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Bulacan Lenten Rites
Location Paombong, Malolos, Plaridel and Pulilan
A way of repentance and sharing in the sufferings of Christ, worshippers whip themselves or have themselves crucified at Kapitangan, Paombong during the Holy Week. Also, religious rituals are celebrated in all the towns especially in Malolos, Plaridel and Pulilan. Families with old life-size "Santos" bring them out during this time to be part of the colorful processions on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. On Easter Sunday, a little wooden angel (or a live little girl) descends from the Galilee to take off the virgin's mourning veil. Source: www.bulacan.gov.ph

Feast of San Roque
Date May 12
Venue Valenzuela, Bulacan
Description The Feast of San Roque street festival dates back to the 18th century, when the people of Valenzuela first gave thanks to their patron saint, San Roque. Women from the various barangays (neighbourhoods) of the town come together to dance in a street procession which lasts all day and night. Legend has it that if a girl wishes to find a boyfriend or a husband she must join the street dance before her wish is granted by San Roque. Thus, this Saint's Day serves to separate the girls who are looking from those who are already taken, making it much easier for the boys to choose their girl! Inevitably then, the procession of dancing ladies is the cause for great excitement and the atmosphere is always buzzing. Contact Person Divina Quetwa Tel. No. (63 44) 662-7635/791-7335/662-7635

Flores the Mayo
Date May 1 - 30
Venue Nationwide, N/A
Description First introduced by the Spanish friars in 1854, and ten years after blossomed in the various towns of Bulacan, Laguna, Batangas and Pampanga, the May devotion, also known as Flores de Mayo, is celebrated in the entire month of May when organizations like Daughters of Isabela, Knights of Columbus, Solidarity and Adoracion Nocturna, offer flowers to the Virgin Mary. The grand feast of the event is reserved for the last Sunday of the month when Mass is said and the image is led in a procession around town. Women who joined the procession wore blue saya and white veils made by local couturiers. The virgin is usually put under neoclassic arches, called kubol. Young men in barong Tagalog fetch and escort the girls in long gowns towards the church. Today, the celebration is combined with the traditional Santakruzan.

Halamanan Festival
Date Jan 23
Venue Guiguinto, Bulacan
Description Coinciding with the Guiguinto Foundation day on January 23, the Halamanan Festival is marked with merriment as the members of the town's Garden City Association exhibits the talents and skills of Guiguintenoes in the art of gardening i.e. landscaping, seedling propagation, plant growing, flower cutting and arrangements, ornamentals and interior decoration including landscaping (waterfalls, rock garden, boulders and the like). The town is now known as the Garden Capital of the Philippines. Contact Person Eleonor Abuso Tel. No. (63 44) 794-1823/0543

Horse Festival
Date Dec 29 - 30
Venue Plaridel, Bulacan
Description A herd of horses with colorful tilburies parading in the streets of Plaridel in reverence to St. James the Apostle. Santiago Apostol is sometimes called El Matamoros (Muslim Slayer). His iconography is a fierce sword-brandishing man, mounted on a horse and slaying turbaned men. This is because the Spaniards under the command of Don Pelagio narrowly defeated the Saracens in the Battle of Cavadonga in 718 A.D. They say that it was the apparition of St. James that reversed the tide. The leitmotif of these festivals in honor of St. James is, therefore, the horse. Contact Person Divina Quetua (Provincial Tourism Officer) Tel. No. (63 44) 662-7635/791-7335

Lenten Procession
Date Holy Wednesday and Good Friday
Venue Baliuag, Bulacan
Description A lavish display of religious fervor that only the people of Baliuag can manifest in a hundred richly adorned giant carozas depicting the passion and death of Jesus Christ. It is held every Holy Wednesday and Good Friday. The procession starts at 5:00 in the afternoon. Contact Person Rosie Bautista Tel. No. (63 44) 767-2538

Date December 16-24
Venue Nationwide
Lubenas is a unique and quaint tradition where a procession of lit lanterns is held for the nine consecutive nights before Christmas (December 16-24), which is also the same period for the simbang gabi (dawn mass). The reason people do the lubenas is the same reason they do the simbang gabi - to mortify the flesh in preparation for the nativity of Christ. Itís no easy task, after all, to stay up late for the lubenas and then wake up early for the simbang bengi. (Our Kapampangan ancestors learned this from their strict Spanish cura parroco.) Source: Robby Tantingco, Center for Kapampanga Studies, Holy Angel University, Angeles City

Misa de Gallo (Dawn Mass)
Date Dec 16 - 24
Venue Nationwide, N/A
Description The smell of charcoal-baked bibingka and puto bumbong (traditional rice cakes) ushers in the celebration of the Dawn Mass or Misa de Gallo when Catholics all over the country wake up at dawn, dressed in their finest, and flock to the church to hear mass on the first day of a 9-day novena which culminates on Christmas eve. With church bells ringing at 4:00 a.m. on December 16, the whole country officially starts the world's longest Christmas season with a Misa de Gallo which literally means "Mass of the Rooster." It was said to have been introduced in the country by a Spanish friar in the 18th century as thanksgiving Mass for a bountiful harvest. The Mass was held at dawn so to allow farmers to go to work after the ceremony. The priest also scheduled the end of the novena to coincide with the "Noche Buena" celebration during Christmas eve. In earlier days, a brass band played Christmas music around town while priests knocked on doors to wake up the faithful in time for Mass. Today, while still called dawn Mass, the rite has undergone changes and sometimes even held at night. Of course, the tradition is not complete without the feast of native delicacies, such as charcoal-baked bibingka (rice cake), puto bumbong and salabat (ginger tea), that can be bought from stalls that usually line church courtyards. The tradition is a significant moment not only because it strengthens relationships among family members but also because it is the time where faith is intensified (Source: Phil. Daily Inquirer, Dec 17, 2004 issue). RELATED INFORMATION: In Mabalacat, Pampanga, the parish choir still performs the so-called pastorella, a colonial-era collection of church hymns sung only during this time of the year - all performed with violins and operatic flourish. It is said that Mabalacat is the only place where they keep the pastorella alive.

