Monday, April 02, 2007


When I was a kid, at the start of Holy Week, every radio and TV station would be completely signed off until Easter Sunday, except for one or two stations that broadcast religious programs, but only at certain hours. All movie theaters and entertainment establishments were closed as well.

With going to church in the late afternoon or early evening as the only acceptable activity, the entire city seemed as if in a collective solemn mourning.

Over in our barrio in Subic, it was pretty much the same deal, except on Thursday and Friday when the bartikals and penitensiyas would march barefoot on the sweltering pavement. Both sides of the highway were usually crowded with Americans from the nearby naval base busily taking photographs, or simply watching the entire spectacle as if in awe.

On Good Friday, there were some men carrying giant crosses on their shoulders as they headed towards the hills of the next town. There they would have their hands and feet tied to the cross, not nailed as done in the other provinces. By the late afternoon, it would be over.

Saturday is Sabado de Gloria. At exactly ten o’clock in the morning, the children were often urged to jump as high as they could. The belief was they would grow to be tall adults if they did just that that.

As for Easter Sunday, there wasn't any organized egg-hunting festival back then. There was only an early morning procession in which its highlight was hoisting a child of barely six years of age all the way to the top of a makeshift four-storey tower. It was basically made up of tall bamboo poles tied together like a tripod. Right in the center, a pulley was attached to facilitate the pulling of the rope with the child’s seat at the other end of it.

Almost always, though properly secured in his seat, the child would appear petrified to death; screaming his lungs out as being pulled to the top. However, I’ve always wanted to be an Easter Sunday angel and made no secret of it. I delighted in the thought of being hoisted up in the sky. Unfortunately, my father would never allow it. I gave up all hope when I turned ten. I've become too big.

Right after the Easter Sunday breakfast, all the children were once again allowed to engage in their usual boisterous play, while the teens went back to playing their vinyl 45 rpm rock ‘n roll records. During that time, Easter Sunday ushered in the much awaited fun-filled summer vacation; a perfect reward for having given up so much during the Holy Week.

Nowadays, this time of the year is more often deemed a holiday season in which some families would retreat to a fine resort or travel abroad for a shopping spree. Totally unheard of then and a good enough cause to be excommunicated, I bet.

Oh, well ... times have changed, indeed.



posted by Señor Enrique at 9:57 PM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the urban madness we have all-year round, the solemnity of Lent would surely allow us a good respite.

BTW, congratulations to you for winning the Best Photoblof in the recently held Philippine Blog Award---I almost knew it before it came cause you really deserve it bro; more power to you...

April 03, 2007 1:02 AM  

Blogger -= dave =- said...

It's the evils of work life, when the Holy Week is the only time of the year the working class can have a long vacation. When I was still a student, with more than two months of summer vacation, I could still afford to practice Holy Week the way the elders do. It helped that I was in the province where the sense of tradition is strong.

May the Lord be with you, Señor E.

April 03, 2007 1:07 AM  

Blogger tet said...

nice photo eric, miss ko ang holy week sa pinas!

btw, congratulations to u for winning the best photoblog at PBA! u deserve it man!

April 03, 2007 2:51 AM  

Blogger carlotta1924 said...

this is the first time i've heard of an easter sunday angel. is there a significance? why didn't your father allow you? i imagine you'd be the only kid who would smile and wave at the onlookers while being hoisted up should you have been an angel lol. =)

April 03, 2007 7:18 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Things have truly changed. In fact even when I was in Manila, I couldn't understand why people trekked to Baguio on the holy week. I always thought it was avoidance of the lenten week.

Good Friday is a statutory holiday here in Canada as well. In fact Easter Monday is a holiday for govt employees. The focus of the celebration of the lenten week seems to be more on Easter though, which on a theological level seems to have greater relevance, ressurection being a central theme in the Christian faith.

April 03, 2007 10:05 AM  

Blogger tonyo57 said...

We have same way in Isabela when growing up. Culmination of early morning procession of Jesus and Mary, meeting under this make shift tower the angel is hoisted down to take away Mary's black robe for Jesus has risen from death. Kids are excited who will be chosen to be the main angel since about a dozen will also be singing on the sides. Senor, you have a way of bringing up the past which gives us a moment of bliss and feel good about it and I thank you for that. Keep up the good work.

April 03, 2007 10:15 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's also my first time to know about this Easter Sunday angel.

So you dreamed of being the angel, Eric. Me, I had this unfulfilled dream of being a flower girl.. hehehe.. I was never a flower girl before! And how I envied those girls who would march down the aisle clutching baskets of flowers or holding the bride's train.. or those who marched with Reyna Elenas during Mayflower festival.. sigh! I could only dream... lol!

April 03, 2007 11:00 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice Photos Senor Enrique =)

I really love photos and stuff and I want to take photography as a hobby... can you give me an advice or so on where should I start? like which Cameras are good for or even tips on photography...

