The “Semana Santa” or Holy Week is one of the Philippines’ most significant traditions as a Catholic nation in Southeast Asia. Embedded in the Filipino culture, Catholicism and its ideas continue to be part of many Filipinos’ customs.
Two years have passed since the country faced a global pandemic. Government restrictions are imposed from time to time, and returning to the “Old Normal” may seem impossible at this moment. Indeed, many of us long for the usual norms of celebrating holidays and traditions before the Covid-19 hit. With that, we took the chance to interview some of our employees and encouraged them to share their family customs, fondest memories, and how they observed the Holy week before the pandemic.
Fasting and Abstinence: Some shared that during the Holy Week, they see to it that they allot time for solemn silence and limit listening to loud music. Some take light meals and eat rice cakes or “kakanin” that their parents prepared while some changed their meaty meals to “veggie and fish only” diet.
Church Activities: Several employees devoted themselves to Holy week activities such as participating in the “Palaspas” or Palm Sunday, listening to the Seven Last Words of God, and attending the “Prusisyon” or Procession of Saints. Some also participated in other church activities including teaching bible stories and facilitating events for the youth within their community.
Bonding with Family or Friends: Most EGP employees either took the chance to go on a trip to nearby resorts or beaches or spent the weekend with their family or friends at home. Some who stayed at home enjoyed a meal together and watched special Holy Week shows on the Television. Some cherished their long weekend through “Visita Iglesia” and visited various churches together with their loved ones. In light of the current pandemic, some employees who weren’t able to go home to their provinces also decided to celebrate the holiday at their apartments for their safety.
Online Celebration: Some shared that they’ve adapted to the current situation and celebrated their Holy week online or virtually. They attended live mass celebrations shown on the Television, and some had their family service via video call. A few managed to do parish volunteer works by teaching children online and dubbing bible stories.
The Holy Week is one of the most vital celebrations in the Catholic church. It is the time where its members relive, reenact, and participate in the passion of Jesus Christ. With the current situation, Filipinos shifted to celebrating online and staying at home. Despite how we observe these events, what matters is that they were able to strengthen their faith in God.
Catholic or not, regardless of our religious faith, we are one in praying that this “pandemic” will soon come to an end and we once again can celebrate holidays and feast just the way we normally do.