Where to go this Holy Week 2018?
Filipino Catholics already know the drill on how to spend Holy Week, specifically how to follow the religious observances of Lent. Though many establishments do not operate during Holy Week in Metro Manila, churches in Quiapo, Baclaran, and Intramuros are more than open for a solemn visit.
There are also various unique Lenten observances held all over the country. One tradition is Via Crucis, commonly known as The Stations of the Cross. The Way of Sorrow is another Holy Week tradition that many participate in. It is a mini-pilgrimage for devotees to commemorate and reflect on Christ’s agonizing journey to his crucifixion.
If you are looking for further exploration this coming Lenten Season, here are meaningful and spiritual travel destinations to pursue outside Manila.
1. Penitence in Pampanga
Pampanga is one of the top holy week destinations in the Philippines. Not only is Pampanga a mecca for sumptuous gastronomy, the place is also recognized for its thought-provoking observance during Holy Week.
In San Fernando city, travelers witness the re-enactment of the crucifixion as ‘penitensya’ or contrition. Peninentes walk barefoot around the streets whip their own backs bleeding until reaching the destination where they will be literally nailed to the cross.
2. Moriones Festival in Marinduque
Every Lenten season, the locals of the province dress up as Roman soldiers as the main act of the Moriones Festival. This tradition is rooted in the story of Longinus, a blind Roman centurion who pierced the side of Christ’s crucified body and had his eyesight restored through Christ’s gushed blood.
3. Visita Iglesia in Batangas
Aside from popular beach getaway destinations that are easily accessible to Manila, Batangas is also home to some beautiful churches.
The popular churches to visit are the National Shrine of St. Padre Pio, St. Thomas Aquinas Parish Church, St. John the Evangelist Cathedral, San Sebastian Cathedral, St. Isidore the Laborer Parish Church, Basilica of St. Martin de Tours and Our Lady of Caysasay Shrine.
4. Visita Iglesia in Tarlac
In Tarlac, tourists flock to popular churches like San Nicolas de Tolentino Capas Tarlac, St. Josemaria Gerona, St. Therese of the Child Jesus, and San Sebastian Cathedral.
Tarlac is also home to the famous Monasterio de Tarlac San Jose where a thirty-foot statue of Risen Christ stands.
5. Visita Iglesia in Iloilo
Although Iloilo is dubbed as the City of Love, the province is also a religious mecca. It is an enclave of centuries-old baroque churches and basilicas.
Travelers keen for architecture and religion will be in awe at the sight of the Jaro Cathedral, Molo Church, Miag-ao Church, Guimbal Church, San Joaquin Church, and St. Augustine Catholic Parish.
6. Holy Land Pilgrimage to Israel, Jordan, and Egypt
A pilgrimage exploring the important biblical places of the life of Jesus and is a remarkable way to celebrate the Lent. During the Holy Week, visitors can also participate in various religious activities.
Nazareth is the city where Jesus spent his childhood. Here, you can visit the Basilica of the Annunciation where the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary about bearing the Messiah. Another can’t-miss tourist attraction is Tabgha where Jesus performed the miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fishes.
Be awed by the sight of baptismal ceremonies at the Jordan River where St. John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Tread by the Palm Sunday Road heading to the Church of All Nations and the Garden of Gethsemane to see the Rock of Agony where Jesus prayed and taken away by Roman soldiers.
Another memorable activity is the Via Dolorosa to the Holy Sepulcher where Jesus was crucified. A trip to Bethlehem will take you to Grotto of the Nativity and the Manger Square. You may also take a cable car to Mountain of Temptation at Jericho.
Visit the lowest point on earth – the Dead Sea – and take a dip and experience floating and take advantage of the water’s healing properties. Trek to Mt. Sinai and be overwhelmed as it is the place where Ten Commandments were given to Moses. While you are there, you might also want to take a quick side trip and visit the Egyptian Museum, the Pyramids of Giza, and the Sphinx.
Sources: Skyscanner, Lamudi, Two Monkeys Travel Group, Choose Philippines, Travelog Philippines