For most of us, the Holy Week means dragging ourselves to churches or staying home watching classic movies and mass services on TV. The idea is to feel miserable until the Easter celebrations arrive. We're supposed to reflect and repent and not have fun, right?
But being lifeless doesn't have to be part of your penitensya, since there are actually more spectacular ways to be spiritual this Holy Week! We list down below the Places Every Holy Week Vacationer Should Visit!
BANTAYAN'S SEMANA SANTA FIESTA
Head to: Bantayan Island, Cebu
Why: Because it's only here where the entire Semana Santa is treated like a week-long fiesta. While other parts of the country are mourning, Bantayan starts its festivities as early as Maundy Thursday through grandiose processions, star-studded beach games, and sharing sumptuous delicacies, including meat.
"But why?" you ask? Historically, Bantayan Island was exempted by Pope Leo VII from not eating meat to encourage the fish-eating locals to adopt the Holy Week tradition. As their Lenten sacrifice, people devote their resources to decorating the dazzling carrozas staging life-sized statues of Christ and the saints. And, you know, having Holy Week fun.
How to get there from Manila: One-hour flight to Cebu, three-hour bus travel to Hagnaya Port, one-hour boat ride to the island
Head to: Intramuros, Manila
Why: Aside from the newly-renovated Manila Cathedral that makes you want to get married on the spot, Intramuros has other unique features that evoke nostalgia and self-reflection. There's the San Agustin Church, the oldest church in the country, which was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its murals and baroque architecture. It's also known for having the longest aisle, which is why it's the "wedding capital" of the country.
You can also time travel to 15th century Manila by riding a kalesa with a costumed, English-speaking kutsero who will tour you around the Walled City while lecturing you about history.
How to get there: Ride a cab, take a Quiapo bus then a jeep going to Intramuros
THE PRANKSTERS OF MORIONES
Head to: The towns of Boac, Gasan, Torrijos, Mogpog, and Sta.Cruz in Marinduque
Why: Imagine pesky Roman soldiers roaming the streets, scaring visitors, engaging in mock duels, and playing pranks on children–this is Holy Week in Marinduque, the “Lenten Capital of the Philippines.”
Sounds fun, but these soldiers are penitents who vowed to wear the heavy, full gear Roman costume and parade under the sweltering summer heat every day for the entire Holy Week. On Easter Sunday, they will re-enact the biblical tale of Longinus by playing chase-and-behead antics around town, and you’ll be glad to be a willing victim.
How to get there from Manila: 30-minute flight to Gasan