Holy Week is one of the most significant seasons in the Philippines. It is during this time that Roman Catholics engage in different practices of faith, commemorating the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a period of solemnity, reflection, penitence, and cultural tradition, regardless of one's religious affiliations.
Waving the palaspas during Palm Sunday to celebrate the triumphant arrival of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, the enacting of traditional passion plays or senakulo, participating in various street processions of holy images, and praying in seven different churches to complete their Visita Iglesia are just some of the traditions that Filipinos observe to practice their faith during the Lenten Season. Weekly fasting and abstinence are also commonplace, with the community gathering for the old tradition of pabasa where they chant the life, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
But Holy Week this year is going to be a little different as the country is still going through a global health situation. Rising cases and stricter community protocols have essentially kept the public indoors once again.
To help Filipinos continue the Holy Week tradition, the Department of Tourism (DOT) is providing alternative ways for the people to practice their faith and reflect while at home, while also sharing a wealth of interesting cultural and educational resources.
The DOT is promoting virtual tours connected with cultural and faith tourism. These virtual tours are in the form of 360 videos, video tours, live streaming, and live broadcast of activities during Holy Week.
Here are the different places you can virtually visit as recommended by the DOT:
Museo de Intramuros
The Intramuros Administration has come up with different video tours for viewing anytime on their official Facebook page. One of them is a series on the ecclesiastical museum Museo de Intramuros which was opened to the public in May 2019.
The series has 7 episodes with topics ranging from the Museo's current exhibits, collections, and buildings to an in-depth view on how personal and intimate the Filipinos' response was to evangelization.
Fort Santiago, Intramuros
Fort Santiago is one of the national shrines and landmarks that has stood witness to numerous events in the Philippines' pre-hispanic and colonial history.
If you want to go on an adventure on this historic site without leaving your home, check out the Fort Santiago virtual tour:
Another interesting virtual tour you may want to see is the Intramuros Administration's Casa Manila. Found inside Plaza San Luis, a cultural-commercial complex in Intramuros, is a lifestyle museum showcasing the domestic lifestyle of a native principalia or noble class during the Spanish colonial period.
Tour around the imposing stone-and-wood ancestral house and its various rooms here:
The Intramuros Administration will also hold a virtual Stations of the Cross taken inside Fort Santiago on April 2, Good Friday. This will be posted, together with other Lenten activities, on Intramuros Administration's official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/OfficialIntramurosAdministration.
There are also different online activities in time for the Holy Week for devotees who want to explore Region 3 or Central Luzon.
In Bulacan, a film about the life and sacrifices of Jesus Christ called "PASYON: Senakulo Filipino" will be available for viewing at different churches starting March 28 until April 3, 2021. For more details, visit this site.
A 360 virtual tour is available for everyone who wants to explore Bataan's attractions. Religious sites like the Minor Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Orani and Mt. Samat Shrine of Valor are available via its website.
Short virtual tours promoting Tarlac's destinations through its #TravelTomorrow videos can be viewed here .
Visita Iglesia is one of the annual Holy Week activities that Roman Catholics engage in and devotees do not have to miss it this year.
The province of Laguna is offering its first virtual church visitation in the Philippines through this link.
A video for anyone who likes arts and crafts is also up in Cavite's Virtual Trade Fair. Take a look at different artworks crafted by the local artists of the Alitaptap Community in Amadeo, Cavite.
Over at the Province of Batangas, the LGU's are staging a Virtual Station of the Cross:
and Virtual Cruzada 2021. There is also an online viewing of Pitong Huling Wika sa Diwa ng Alay Kapwa .
Meanwhile, the Province of Quezon will be relieving biblical events called Dulaan sa Lansangan 2021 – The Virtual Edition. This is a pre-recorded video launching on March 31 via Sariaya Tourism's Official Facebook page.
In Negros Occidental, a virtual Lenten offering called Negros Visita Iglesia 2021 will be available for streaming on Holy Thursday, April 1, starting at 10 am.
There will also be a replay of the previous Worship Festival called Semana Santa sa Buenavista. This is a religious celebration of all religious groups in Guimaras.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is offering a virtual tour of Iloilo for its first-ever Visita Iglesia in the Philippines on this episode of The Fiesta Filipinas: An Online Celebration of Philippine Festivals.
The multi-format online event series is all about showcasing Philippine festivals, culture, and traditions to the global audience and this episode, which will go live on March 27, will take viewers around Iloilo. From the beautiful old-world architecture of its churches to the modern, fast-developing city center, viewers will see the rich history and picturesque sceneries of Iloilo. It will also show one of the four baroque churches inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the Miagao Church.
Watch it here.
The project is organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of the Philippines (DFA) in cooperation with the Department of Tourism - Philippines (DOT) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
Cebu is often considered as the birthplace of Christianity in the Far East, as it is where the first Spanish settlement was established and where they first taught the faith. To celebrate 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines, there will be a webinar series dubbed “Bound by History: Magellan, Santo Niño, and the Beginnings of the Augustinian Evangelization.” Part 3 will talk about The Augustinians, their pioneering missionary work, and how this has made an impact on the growth of Christianity in the country. Everyone can register here to take part in the online seminar.
Seeing as the country will also commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Victory at Mactan, the Philippines Part in the First Circumnavigation of the World, and other related events this year, a special committee was created to mount the 2021 Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines (2021 QCP). From March 16 until October 28, 2021, the calendar is filled with art competitions, the unveiling of historical markers, and televised shows. You can find the complete list of events and how to participate here .
You may also find some interesting Philippine history lectures and reading materials via the Online Lecture Portal.
Mirador Jesuit Villa Retreat House is a now-not-so-secret spot in Baguio. This retreat house near the Lourdes Grotto offers a serene and awe-inspiring view of Baguio. It used to be a meteorological observatory, with Jesuit scientists measuring rainfalls, observing winds, recording earthquakes. Attend a virtual mass in this historic site from March 28 - April 4, 2021. Go to their page bit.ly/miradorholyweek or miradorjesuitvilla.com to get details.
Whatever the situation is, Holy Week is an opportune time to contemplate, meditate, and keep your faith. The faithful are armed with all innovative means to continue deepening their devotion and connection with God despite community restrictions.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that these virtual programs will pave the way to a safer and more resilient resumption of faith for Filipino Roman Catholics, while also sharing to the public the rich heritage and unique cultural traditions of the Philippines.
For more information on the Department of Tourism, visit its Facebook page or its website.
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