Monday, March 17, 2008

Holy week in RP

Wowo hams it up in our simple hut in Marinduque

It's that time of the year again when the whole country grinds to a halt. Yesterday was Palm Sunday and we brought palaspas or palm leaves to mass to commemorate Jesus' entry into Jerusalem 2,000 years go. I remember one special Palm Sunday when Wowo made us all go to Marinduque for a short vacation. It was our first ferry ride from the port of Quezon to Marinduque's grey sand beaches. (When asked why the island was called Marinduque, Wowo said that a long time ago some dukes came to this island and they also happened to be marines, hence the name. My lolo told it funnier)

Anyway, I don't remember how long we were there but I do remember eating halo-halo on the street, finding a starfish on the beach and Palm Sunday mass where the choir sang a really cool version of "Siya ay si Hesus" way before Aegis did a rock cover of it. We all laughed when Wowo said he was awakened by Tito Dante's snoring one night. He said he thought it was a motorcycle.hahaha! Wowo was a snorer,too. I also remeber we all got bum stomachs on the way home to Lucena due to either some spoiled sardines or rice on our last day.

The Rodriguez cousins way back when

Holy Wednesday when I was much younger was spent at my tita's place in Pasay for the first procession/family reunion. My aunts would forbid us from playing because they said that if we got wounded on Holy Week, our wounds would never heal! Also, music and merrymaking were frowned upon as we were supposed to be mourning for Christ's suffering but good luck explaining that to kids. We thought our titas were just being mean. In those days before cable, you would really have no choice but to watch religious movies like "Jesus of Nazareth" and "Ben Hur" if you're lucky. Most of the day, tv stations were shut off or you'd see the usually inane afternoon TV hosts acting serious in made -for- TV tearjerkers.

San Agustin Church

Maundy Thursday is our day for visita iglesia. We would visit 7 churches around Manila and pray the station of the cross. (One Holy week spent in Lucena with Wowa, we went to 14 churches, I think--I didn't even know they had that many in Lucena!)Then we 'd eat egg pie at San Ildefonso church. It was only when I studied Art History that I learned to appreciate the old musty churches we went to. I love the neo-gothic and only all-steel church in Asia, San Sebastian and also the only Church that survived the bombing of Manila, the baroque San Agustin (where RP's Marimar and Sergio got hitched hahaha! I'm so baduy) Now I deplore efforts by parishes to modernize their churches with all that tacky gold trimming.

Good Friday is the most solemn day. Older folks fast or not eat solid food the whole day while kids had to eat fish(simple fare, not expensive lobster or prawns) as a sort of sacrifice. Some even refrain from bathing on the hottest day of the year! Note: we did not follow this custom. We did eat ginataang bilo-bilo. This was the day of the longer procession, when all the saints on ornately decorated caros were and paraded around Pasay surrounded by devotees praying and holding candles like a prayer army. Before reaching the church, the flowers on the caros are flung to the devotees who believe these have miraculous powers. A peculiar belief some people have is that Good Friday is a day when aswangs and evil spirits roam because "patay ang Dios" (literally, God is dead.) One particularly memorable movie had a mananggal attack a family on Good Friday and could only be hurt by a palaspas blessed on Palm Sunday. Some of my cousins also perform a panata, a sort of penitence, so that God would grant their wish. They would walk all the way from Pasay to Antipolo to pray to Nuestra Senora de Paz y Bienviaje.

Black Saturday used to be the day we would paint Easter eggs for my younger cousins. One of my titas liked my painting so much she was reluctant to break the shell. I might just do this again for fun!

Easter Sunday means the salubong where there's a vigil early in the morning to witness the meeting of Jesus and his mother after his resurrection. And suddenly, everything comes alive again... TV, Radio,malls... and meat is back on the menu! These days however, while Maundy Thursays and Good Fridays are still no-work days, some have used these as an excuse to go on vacation. The Makati party people actually reconverge on the over-commercialized island. And this is the best time to stay in the city when streets of Manila are blissfully traffic-free!

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