Date Holy Week
Venue Nationwide, N/A
Description Everyday during Holy Week until Maundy Thursday, groups of old women and a scattering of men and younger people gather to sing the life story of Jesus Christ - as read from an ancient book called 'Pasyong Genesis' - in makeshift altar built in the town's side streets or in private homes or village chapel. The devout among the participants in this melodic vernacular chanting are there to fulfill a vow like the quick recovery of a sick or ailing relative. The singing is paced so that the entire book is read out by Maundy Thursday. The book narrates in verse form the story of Chirst from nativity to His crucifixion and resurrection. In addition, it contains some stories from the Bible, such as the creation of the world (or genesis), the deluge, and the apocalypse. The churches then take over with the rendering of the Seven Last Words on Good Friday. The hermana mayor, the sponsor of the Pabasa, may serve more than snacks to those who have participated in the ritual and brought in the blessing of the Lord(Credits: Filipino Heritage: The Making of a Nation).

Date Holy Week
Venue Nationwide, N/A
Description During Holy Week, the streets are alive with people who demonstrate their vows of repentance, or 'panata'. There are different ways of keeping this vow. Some take part in the Sinakulo, a theatrical dramatization of Christ's passion translated from Spanish passion plays into the vernacular. Others go through self-flagellation. These are the flagellantes who have promised to go through this ordeal to repent for their sins, or as a sacrificial act in thanksgiving for a favor granted or favor requested. Another form of penitence is having oneself hung from the cross. In some places like in Brgy. San Pedro Cutud, City of San Fernando, Pampanga, some persons are actually nailed to the cross. The penitent usually lives through this ordeal, but many of them lose consciousness from excruciating pain. Others are simply tied to the cross (Credits: Filway's Philippine Almanac).

Date Easter Sunday
Venue Nationwide, N/A
Description Usually held after the 5:00 a.m. mass, just about the crack of dawn of Easter Sunday, or a day before, two processions leave the church and converge at a central point marked by a huge four-posted roof with a vertical clearance of about three meters, called the 'galilea'. In a procession called 'pasko ng salubong', the meeting of the Risen Christ and His mother on Easter morning is dramatized. The moment when Christ meets His mother is called 'pagbati.' At the center of the galilea, right above the point where the images are to meet, is a huge heart of flowers with four opening points. Inside is a pretty little girl dressed as an angel who will then perform the traditional unveiling of the Blessed Mother, symbolizing the end of her mourning as she stands face to face with the Risen Christ. The festivity usually culminates in a colorful fireworks display. (Credits: Filway's Philippine Almanac)

Semana Santa (Holy Week)
Date Holy Week
Venue Nationwide, N/A
Description A week-long event honoring Jesus Christ's death on the Cross. The Palm Sunday is held on the fifth Sunday of Lent where churchgoers bring palm and leaves to re-enact the arrival of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem. Holy Thursday is held with a Visita Iglesia where Catholics visit at least 7 churches. A "Pasyon" or narration of Christ's life through singing is held. On Good Friday, believers re-enact the sufferings and death of Christ on the Cross. Easter Sunday is highlighted by "Salubong" or dawn processions held in various parts of the country. (Credits: NCCA) In colorful and dramatic rituals, Catholic Filipinos join the entire Christendom in the observance of Holy Week, or Semana Santa. Some of the rituals bear touches of Spanish and Mexican influences and are espoused by the church; some seem to be rooted in the deep, fanatical, and traditional fervor of the penitent to atone for their sins. Although the basic rituals are practiced all over the archipelago, variations do occur depending on the parish, town, or people concerned. Some of the rituals include: Kumpisal ng Bayan (confession of the town), Palaspas (Palm Sunday), Pabasa (chanting of Christ's passion), Via Dolorosa (procession of holy images), Via Crucis (Way of the Cross), Visita Iglesia (church visit), and Paghuhugas (Washing of the Apostles' Feet). (Credits: Filway's Philippine Almanac)

Date Holy Week
Venue Nationwide, N/A
Description The Sinakulo, as a Lenten play of the life, passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, took root in the first decade of the 18th century during Spanish occupation. The play is actually nothing but a dramatization of the Pabasa, characterized only by long stretches of dialogue between Christ, Mary and other important characters. It is usually staged from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday in many barrios in makeshift platforms (today it is held on Holy Monday to Maundy Thursday). It originally opens with the creation of the world and ending with the triumphant coronation of the Virgin in heaven - as culled from the book called Pasyong Genesis. A shorter version features the agony of Christ in the garden to the crucifixion.

Via Crucis
Date Good Friday
Venue Nationwide, N/A
Description The parish is divided into areas called 'purok' and the Way of the Cross is enacted in each purok on Good Friday. A purok leader selects the houses which will each host a station of the cross, and the people stop at each station to pray and be one with Christ along the way. (Credits: Filway's Philippine Almanac)


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