MANILA—Two years into the pandemic and after the easing of protocols in religious establishments, Filipino Catholics once again flocked to churches in Manila and Quezon City for Holy Week.
Many parishioners trooped for Good Friday — usually observed as a day of sorrow and penance — to St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Timog, Sacred Heart Parish in Kamuning and the Immaculate Cathedral in Cubao, Quezon City.
In the Minor Basilica Of The National Shrine Of Lady Of Mount Carmel in New Manila, churchgoers observed a localized version of a Catholic tradition called “Siete Palabras” or the retelling of the “Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ”.
In Manila, devotees flocked to two of the city's major churches, Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, or Quiapo Church; and the Minor Basilica and Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, or Manila Cathedral.
As expected, thousands came to Quiapo Church to observe various Lenten traditions for the first time since the pandemic. The Philippine capital has been under strict lockdowns during the past two years.
Plaza Miranda was barricaded to limit devotees, while some decided to stay outside the church grounds to listen to the rumination on Christ's seven last words.
Earlier at dawn, the replica of the Black Nazarene image was drawn out through a motorcade. But it was cut short due to unruly devotees who joined the procession.
At the Manila Cathedral, Manila Archbishop Jose Cardinal Advincula dedicated the mass to the Philippines "suffering through the pandemic, calamities, corruption and crimes."
He said it was Jesus' sufferings that made it possible for mankind to live a Christ-driven life.
"Hindi madali para sa atin ang tumulad sa gawi ni Jesus. Tinuturo nya na hindi imposible. Ginawa nyang posible basta bukas sa biyaya ng Ama at may gabay ng Espiritu Santo, maaaring mabuhay si Kristo sa ating sariling katawan," he said.
Advincula offered prayers for the people of war-torn Ukraine, its leaders, and the upcoming Philippine national elections.
The church only allowed an estimated 1,000 churchgoers from the usual 5,000 capacity despite an eased COVID restrictions in Metro Manila. Strict physical distancing was enforced.
Holy Week in Luneta, Manila Dolomite Beach
Some Filipinos meanwhile chose to visit tourist attractions in Manila for Semana Santa, such as Luneta or Rizal Park, which continues to be the go-to place among families, friends, and lovers.
The park was not as crowded as during its pre-pandemic days, but it was business as usual for park photographers, tourist workers, kalesa drivers, ice cream and toy vendors.
Some visitors also dropped by the Manila Bay Dolomite Beach. Though the area was still closed to the public, the guard allowed visitors to take photos at the gate area.
The Department of Environment earlier announced the re-opening of the beach will be after Holy Week.—Reports from Jeff Canoy and Nico Bagsic, ABS-CBN News