March 24, 2018

Holy Week Traditions Filipinos Observe

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  • One of the most important seasons is the Holy Week for many religious Filipinos. It is composed of Palm Sunday, Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, Holy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Black Saturday, and Easter Sunday. In the Philippines, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are regular national holidays.

    Many of our devout countrymen will follow certain traditions this Holy Week. Here are some of them:


    IMAGE grabbed from

    Done during several nights on Holy Week is senakulo, or Passion Play, a stage or street play about the life of Jesus leading to his death. The play takes place in many communities and is usually organized by local governments with sponsors and volunteers. The bloodiest reenactment and the most popular is the senakulo in San Pedro Catud, San Fernando, Pampanga.

    Siete Palabras

    IMAGE grabbed from YouTube

    The annual siete palabras or the reading of Jesus Christ’s seven last words is a tradition followed during a mass or in dialogues over the radio or television. It is seen by many as a way to reflect on his last brief sayings during the Holy Week. They have been widely used in sermons on Good Friday since the 16th century.


    Penance or penitensya is the Filipino practice of self-discipline that is often considered a spiritual act. It’s usually depicted as something that’s severe and done in public. Men and women seeking forgiveness would use leather straps to hit themselves at the back, carry a cross through seven churches, or lie down in a scorching concrete pavement. Some would go further and get crucified on a cross.



    Done before dawn, the salubong (welcome) is a ritual celebration of the Risen Christ. Young women including the tenyeta and the kapitana lead a procession of two statues, Mary in a black veil and the Risen Christ, towards the church. Eventually, they reach the stage usually in front of a church where a mechanism carrying a young girl dressed in white. She is lowered down to take off the black veil in Mary’s statue depicting the Resurrection and the end of Mary’s sorrow.

    Also read: Holy Week Tradition in the Philippines


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