Filipino Catholics follow different traditions during Holy Week to commemorate the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Two of the most popular traditions are the “pabasa” (chanting of the Lord’s passion)and “Visita Iglesia” (church visit).

The pabasa, which usually starts on Holy Monday, is the ritual reading of the “pasyon”, an epic poem in stanzas of five lines of eight syllables, each interwoven with a dramatic theme recounting the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

It is said to be a Christian adaptation of a pre-Hispanic Filipino custom of chanting epic poems.

Over the years, the use of the melody of modern songs in the singing of the “pabasa” has gained popularity among the Filipino youth.

While there are those who believe the traditional way of doing the “pabasa” is more meditative, some church leaders see nothing wrong with the young opting to use modern songs especially if this will encourage them to pray.

“If it will actually attract the young to participate in the ‘pabasa’ much better,” Father Jerome Secillano of the Nuestra Senora Del Perpetuo Socorro Parish said.

During Holy Thursday, churches are filled with pilgrims doing the “visita iglesia” and the Stations of the Cross.

And although it has become the practice of some to visit seven or 14 churches, Secillano said there is no required number of churches to visit for the Visita Iglesia.

“There is no required number seven or 14. What is important when you do the visita iglesia are your intentions, and that you pray and reflect. Those are essential,” he said.

There are also some practices being discouraged by the Catholic Church and these are self-flagellation and crucifixion.


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The crucifixions in Cutud, Pampanga every Good Friday even became a tourist attraction.

Some penitents subject themselves to such extreme forms of sacrifice due to a “panata” (vow) or to atone for one’s sin.

But Secillano said going to confession and reforming oneself would already suffice.

“If you want to be forgiven then be sorry for your sins. Make a good confession and reform your life,” he said.

The priest added: you actually dont need to make such vow in order to be saved because God already did that for us.

While there are those who are more focused on fulfilling the traditions and doing sacrifices during Holy Week, Lingayen Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas reminded Catholics that the observance is “holy” not because of the religious traditions or what one must do to “feel good” after.

“Holy Week is about what Christ has done for humanity. Let the memory of God’s mercy sink in without any compulsion to do something,” he said.

“Just relish His mercy and bask in the radiance of His love,” Villegas added.

And if there’s one thing that the faithful should remember doing this Holy Week, the former head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said it is to tell God “Thank you”.(Selies Galvez)

Selies Galvez