Holy Week may be the best time to of the year to hop in the car, hit the road and yet keep the faith. As a predominantly Roman Catholic country, we have various traditions celebrating the passion and death of Jesus Christ spanning the 7,107 islands. As the country’s leading automotive website, we’ll limit this list only to places reachable within a day’s drive.
Visita Iglesia or Seven Churches Visitation
This is the age-old practice during Maundy Thursday of visiting seven churches, reciting two stations of the Way of the Cross in each and totaling fourteen stations at the seventh church. Common practice is to visit churches that you don’t frequently go to and are far apart from each other.
But if you’ve been extra sinful and require heavier penance, there is no hard-and-fast rule against saying only one Station of the Cross per church and visiting fourteen different churches in the process.
The most popular churches to visit in Metro Manila are:
San Agustin in Intramuros (a UNESCO-declared World Heritage Site)
Manila Cathedral in Intramuros
Minor Basilica of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo (also known as Binondo Church)
Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo (also known as Quiapo Church)
Basilica of San Sebatian in Claro M. Recto
Sta. Cruz Church in Plaza Sta. Cruz, Manila
Our Lady of Remedies Parish, Malate (also known as Malate Church)
If you want to add provincial churches to complete a list of fourteen, the provinces of Cavite, Batangas, Laguna and Pangasinan offer many that are as rich in faith as they are in history.
Flagellation for penance, Processions and Re-enactments
Baliuag, Bulacan’s annual ‘Prusisyon ng mga Santo’ (Procession of Saints) is pretty well known and has the reputation of being the ‘longest Lenten procession in the Philippines’. It happens every 6pm on Holy Wednesday and Good Friday. The 104 ‘floats’ that have signed up this year will all begin from the St. Augustine Parish Church of Baliuag.
If the sight of blood brought about by flagellation doesn’t make you queasy, visit San Pedro Cutud, San Fernando, Pampanga. There you’ll see repentant men bent on physically paying for their iniquities by literally reliving the Way of the Cross - from the flagellation, crowning of thorns and the crucifixion.
In provinces all around Luzon there are various Lenten re-enactments, processions and flagellations happening simultaneously and most are within a day’s drive. The farthest up north is ‘Semana Santa at Iguig Calvary Hills’ in Cagayan Valley and ‘Agoo Semana Santa’ in La Union while one can witness the ‘Cenakulo’ and other rituals are re-enacted in various places like Aurora, Zambales, Rizal, Bulacan and even Paranaque. If you fancy driving down south, Laguna and Batangas have several deeply rooted Holy Week traditions you can witness and join but if your destination is Camarines Sur, it would certainly be a great idea to see how they celebrate ‘Semana Santa sa Bicol’.
If you plan to head out of town, the different tollway operators in Luzon have prepared their own motorist assitance programs to make your journeys safer and more convenient.
NLEX, CAVITEX and SCTEX have released a guide to their Holy Week assistance programs that we reported here or you can check www.tollways.net.ph, download NLigtas on Android for more details or follow @nlextraffic, @CaviteXpressway.
The SLEX, Star Tollway and TPLEX Holy Week guide is here but if you want to get in touch with them, call the hotlines of Skyway at 776-7777; MaTES at 0917-687(OUR)-7539(SLEX), and Star at 0927-511(STAR)7827.
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