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Recapturing The True Meaning Of Semana Santa (UPDATED)

April 10, 2009



Filipino Catholic churches closed their doors this afternoon. It is only at this time of the year that this is done, signifying the ‘death of the Christ Jesus at the climax of His week-long Passion.

These past 5 days Filipino faithful have staged their individual, and collective, imitations of the Savior’s harrowing journey to redeem man from his sins.

While Semana Santa is a hand-me-down tradition from Spain, Filipinos have given it their own ‘hue’, even taking it to the extreme: bloody flagellation and excruciating crucifixion.

While the participants say they do these to atone for personal sins or prove themselves worthy of the Lord’s benediction, the practice is now capitalized on as tourism spectacles with the lukewarm prohibitions of Catholic Church prelates being largely ignored.

The times are hard and may indeed get harder before the economic situation plateaus and begins recovering.

The Church doors will reopen on Easter Sunday signalling Christ’s return from the dead and ascension into heaven.

For Filipinos, may the symbolisms and deeper meaning of Semana Santa become truly internalized, and practiced in our daily lives as wellsprings of hope, goodwill, and the drive to better themselves.


One story being reported just now is that of an Australian radio-TV comedian having been among the 29 men and women who were crucified yesterday in two towns in Pampanga,


One other curious, if not disturbing element in the report is how ‘for-hire’ penintentes are available to stand in for others.,27574,25318274-401,00.html

Back here at home, this morning after Easter, there are mixed images about how Philippine society appreciates the Resurrection.

But whether the images are pious or reflect the commercialized character of the event, Easter still is indeed about children and the hope, the joy. that they symbolize.


Am also sharing here a link to the superb shots taken by my friend and former boss Jess Matubis during his trip to Pampanga last Good Friday:

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