Manila, Philippines – Time-tested traditions and solemn rites will be observed across the country today, Good Friday, traditionally observed as a day of fasting, abstinence, penance, prayer, and alms-giving.
Grand processions of religious images that depict the passion of Christ, His crucifixion, death, and burial, will be held in key cities and provinces.
Observed as one of the highlights of “Semana Santa” or Holy Week, a set list of life-size images and key religious ﬁgures will be paraded solemnly through the streets a few hours after 3 p.m., the time Jesus was believed to have died on the cross.
The carriages will be followed by parish church officials, representatives of religious groups, and devotees holding candles, singing hymns, and praying the Holy Rosary. Church leaders have requested political bets not to use the occasion as an opportunity to campaign.
The set of religious images is similar to that of the Holy Wednesday procession but this time, with the addition of the “Pieta,” Christ being brought down from the cross, and the “Santo Sepulcro” (interred Christ).
The last image in the procession is traditionally the “Mater Dolorosa” (Sorrowful Mother), the grieving Blessed Mother garbed in black, mourning the death of her Son.
In San Mateo, Rizal and Meycauayan, Bulacan, around 62 life-size images usually comprise the Good Friday procession.
In Baliuag, Bulacan, some 80 religious images will be paraded through the streets, while in Sorsogon City, barefoot devotees will join the two-hour procession through the city streets in a display of piety and reverence.
Processions will also be held in Pakil, Majayjay, Paete, and San Pablo City, Laguna and Molo, Iloilo.
Other religious observances today include praying the Acts of Reparation, the Veneration of the Cross, meditation on the Seven Last Words, the praying of the Way of the Cross, and the presentation of the “senakulo“ or Passion plays.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle will lead rites at the San Fernando de Dilao Parish in Paco, Manila at 3 p.m.
In some localities such as in Cutud, San Fernando, Pampanga, it has become a tradition for a number of devotees, including women, to have themselves nailed on the cross, a practice that brings in the crowd but has been frowned upon and discouraged by the Catholic Church.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, president of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), has reminded the faithful “to avoid activities that inflict physical pain and to focus instead on prayers, self-evaluation, and reflections.“
No bells will be rung in churches today, while the holy water fonts will be emptied in preparation for the blessing of the water during the Easter vigil.
After 3 p.m., the faithful are encouraged to keep a solemn and prayerful disposition.
Meanwhile, the annual Good Friday procession in commemoration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene will be held at 5 a.m.
The “Siete Palabras“ will be held at noon, the Veneration of the Cross at 3 p.m., and the procession of the Santo Entierro (Sacred Interred Christ) with the Mother Dolorosa followed by the “pahalik sa Krus“ will be held at 5 p.m. (Christina I. Hermoso)