The Philippines is predominantly comprised of Catholics. It has been a tradition that Holy Week is observed in a special way. This year, Holy Week will begin on Palm Sunday, March 24, 2012, and shall end on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2012. The Filipinos, each have their own way of observing Holy Week. The most common one is penance. Some would go on fasting, visit different churches, and some would even hurt themselves as an act of penance.
However, as time passes by, it seems that a lot of things are changing. Decades ago, people just stayed in their homes and solemnly observed Holy Week. No one played loud music, roads were empty, malls were closed, and people converged at churches, and sometimes watched religious TV programs. Especially on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Black Saturday, the neighborhood was quiet. From Monday through Wednesday, a lot of people were still busy but you’d notice the ramp down as the weekend approaches.
Regular TV programming was usually suspended and even radio stations were off the air. People would just simply rest and, usually, reflect with their friends and/or loved ones. Oh, and yes, there’s no internet and mobile phones were still figments of the imagination.
But now, especially with the huge business process outsourcing industry, a lot of people have work. Some are even on the graveyard shift. Since their clients are overseas and are not observing the Philippine holidays, they need to work.
It is enticing though since it’s mandated in the Philippine Labor Code that working during regular holidays shall be paid double. But nevertheless, I still see a lot of people solemnly observing Holy Week even when they’re at their workplaces. Come to think of it, I’ll be working this year’s Holy Week as well.
As I mentioned above, different acts of penance are being performed during Holy Week. Some stay away from gadgets, games, malls, etc. Some don’t even watch TV or movies. Some read books and so on. We each have our own little way of penance. Some people go the extra mile by walking very long distances under the heat of the sun, whipping themselves and a few, crucifying themselves. People usually resume their regular activities on Easter Sunday.
Nowadays, people really don’t observe Holy Week the same way as before. Malls are open, the roads are still packed with cars, and more and more people go to vacation spots. I understand that not all are Catholics. But observing Holy Week by partying, drinking, having lots of fun and so on, as a Catholic, you could at least give a few minutes to solemnly reflect.
I do understand that for some people, it’s the only time of the year where you have a long weekend vacation. But I won’t hold anything against anyone. It has always been our own choices how we observe the Lenten Season.