Holy Week in Manila: An Overview of Rites and Rituals

The Philippines is largely a Catholic nation, and during the month of March or April, most Filipinos observe Holy Week, a tradition that depicts Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection. During this time for reflection and penance, Filipino Catholics observe these rites and rituals:

1. Palm Sunday

This particular Sunday marks the start of the Holy Week. Commemorating Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem before his crucifixion, the faithful carry palm fronds or palaspas to church, to be blessed by the priest. These palm fronds will be taken home to be hung on doors and windows; it is believed that doing so will ward off evil spirits.

Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday, as observed in the Philippines. Photo by Ramon FVelasquez (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
2. Pabasa

This is the chanting of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. Pabasa is traditionally done after the Palm Sunday mass, but can also be scheduled on other days of the Holy Week. Because it usually ends on Good Friday, pabasa is followed by the reading of the Seven Last Words or Siete Palabras.

3. Washing of the Feet

During mass on Holy Thursday, one can witness the re-enactment of the Last Supper. The priest will wash the feet of 12 parishioners, just as Jesus washed the feet of the 12 apostles.

4. Visita Iglesia

Catholics hold a tradition of visiting a number of churches on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday. Most usually visit 7, while others go to up to 14 churches while reciting the 14 Stations of the Cross. Some of the popular ones to visit in Manila are San Agustin Church, Manila Cathedral, Malate Church, and Quiapo Church.

Malate Church
Our Lady of Remedies Parish Church, also known as Malate Church. Photo by Muhranoff (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
5. Senakulo

This is a dramatization of Jesus’ Passion on the Cross. Senakulo is organized and performed on the streets. In some provinces in the Philippines, devout Catholics live out Christ’s suffering as they carry their own cross and are crucified in public.

6. Easter Vigil and Salubong

At around 10 PM of Black Saturday, the priest starts the Easter vigil with the blessing of fire, lighting of the Easter candle, reading of Bible passages, and renewal of baptismal vows. Salubong will follow after the mass. Two processions begin, with the statues of Jesus and Mary starting at opposite ends and meeting in the middle. The lifting of Mary’s veil marks the end of the Holy Week.

In Manila during the 2016 Holy Week?

You can observe these rites and rituals while at BEST WESTERN Hotel La Corona Manila. It is currently offering a Holy Week Special that lets you stay at the hotel’s Superior Room for only PHP 2,600 a night. Free early check-in (subject to availability) and Wi-Fi Internet access is included in the deal. The Holy Week Special is valid from March 24 to 28, 2016.

BEST WESTERN Hotel La Corona Manila
BEST WESTERN Hotel La Corona Manila, a boutique accommodation located at the heart of the Philippine capital

Those booking days or weeks in advance can take advantage of the Book Early, Save Big promo of this hotel in Ermita. Get 25% off room rates when booking 14 days prior to your check-in date, 27% off when booking 30 days in advance, or 30% off when reserving 60 days in advance. Buffet breakfast and Wi-Fi Internet access already included.

BEST WESTERN Hotel La Corona Manila is located in 1166 MH del Pilar corner Arquiza Streets, Ermita, Manila, Philippines. Book direct via http://www.bestwesternhotelmanila.com/.