Holy Week in the Philippines

When I was growing up in the Philippines, during Cuaresma (Holy Week), from Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday) to Pasko ng Pagkabuhay (Easter Sunday), Catholic rites in the Philippines were infused with special fervor. It was a time for street pageantry and spiritual cleansing with processions, flagellantes, and passion plays.

On Palm Sunday, the devouts brought palm branches to church to be blessed as symbols of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In rural areas, the palms might be dried and ground as a medicinal ingredient. Ceremonies reenacting the washing of the feet of the apostles were held in churches on Holy Thursday and Good Friday was a very solemn day. It was also marked by a vigil and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. In churches, priests expounded on Christ’s seven last words spoken on the cross. During Lent, tradition calls for Passion, a book of verses from the creation of man through Christ’s resurrection was read or sung either by an individual or a group as a devotional prayer.

Easter Sunday marked the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and the purple cloth of mourning was removed from the religious images. Church bells pealed and alleluias were sung. The salubong (meeting) took place. The Easter celebration started at dawn around five o’clock with a procession heralding the resurrection of Christ and his reunion with Mary. After the mass at dawn, twin processions left the church led by statues of Mary, the Sorrowful Mother, and the Resurrected Christ and followed by women and men, respectively. The two processions went on opposite direction around the town plaza and then meet in front of the church on the way back.

As choruses were sung, the statues “met”, meaning placed side by side beneath an arch adorned with flowers in front of the church. A little girl dressed as an angel, with wings and a halo, will remove Mary’s black veil with a long handled hook. Its removal was connected with superstitions about the harvest (e.g. a smooth unveiling meant a good harvest, a fallen veil drought). It put so much pressure on the little girl who was doing the honor. I used to participate in this tradition. It was one of the most memorable days of my growing up years.

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BAUAN CATHEDRAL IN BAUAN, BATANGAS

During the Spanish regime, the Spaniards tried to Christianize the Filipinos and they built great churches during their more than three hundred years regime in thePhilippines. The church in Bauan, Batangas has a long history.

The first church of Bauan was not located at the present site. Since the Mission of Bauan was a visita of Taal, the first church was built along the southern shores of Taal Lake in a place called Tambo. Bauan Parish was founded on May 17, 1590 as Luman Bauang and became an independent parish on May 12, 1596.

Since its foundation, the Bauan Parish has been relocated three times. To escape the violent eruptions of Taal Volcano, another church was built in 1667 by Fr. Jose Rodriguez in a place called Durungao, then relocated later to Loual in 1671 by Fr. Nicolas de Rivera. Another church was built in 1692 near the sea during the administration of Fr. Simon Martinez but was damaged during the typhoon of 1694. It was rebuilt from 1695 to 1697 by Fr. Ignacio Mercado. The church was damaged again. Fr. Blas Vidal built a stone structure from 1700 to 1710.

 Fr. Jose Victoria started building the present church in 1762 and construction continued for years. Fr. Jose Trevino added the convent in 1762 and also the magnificent, hexagonal domed bell tower in 1772. Fr. Alberto Tabores installed a huge bell in the tower in 1788. The present church was built in 1848 by Fr. Manuel del Arco who put the stone fence of the atrium with wrought iron columns. The tower and the choir loft were destroyed in 1870 and were repaired in 1874 and a clock was also installed. Its façade was completed by Fr. Hipolito Huerta who also worked on the transept and was completed by Fr. Felipe Bravo in 1881. Final decorations were applied starting in 1881 under the direction of Fr. Moises Santos and continued until 1894 under Fr. Felipe Garcia.  The Bauan Cathedral was the most artistically built church in Batangas at that time. However, the church burned down during the Philippine revolution against Spain in 1898 and then completely rebuilt. However, it was destroyed by fire again in 1938. Then it was restored again.

The church houses the Holy Cross of Bauan, the patron saint of the town. The cross was found in 1595 by local natives in a place called Dingin, near Alitagtag and installed later in Bauan Cathedral.

 

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In the book “BAHALA NA (Come What May)”, this is the place where Benjamin and Adelaide were married in 1943.

 

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This is the back where the Japanese stored all the cotton harvested by the townspeople and later shipped to Japan. Sources said that the Japanese built a tunnel from the church to nearby towns.

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This is the convent and the school attached to the church mentioned in the “BAHALA NA (Come What May)” where Adelaide and her sister used to help the nuns.

 

Copyright © 2013. By Rosalinda R Morgan, author of “BAHALA NA (Come What May”.

All rights reserved. BAUAN CATHEDRAL IN BAUAN BATANGAS