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Holy Week Activities You Can Take Part in Around the Country

Religious traditions to experience in Manila, Cebu, Ilocos, and more.
IMAGE Brynht/ WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
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Holy Week is the most solemn period of the Lenten Season, as it commemorates the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ.

The Philippines is packed with traditions revolving around this period.

Wherever you are in the country, you can find pilgrimage destinations and processions you can visit or experience. We've compiled some of the most significant places and events around the country that Catholics visit during Holy Week. 

Pink Sisters Chapel in Baguio and Tagaytay 


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The Pink Sisters, formally known as the Sister Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration, are cloistered nuns who have dedicated their lives to constant prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. They wear pink habits as a sign of adoration for the Holy Spirit, earning themselves their famous moniker “Pink Sisters.” Their chapels, known for their simple and solemn settings, are located in Baguio City and Tagaytay City.

The nuns are physically separated by grilles from the outside world, and they are not allowed to talk to people. However, the nuns do have a special window where you can leave your petitions and prayer intentions in an envelope addressed to the nuns, and they will pray for you.

The Easter Vigil schedule usually starts at 8 p.m, but you can always stop by the chapels and spend time in reflection and prayer at other times. A Pink Sister will always be praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament 24 hours a day. If you’re at the Tagaytay chapel, visit to the store beside the chapel and pick up some uraro cookies made by the nuns to help them with their upkeep.

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The Pink Sisters Chapels are located on Brent Road, Baguio, and on a side road in Aguinaldo Highway in Tagaytay. 

Baliuag, Bulacan: Witnessing the Grand Carrozas 


For generations, families in Baliuag, Bulacan have offered their painstaking labor as a Lenten sacrifice to make their famous grand carrozas, or floats depicting Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and various saints. Each carroza is a labor of love: The statues are finely dressed in ornate garments in hues of purple, silver, and gold. The dresses and carrozas are different each year with the gilded carriages adorned with flowers and dramatic lighting.

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The procession of these life-size figures is a sight to behold, contrasting the sorrowful images of the Blessed Virgin and Christ with the rich color of the carriages. Altogether, the carrozas tell the story of the passion and death of Christ. Traditionally on Good Friday, the families line up their grand carrozas from the Saint Augustine Parish Church, from where the parade of the carrozas around town starts and ends.

If you want to witness this elaborate procession of the cast of the Lord’s Passion, you can visit the Saint Augustine Parish Church in Baliuag, Bulacan on Good Friday and attend the liturgical services in the late afternoon. The procession starts after the services. Click here for some of the best pictures of the grand carrozas from 2015. 

Simala Shrine in Cebu 


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The Simala Shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary is one of the most visited sites by Catholics and pilgrims in Cebu during Holy Week. The church resembles a castle lying on a sprawling hill, adding to its grandeur. It is most famous, however, for its miraculous events attributed to the Blessed Virgin. Leading up to one of the shrine’s entrances is a hall where various things are displayed: diplomas, wheelchairs, crutches, letters of thanksgiving, medical certificates —the answered prayers.

The shrine was built by the Marian Monks of Eucharistic Adoration in 1998. After hearing mass, fall in line to pray to the Virgin Mary and offer a kiss or “halok.” 

The Simala Shrine is located at Marian Hills, Lindogon, Simala, Sibonga, Cebu.

Pilgrimage at Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte


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Formally called Saint Augustine Church, the Paoay Church is one of only six UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Philippines. The church is one of the very few existing “earthquake baroque” churches, the term stemming from the necessity of rebuilding churches after earthquakes, resulting in heavily buttressed sides and lighter materials used for upper sections. The most interesting thing about the church’s structure is its walls, which are made from coral stones. The mortar or the filling used in between the wall’s bricks is made from sand, molasses, eggs, and lime. 

Ilocos has dozens of colonial-era churches built in the 16th to 18th centuries,  ideal if you want to do visita iglesiaIf you do this, consider making Paoay Church your main pilgrimage stop. After your visit, cross the plaza in front of the church and treat yourself to a unique pinakbet pizza from the restaurant across the church.

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Paoay Church is located in the town of Paoay, Ilocos Norte.

Taal Town, Batangas


When Filipinos hear the word “Taal,” we usually associate it with a tiny volcano in the middle of a lake. However, its namesake is a heritage town with architecture from the 17th and 18th century. It is also the location of the country’s biggest church—the Taal Basilica or the Minor Basilica of Saint Martin de Tours.

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A couple of meters away from Taal Basilica is the famous Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay, another miraculous place of worship for Catholics. The church was built at the site of multiple apparitions of the Virgin Mary, as documented by Spanish friars.

While in town, you can take advantage of the many sellers of finely woven piña fabrics, from placemats, tablerunners, and napkins, to handkerchiefs, and garments. The town of Taal is known for its piña fabrics. More intricate embroidery, known as “Burdang Taal,” fetch higher prices, but it is only in this town where you can get them at cheaper prices. Piña is considered the most elegant fabric used for barongs.

Poblacion, Makati

Poblacion in Makati is well known for its restaurants and bars, but a different tone of solemnity is observed in the neighborhood during Holy Week as about 50 carrozas comprise the largest procession of its kind in this part of Makati. The carrozas are carefully designed and prepared by the residents of Poblacion and surrounding villages. The parade of carrozas is the longest and largest in Metro Manila. 

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Santo Domingo Parish Church, Quezon City


If you are around Quezon City during Holy Week, consider making a pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, also known as Santo Domingo Church (it was Saint Dominic who instituted the praying of the rosary). The church is the largest church in Metro Manila. It hosts the annual La Naval procession. The National Museum declared the church a National Cultural Treasure in 2011. 

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Although the church has been rebuilt many times throughout the centuries, the present church is a modern work of art showcasing pieces by National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco and its famous stained glass windows by Galo Ocampo, depicting the original 15 Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, and the image of Our Lady of the Roasy of La Naval. The best time to visit is in the morning when there is ample sunlight to illuminate the stained glass artworks.

While here, visit the Santo Domingo Museum, which houses rare artifacts from previous centuries, such as gold crucifixes, many rosaries, and tabernacles used in Intramuros during the colonial period.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
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