Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Filipino Lenten Season :D


Hi bats! Ima post something not Goth-related for now. Today's Black Saturday, Lent is almost over, and I just feel like sharing to the world how the people in the country I live in observe it. Almost all Filipinos are Roman Catholic (blame it to the Spaniards who colonized us for 3 centuries), a religion that has been molding us here into a prayerful, conservative, and strict kind of people. Here are some customs that range from peacefully solemn to strangely gory. O.o

This post is pretty long. Click Read more to read it :3

Kwaresma is the Filipino term (I think it's of Spanish origin though O.o) for Lent. It is the season when Filipinos remember Christ's passion (his suffering and death) and resurrection.  It starts on Ash Wednesday, forty days before Easter Sunday. Like all Catholics, we won't be eating meat on Fridays. :3

Ash Wednesday
On Ash Wednesday day, you will see Catholic Filipinos returning from church with ash smudged on their foreheads in the shape of a cross. If you don't have the mark, you will be asked if you have attended Mass. Fasting, abstinence, and repentance are practiced on this day. :D

Palm Sunday
At Mass (liturgy) on Palm Sunday (Linggo ng Palaspás or Domingo de Ramos), Catholics carry palm fronds to be blessed by the priest. Some communities re-enact Jesus' triumphal entry with a procession. A statue of Christ astride a donkey or the officiating priest on horseback processes around or towards the local church along with congregants bearing ornately woven palaspas (palm branches). In some towns, elderly women spread heirloom tapis ("aprons" made for this sole purpose) or large cloths along the route. Children dressed as angels sometimes sing the Osana ("Hosanna") whilst strewing flowers about.

Once blessed, the palaspas are taken home by the faithful and placed on altars, or hung beside, on, or above doorways and windows. Although the true purpose of this custom is to welcome Christ, many Filipinos hold the fronds to be apotropaic, able to banish evil spirits, avert lightning, and prevent fires. There is also a folk tradition of feeding pieces of the palm leaves to roosters for sabong (cockfighting), a practice that was strongly discouraged by the Archbishop of Manila, Luis Antonio Tagle.


Holy Monday 'til Holy Wednesday
Holy Monday starts of the solemn week since Filipinos observe Holy Week quietly and it is a tradition that until Black Saturday, most would avoid parties and would just stay in their homes and pray. Same goes for Holy Tuesday and Holy Wednesday. For most of the week, especially after Tuesday, the towns are eerily quiet with TV and radio stations going off the air and no loud noises or revelry whatsoever. Catholics stop eating meat, turning to fish, and the more devout ones go on a completely liquid diet. Many businesses are closed, so make sure you have supplies, especially food, stocked up.

Maundy Thursday
Maundy Thursday (Huwebes Santo) is the beginning of the Triduum, and represents the build-up of events for the week.

The main observance of the day is the last Mass before Easter (commonly called the Mass of the Institution of the Lord's Supper) usually including a re-enactment of the Washing of the Feet of the Apostles. My two brothers usually get called up by the nearby seminary's activity coordinator to join the twelve "Apostles" and have their feet washed! :D This Mass is then followed by the procession of the Blessed Sacrament before it is taken to the Altar of Repose.

Beginning in the morning, the faithful observe the "Visita Iglesia" or "Church Visit", which usually involves going to seven churches to meditate on the Way of the Cross; by evening this includes a visit to the exposed Blessed Sacrament on the Altar of Repose.

Good Friday
Good Friday is the bloodiest and most solemn day of the Filipino Holy Week. Good Friday, or Biyernes Santo, is a public holiday, commemorated with solemn street processions, the Way of the Cross, the commemoration of Jesus' Seven Last Words or Siete Palabras, and a traditional Passion play called the Senákulo, which in some places is a week-long affair. On this day, you will see religious figures being carried through the towns on top of carrozas (carriages). The religious images and statues are veiled in black in mourning of the death of Jesus. The most striking feature of  Holy Week celebrations in the Philippines is the sight of Filipinos publicly whipping themselves. These are reenactments of the torture and death of Jesus. Some Filipinos not only whip their backs into a bloody mess, they also have their feet and hands nailed to a wooden cross. Tourists come from all over the world for the sight!  In Manila, Tondo is the place to see these flagellants. Outside the capital, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija are famous for their flagellants who cover their faces with white cotton hoods. Crowns of thorns are placed on their heads to cause blood to drip!

