THE LENTEN season is an important event in a predominantly Catholic country like the Philippines. For the religious and the Catholics, it is time to reflect and repent.
Filipinos have different religious traditions in observance of the Lenten season that vary from region to region. In the province of Rizal there are some distinct Holy week practices and traditions.
Antipolo City prides itself as the “Pilgrimage Capital of the Philippines.” Some historians say that pilgrims have been coming here since the late 1600s.
The object of the devotion is Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. A popular practice of pilgrims is the trek known as “alay lakad” (walk offering) to the shrine of the Virgin of Antipolo on the eve of Good Friday coming from various locations in Rizal Province and nearby cities. Some pilgrims begin their journey from Quiapo Church in Manila and walk their way to the shrine.
Kordero in Morong
“Kordero,” which means lamb, is a reenactment of the preparation of the paschal lamb for the Passover meal that Jesus and his 12 apostles took. It is a symbol of Jesus as a sacrificial lamb who suffered to redeem mankind from sin.
In Morong, a “lamb” made of sweet potatoes is carried in a procession before the Maundy Thursday Mass.
In the early years, it was only in Morong where the Kordero has been done for 60 years until it captured the attention of nearby towns in Rizal and neighboring cities.
Senakulo in Cainta
The most noteworthy rituals in the town of Cainta are the “Senakulo” (Passion Play), “Penetencia” (Sacrifice) and “Ang Pagpapako” (The Crucifixion of Jesus).
The tradition dates back to 1904 that originated from Barrio Dayap in the town where at that time the population consisted of a small group of residents who were mostly related to each other.
Most people believe that calamities were brought by evil spirits so they decided to erect a cross on a vacant lot to serve as protection and paid homage to it by lighting it every night. Since then, many citizens of Cainta have vowed to read the Pasyon (Passion of Christ) every Lenten season and over the years, followers and devotees of the cross have multiplied.
The citizens eventually staged a passion play to further their devotion and religious observance. The tradition started to attract attention and drew people from nearby towns and cities who flock to Cainta during Holy Week to witness the Senakulo. To accommodate more devotees and a wider audience, the stage play was moved to a bigger open area.
Semana Santa exhibit in Angono
Angono mounts a “Semana Santa” (Holy Week) exhibit that showcases centuries-old statues of various saints. The owners of the statues hold a Rosario Cantada (rosary and hymn) and “Pabasa” (singing of the Passion of Christ) in their homes starting on Palm Sunday until Good Friday and distribute free food to participants, an activity called “caridad” (charity) as part of their Holy Week devotion and tradition.