The Holy Week Celebration in Capiz, Philippines is different charm for everyone that combines native traditions and modern day touches with numerous innovations. This has been considered as the holiest week. As Pan-ay town and Capiz became the center of Catholicism in the Panay Island during the Spanish colonization in 18th century, Capiznon tradition in celebrating Holy Week was greatly influenced by Spanish conquistadores.
Lenten season has been solemnly observed by Capizeño through “Pagpamalandung” with a mixture of pagan rituals and “Panimad-on” or superstitions. Others where busy looking for “Pangalap” or amulet in the mountains and caves in Capiz specially during Good Friday where they believed could protect them from harm, physical or otherwise. Some are fulfilling their vows or “pana-ad” through “penitensya” or penitence, sacrifices, myriad of flagellants, “puasa” or fasting; and church visits or “visita iglesia”.
Holy Week Processions in Good Friday is one of the spectacular activity should’nt be missed.
Lenten season is also a chance for family members, batchmates, classmates, kababata and barkadas to be reunited in which majority of them where having their vacations.
The following are major activities in the celebration of Holy Week of Capiznons:
Palm Sunday o Domingo de Ramos
After the Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday is the beginning of the celebration of the Holy Week. This is in commemoration/celebration of the entrance of Jesus Christ as a Mesiah into Jerusalem to accomplish his paschal mystery.
Before the celebration of Mass during Palm Sunday, the priest blesses the palm leaves o “lukay lukay” followed with a reading of a Gospel that accounts Jesus entrance to Jerusalem riding in a donkey where people along the road wave their palm leaves. After hearing the Gospel, the congregation enters the church while holding the blessed palm leaves/branches.
Capiznon are good of making palm crosses or “lukay” which are made of coconut palm weaved, crisscross and decorated to form different shapes such as flower, boats, balls and birds. Lukay has been blessed during Palm Sunday Mass. We usually call this as “Bendita sang Lukay”.
Many Catholic Capiznon bring home the blessed “lukay” and place them on their altars or by the doorways and windows in the belief that it could bring luck or ward off evil spirits. Others believed that palm are useful to drive away calamities. All palms blessed on this day should be burnt into ashes next year’s Ash Wednesday.
Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday and Spy Wednesday
This is the period were Passion or “Pasyon” has been read. A poetic-prayer story of the experience, life, passion and death of Jesus Christ taken from the verses of the Bible was prolong chanted by mostly old ladies who where devout in church activities.
“Pagtal-tal” has been performed in the Municapility of President Roxas to commemorate the passionate portrayal of Christ’s tribulations.
Holy Thursday or Huebes Santo
A Chrism Mass was held in the Archdiocese with the “Arsobispo” (Msgr. Oniesimo Gordoncillo) as the main celebrant together with the clergy under the diocese. The Bishop blesses oil for the sick, for catechumens (used in baptism), chrism o Krisma (used for confirmation and Holy Orders) during the mass. The mass was followed by a procession of the Blessed Sacrament before it is taken to the “altar of repose”.
Commemoration of the Last Supper
In the evening of Holy Thursday, a mass was celebrated to commemorate the Last Supper of Jesus Christ together with the Eleven Apostles. After the homily, the bishop/main celebrant then celebrates the rite of washing the feet of at least twelve men.
Station of the Cross or Via Crusis
As a sign of penance o “penetensya”, faithful conduct pilgrimage through visita iglesia or church visits to at least seven churches or parish. Contemplation of the 14 Stations of the Cross is done during the visita iglesia. This is ended until the morning of Good Friday. This is also a great opportunity for others to see the different architectures of churches and took souvenir pictures.
Good Friday or Biernes Santo
All cross in the Catholic Churches have been reversed on this day as a sign of mourning for Christ’s death. The altar remains completely bare with no candle, text or altar clothes and the Holy water basin has been emptied. The via crusis was conducted before noon. Others are also performing “Pagtaltal” or “Senakulo” as a reflection of mourning of the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. Some are doing their “panata” and even have themselves nailed in the cross as expression of penance. Devotees of the Virgin Mary attended a mass held at Agtalin Hill, Dulangan, Pilar, Capiz where a fifty-foot Miraculous Medal (Marian) Shrine of Blessed Virgin Mary was built.
In the afternoon (usually 3pm), a mass was held in celebration of Passion of Christ and the airing in local radio and TV stations of Jesus Seven Last Words or “Siete Palabras”. There are series of speakers depicting the life of Jesus Christ and most of them relate this to the current political, sociological and spiritual aspects of Capiznon and Filipino.
After the mass, a procession of the different figures displayed in religious floats, carroza or “paso” of all saints that has been part of passion of Jesus Christ was conducted until evening.
These “Paso” was usually owned by affluent residents of the town handed from generation to generation. It was decorated with gold and bronze plated frames adorned with cloying fresh flowers and set in blown glass and candlelight.
After the end of the procession, devotees tries to get some flowers or decorations from the Paso for them to kept, and believe that it may give them luck and blessing.
Others where joining the procession just to see friends, classmates, relatives and pals. Through walking long distances with candles dripping in their hands, they could talk and reminisce their experiences and childhood memories. Some teenagers grab this opportunity to look for familiar faces, sexy ladies and meet new friends, especially bakasyonista.
Black Saturday or Sabado de Gloria
This day should be observed with silence and solemnity, but others take the opportunity to do bad or sinful things, drink liquor or even gambling because they believe that Jesus Christ died and He (Jesus) cannot watch them.
A preparation for the celebration of the Easter Vigil has been made on this day. This was arranged in four parts: A brief service of light; Liturgy of the word; Liturgy of baptism and; Liturgy of the Eucharist.
“Pagkit-anay” or the Meeting was celebrated in the early morning of Easter Sunday. A procession of the statues of the Resurrected Jesus Christ, Virgin Mary, St. Peter, Mary Magdalene was held to commemorate their meeting and reunion after the resurrection. The statue of the Sorrowful Virgin Mary is veiled in black as a sign of her state of bereavement.
During the celebration, a girl, who dressed like an angel who was positioned in a scaffold or suspended in the mid-air, sings Regina Coeli and then dramatically pulls the veil of the statue of the Virgin Mary, signifying the end of her grieving. Glorious pealing of church bells, fireworks and singing of hymn of praise followed, as a sign opening of Easter Mass.
The egg was a symbol of the rebirth of the earth in Pagan celebrations of spring and was adopted by early Christians as a symbol of the rebirth.
Egg hunting activity where organize in some of the resorts in Roxas City and Capiz. Majority of the families are having their picnic in beautiful beaches Capiz and includes egg hunt on their activity.
Hard boiled eggs, decorated and painted with colors, varies in sizes where usually kept, buried in beach sand where being searched. The most number of eggs collected are declared as winners.
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