The Holy Week (Mahal na Araw) and “Alay Lakad” Pilgrims Day!
Holy Week, also known as “Mahal na Araw“, “Semana Santa” and “Cuaresma“, is an annual religious festival in the Philippines. During this holiday, most TV Stations air religious shows, and many of the radio some stations close down.
Since it’s a public Holiday in the Philippines, which means there is no work except for private companies, people take this time as an advantage to go and visit their family, relatives or friends in their provinces. As for me, sometimes I questioned this holiday to myself, “Holy Week, why is it holy? when everyone wants to go on vacation or swimming”. I truly understand these desires by people, but I really hope that they still know what we are celebrating during this event – “Mahal na Araw”.
When I was young, I thought holy week was a week of vacation to visit my relatives in Pampanga. But then later, I realized it was about the Passion of Christ until the day he resurrected.
Palm Sunday “Linggo ng Palaspas”
Palm Sunday marks the start of Holy Week, even though the date keeps changing every year. It is the time to reminisce about when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem. Filipinos are celebrating this by carrying decorative Palm Fronds.
After they celebrate mass, the “Palaspas” are normally hung on doors or windows. As for me, I put mine on our Door 🙂 My mom told me that Palaspas wards off the evil spirits. Some people make fun of it, like “how about warding off bad humans?” XD
Holy Monday – Wednesday (“Spy Wednesday”)
These days are the preparation and/or processions for the passion of Christ with daily Masses in the Churches. They also call this “Spy Wednesday” because it is also the time where Judas betrayed Jesus Christ for money.
One of the most popular places to witness a procession of the Passion of Christ is in the province of Pampanga.
Maundy (Washing of the Feet) Thursday “Huwebes Santo”
Commerates the Maundy or Washing of the Feet and the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles.
It is also known as the day of “Visita Iglesia” or “the Church Visit”, where Filipinos visit either one, seven or fourteen churches in total. Normally people visit seven churches to meditate in the way of the cross.
Some people don’t visit different churches, instead they join the Pilgrims “Alay-Lakad” where a church that they are visiting has 14 Stations of the Cross.
My first time to join the Pilgrims was when I was 13 years old, we started to walk in Caloocan, Monumento. The pilgrimage ended at Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto Shrine, in Bulacan.
The estimated time to go from Caloocan Monumento to Grotto Shrine is about 5-8 hours, depending on how many stop overs you have. My friends and I were able to arrive at the Grotto Church after about 6 hours with 2 stop overs. I wished I had a camera that time to show how many people are helping all over. While walking on the street, so many people offered free water, some even gave us bread. Back during that time the water was safe to drink compared to today, where I rarely see people accept the free water on the streets.
It’s very safe to walk but I still do not recommended people to bring important gadgets. You can’t predict what will happen. Once you reach the Church, you need to wait until someone leaves their spot. Normally, there is no place to sit down, as there are people everywhere. People stay and sleep until the sun rises the next day.
For more photos of Stations of the Cross/Holy Week in Grotto Shrine Bulacan, please visit this link: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.357472154294851.75555.126702857371783&type=1