Hope you could enlighten me on this matter... more power to your blog and congratulation on winning the Photoblog of the Year in the P.B.A 2007 :)

April 03, 2007 2:45 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank you Kyels, May you have a blessed Holy Week also.

That's right, Major Tom. A nice break from the stress of daily living. We might as well take advantage of the stillness, though brief.

I am most appreciative of your constant support, Major Tom. I thank you very much!

You're right, Dave. It's the curse of modern times -- the grueling feat of juggling work and family life. I can understand why some families would consider the Holy week as a chance to be together and spend quality time.

Yes, elderly relatives in the provinces seem to provide a stronger grip on traditions as opposed to urban dwellers.

April 03, 2007 6:28 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Many thanks, Tet :)

I notice that mostly older balikbayan folks come home during the Holy Week. The younger ones would come home on other times like the Christmas Holiday when it's more festive.

Hi Carla! Yes, they existed; don't know about now, though. It's supposed to signify resurrection.

As for my father's opposition to my becoming an Easter Sunday angel, either 1) he didn't want me to take away the opportunity from a barrio kid, or 2) he didn't trust that bamboo tower that looked like an unstable scaffolding.

And yes, I would have treated the whole thing much like a ride in one of those theme parks ... hehehe.

Hey, have a safe and wonderful trip!

In the New York, BW, Good Friday is merely an optional personal or religious holiday. It's regarded as a typical work day. The solemnity of the lenten season is hardly felt; Easter Sunday is one big party day.

April 03, 2007 6:38 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I think if they had only chosen older children, the whole experience might have been more welcome, though there were some eager volunteers, I must admit.

I'm glad that my childhood memoirs evoke some fond memories, Tonyo. Thank you!

Yes, Rhoda, I wanted to be hoisted up there and have a time of my life ... hehehe. But my father would hear none of it :(

And I had more than enough share of being a ring bearer, which I began to detest at some point. You should have told your mom and aunts about your desire to be a flower girl. I'm sure they could have done something.

Hi Jheng!

Give me a couple of days and I'll prepare a sort of guide and post it -- for those like you who want to get into photography, ok?

Thank you!

April 03, 2007 6:44 PM  

Blogger sheilamarie said...

hola Eric, congratulations on being chosen as best photoblog of the year =D galeng!

what u said is true, that the way holyweek is observed is different now. even my friends are emailing each other back and forth, choosing which resort to go to this holyweek.

A cousin ones brought us to a place where the men had their backs whipped as part of their yearly "penitensya". Though I can't remember where.

April 03, 2007 11:22 PM  

Blogger Francesca said...

We Jehovahs witnesses already celebrate the memorial day of Jesus Christ death last April 2.
Based on a jewish calendar Nissan 14 and can be found in the Bible.
Ganun lang, one hour mass, okey na. Solemn mass, wala nga mga palaspas.
April 9 is legal holiday. Stay at home ang Lola, pahinga!
musta from France senor enrique

April 04, 2007 5:12 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks Sheilamarie!

I guess, like what Dave said, the lenten season is but another respite from work so, I can't blame those who crave for a few days of rest and relaxation.

Self-flagellation is still a freaky issue for me, though it has been common practice amongst the serious Christians since God knows when. I just don't like pain whether self-inflicted or done to me by another.

April 04, 2007 7:13 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Francesca! Buti ka pa at tapos na ang mga religious obligations mo, pahinga na lang.

BTW, I don't remember ever reading you having any grandkids. Your children are barely out of their teens pa nga, di ba? Why call yourself a lola? Hehehe.

April 04, 2007 7:20 AM  

Blogger Jheng said...

Thanks alot Senor Enrique ;) we will be waiting for your tips :D

April 04, 2007 9:54 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I always thought that the angel at the "Salubong" is always a girl. :)

April 04, 2007 11:17 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

You're welcome, Jheng. I'll include the URLS of some online tutorials as well.

They used boys as angels also in my barrio, Irene. :)

April 04, 2007 6:26 PM  

Blogger vina said...

yes, i remember those days too. i would listen to radio dramas since there were no shows on tv.

April 04, 2007 8:05 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

And there seemed to be a sense of foreboding doom that enveloped the entire city at that time, right, Vina? It was so eerily quiet for me.

April 04, 2007 9:29 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

di pala pumasok yung comment ko :(
sabi ko sana sa susunod na lakad nyo sama na ko... kahit dyulalay lang :)tagahawak ng camera nyo kapag pagod na kayo.. at pwede ring taga masahe ng likod kapag pagod na pagod na kayo lol!!

April 07, 2007 1:21 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Just let me know when you've arrived back in Manila, Melai, so I can let you next time we have an photo shoot outing -- that is, for you to shoot with us and not to carry our gear or masage our aching backs ... hehehe.

April 07, 2007 6:25 AM  

Anonymous Lester G Cavestany said...

nice post. i think some traditions are worth keeping. holy week for me when i was younger was a time for reflection. all the channels would be showing the different version of the passion of Christ. my favorite one is the one which doesn't show jesus' face.

November 10, 2009 3:53 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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