At onset of long holiday, Filipinos immerse themselves in play, prayer or both

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 19 2019 01:08 AM

Hundreds of Filipinos gathered at churches, and crowded ports and tourist destinations as they devoted their time to prayer and bonding with family on Maundy Thursday, the start of an annual four-day holiday leading up to Easter.

Unmindful of the scorching heat, pilgrims in and out of Metro Manila traveled to churches and chapels for the annual Visita Iglesia, among them foreigners. 

That was the scene at Intramuros, as devotees gathered at places of worship to express their faith.

At Plaza Roma fronting a cathedral, violet flaglets symbolizing the sufferings of Jesus Christ greeted people.

Manila Cathedral, the country’s so-called “mother church,” has been receiving pilgrims as early as 5 a.m.

The Intramuros administration for the first time opened eight other places of worship within the Walled City.

Stations of the Cross were placed inside and outside of the San Agustin Parish church.

Meanwhile, some 30,000 devotees flocked Quiapo Church to attend mass and participate in Visita Iglesia. 

Fr. Douglas Badong, parochial vicar of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, said the program went smoothly, except for two incidents of churchgoers experiencing dizziness. 

From there, some pilgrims trekked to Antipolo City to remember Jesus Christ's ultimate sacrifice. 

The traditional trek, called "alay lakad" (walk offering), brings about 2 million devotees annually. 

The pilgrims walked their way to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, colloquially known as Antipolo Cathedral.

TOURIST SPOTS

Scores of devotees flocked Tagaytay, a city popular for hosting religious and personal retreats. 

Authorities expect tourists and devotees alike to visit some 179 churches and convents there.

The local government also implemented a single-flow traffic scheme to control the flow of traffic in the city. 

While others immersed themselves in prayer and devotion to God, others took the time to unwind at beaches and other tourist destinations with their loved ones. 

Tourists gathered at Batangas Port, where trips to popular tourist destination Puerto Galera are stationed. 

Meanwhile, some opted to stay in the metro to spend picnics and swim with their families around Baseco Beach, amid reminders that staying there may have adverse effects to one's health.

TRAGEDIES, SUFFERING

Not everyone's Holy Week went well.

In Tarlac, a truck collided with motorcycle riders who were on their way to Manaoag town in Pangasinan for their annual Visita Iglesia, an incident that killed four and wounded four others. 

“Masakit po, hindi akalain, ngayon lang nangyari sa amin, taun-taon nagbi-Visita Iglesia kami, maingat naman kami, siya lang talaga ang hindi maingat,” Marlon Mendoza, one of the casualties' siblings, said. 

(It hurts. We didn't expect this to happen. We do this every year and we take care of ourselves. The driver wasn't careful.) 

The driver was arrested and will be facing charges. 

—With reports from Michael Delizo, Sherrie Ann Torres, Maan Macapagal, Yohanna Tacason, Niko Baua, and Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News