Among Filipino superstitions on Good Friday is the prohibition against children playing. This is because they might injure themselves and not have their wounds heal. You will always be reminded that during this time when Jesus is dead, and so everything is awry and bad things are apt to happen. 

Personally, I think these customs are too.. well.. over-acting. This isn't an assurance for one to enter heaven, is it? I think it's.. unreasonable. I have a feeling God doesn't approve of this. O.o I also strongly suggest to the Church that these bloody practices be banned!

Black Saturday
I really love the name given to this day of the Holy Week! xD During Black Saturday, the Mass is held at night. Me and my family usually hear Mass in the nearby seminary. The lights are all turned off, and the people are made to bring candles. Some people bring bottles of water with them (which are later blessed after the Liturgy of the Word). Everyone gathers around a huge bonfire which is blessed by the celebrant during the ceremony. The priest holds a big candle known as the Paschal Candle and prays over it, then has it lighted. Once the candle has been lit there follows the ancient and dramatic rite of the Lucernarium, in which the candle is carried by a deacon through the nave of the church, itself in complete darkness, stopping three times to chant an acclamation such as 'Christ our Light' or 'Light of Christ' (Lumen Christi), to which the assembly responds 'Thanks be to God' or 'Deo Gratias'. This ceremony was once common in the Church, often occurred at Vespers and is still retained by Lutherans as official Vespers liturgical practice. Some congregations have restored this practice at Vespers, but it is most commonly seen at the Easter Vigil.

As the candle proceeds through the church, all present (i.e. those who have received the "Light of Christ") have their candles lit from the Paschal candle. As this symbolic "Light of Christ" spreads throughout those gathered, the darkness is decreased. The people bringing bottles of water approach the altar and place their bottles there.

The deacon, priest, or a cantor now chants the Exsultet (also called the "Easter Proclamation" or "Paschal Praeconium"), after which the people take their seats as the liturgy of the word begins.

Once the candle has been placed on its stand in the sanctuary, the lights in the church are switched on and the assembly extinguish their candles (although in some churches, the custom is to continue the liturgy by candlelight until the Gloria).

The Liturgy of the Word consists of seven readings from the Old Testament. Guess what? Tonight, I'll be the one to read the Second Reading! :3

After the Liturgy of the Word, the water of the baptismal font is solemnly blessed and we renew our baptismal vows. The priest then blesses everyone and the bottles of water by the altar.

After the prayers, the Liturgy of the Eucharist continues as usual. This is the first Mass of Easter Day. :3


Easter Sunday
Not really a part of the Lenten season, but this is the day when grocery stores re-open and you can buy food. xD People would party, go out to the malls and for most, visit the church and attend mass again. Everyone is happy that Jesus is alive again and that the world is back right. Not much people here go Easter Egg Hunting though. Only the rich families do that. O.o


Aside from the cultural traditions we do in the country, let me introduce you to some of our dishes during the season. ^w^


 Escabeche: a sweet-and-sour fish dish

Binignit: glutinous rice porridge with coconut cream, blended with some fruits and root crops like yam, sweet potatoes, pearl sago, and landang

Puto: glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk and, just like puto bumbong, eaten with a mixture of niyog (grated coconut) and sugar (MY FAVORITE! *A*)

Relyenong bangus: stuffed milkfish

Sarsyadong tilapya (sarciadong tilapia): tilapia fried, then sauteed in garlic and onions with a sauce of fresh tomatoes and eggs

Inihaw na isda: grilled fish; can be tilapia or milkfish

Piniritong isda: fried fish; can be tilapia or milkfish

Sardinas: sardines, eaten with plain boiled rice

Tuyo: dried fish, eaten with plain boiled rice

Guisadong ampalaya: bitter green gourd sauteed in garlic and onions

Munggo: mung beans boiled or sauteed in garlic and onions

Tortang talong: eggplant omelet

Pinakbet: a vegetable stew with eggplant and beans

Lumpiang gulay: spring rolls with vegetables as the filling

Lumpiang togue: spring rolls with bean sprouts as filling

Adobong sitaw: string beans cooked with soy sauce, vinegar and a bay leaf

Ginataan: stew of coconut milk (main ingredient could be vegetable or bilo-bilo)

Itlog na maalat: salted whole eggs, eaten with tomatoes

During the Holy Week, I especially liked watching this documentary:

Next year, why not pay this country a visit and see -- and taste -- all these yourself? :D
Time to prepare myself for Mass tonight! :3
God bless you all! :* ♥


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