now than it was before.
What about the Filipino people? In the past, they would stay home and reflect on religion and such. Some Filipinos have told me that when they were kids their parents would not allow them to even talk or play during Holy Week. They could not cut their fingernails during Holy Week. I’m not sure why, but I have been told this by many Filipinos. Things are way different now. What do most Filipinos do now during Holy Week? Oh, they still do religious things. They visit Churches and such. But, the very popular thing to do now during Holy Week is more like going on vacation, spending time at the beach, partying and such. Ten or 20 years ago, those kinds of activities were certainly not done during Holy Week.
Things sure have changed.
In many ways, the change is to my liking. Holy Week was a huge inconvenience to me before. I mean, I personally am a Christian, and I feel like I was thoughtful about the things that happened, religion-wise, during this time, but I felt it was a bit overboard. I don’t mean that disrespectfully in any way. I guess I was just more accustomed to how things were in the States, and it was so different from what I encountered here when we first came here. Now, though, I wonder if Filipino Culture is changing too much, too quickly, etc. In some ways I am sad to see it change. I guess I have mixed emotions. Maybe it’s just that it has changed so fast, and in some areas I feel it has changed too much.
It’s hard to find a pleasant medium, I suppose.
Happy Easter, everybody!