The small tropical island of Bantayan located in northern Cebu province in the Philippines sheds its laid back atmosphere like a snake as more than one hundred thousand people from around the world come to celebrate Holy Week… Which is celebrated from April 13 Maundy Thursday to April 16 Easter Sunday in the year 2017.
Filipinos from every province of the Philippines will trek here by private car, buses, motorcycles, and eventually make the ferry crossing from Hagnaya port to Santa Fe. Bantayan Island is approximately three hours by bus from Cebu plus one and half hour by ferry. From Santa Fe you can take motorized tricycle or jeepney to the town of Bantayan where the religious activities take place.
Most of the accomodations , restaurants and beaches are located in the town of Santa Fe and almost every square inch of its white powdery sand is covered with people who are here to enjoy the beach, good food and religious activities.
Semana Santa (Holy Week) is from Palm Sunday to Black Saturday, then Easter Sunday. It is traditionally a solemn occasion in the Philippines, a time for serious atonement.
Holy Week is when many people perform holy rites in fulfillment of a vow they made when they asked God a favor, such as a cure for an illness. Priests and religious statues are dressed in purple to symbolize gloom. Devout Catholics go to church everyday; some fast.
Palm Sunday commemorates the entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, Filipino Catholics bring (palm fronds) to church to be blessed by the priests. Then they bring the fronds back home with them.
For most of the week, especially after Tuesday, the towns are eerily quiet with TV and radio stations going off the air and no loud noises or revelry whatsoever. Catholics stop eating meat, turning to fish, and the more devout ones go on a completely liquid diet. Many businesses are closed, so make sure you have supplies, especially food, stocked up and make your hotel reservations well in advance as the hotel accommodations fill up fast.
The traditional “reading” or chanting of verses about the suffering of Christ starts on Sunday and ends on Maundy Thursday, which is the day when the washing of the feet is celebrated.
Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion and death of Christ. On this day, you will see religious figures being carried through the towns on top of carriages. The religious images and statues are veiled in black in mourning of the death of Jesus.
The most striking feature of Holy Week celebrations in the Philippines is the sight of Filipinos publicly whipping themselves. These are reenactments of the torture and death of Jesus. Some Filipinos not only whip their backs into a bloody mess, they also have their feet and hands nailed to a wooden cross. Tourists come from all over the world for the sight in the Manila area. Bantayan Island does not practice this reenactment, but has an impressive parade and reenactment of the Stations of the Cross in Bantayan Town.
Among Filipino superstitions on Good Friday is the prohibition against children playing. This is because they might injure themselves and not have their wounds heal. You will always be reminded that during this time when Jesus is dead, and so everything is awry and bad things are apt to happen.
Black Saturday is when Christ is entombed. Filipinos spend the day preparing for the night vigil leading up to Easter Sunday.
Easter Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection of Christ. At four o’clock in the morning, Filipinos do a ceremony commemorating how the Virgin Mary met her son Jesus who has come back to life. Her image will be brought to the image of the Christ at the local church. Flower petals will be rained down on them. Everyone is happy that Jesus is alive again and that the world is back right. On Easter day, grocery stores re-open and you can buy food.
In contemporary times, these Philippine traditions are slowly disappearing. Young Filipinos now use the Holy Week to vacation at the beach. Modified from Tagaloglang.com
So there you have it! If you want to celebrate and enjoy Holy Week you are only approximately five hours by bus and ferry from north terminal Cebu! Pack a big lunch, relax in the sun, go to the beach and swim or island hop, sky dive or have some quiet time to reflect about the real meaning of Holy Week!
QUOTE: Let this season of LENT remind us all that this life we have and the material possessions we hold are just being LENT to us. We’re all passersby. We’re not immigrants here. We’re all pilgrims on the road. We bring nothing when we die. But we can leave behind the love we’ve shared, the hope we have given and the goodness we’ve done. May we all have a meaningful HOLY WEEK. GOD BLESS.
THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: The real meaning of Easter…it’s not rocket science. It is a religious celebration of the resurrection of Christ.
THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: A collection of inspirational quotes.
ZENTRAVELER SAYS: Come to Bantayan Island and discover a hidden Paradise. Grasshopper has been lounging on the beach and has a wonderful golden tan to prove it. He also never misses going to Mass and says his prayers every night at bedtime. Who knows maybe Saint Grasshopper is in the cards?
From here to Infinity is a relatively short ride! The next leg takes eons and eons as you fly through the Barycentric Dynamical Time Zone! …and on and on and on. Follow the Zentraveler Blog often for Travel, Health and Zen-like stories and such. Where else can you get a three in one blog for the price of free?