Metro Manila · Easter Holidays (March 20 - March 27)
Due to the strong Catholic belief in the country, Easter is a very important date throughout the Megacity. It is an exciting time in Manila, with lots of religious events and procedures to be attended, and many family events and commercial happenings taking place at the same time.
Mass, Processions, and Easter Egg Hunts
The Lenten Season starts with Ash Wednesday, when you can see many Catholics with a cross-shaped ash on their foreheads as a sign that they attended the mass. Catholic schools pause the class for one mass and have the students get their cross-shaped ash on their foreheads. It is not meant to be rubbed off until it is gone in a natural way.
Holy Week itself begins with Palm Sunday (March 20, 2016), when a lot of Filipinos go to mass with palaspas (palm fronds) and raise them when the priest is ready to sprinkle holy water over the crowd. Most people won’t go home before they feel the drops of the holy water on their skin. Then they will place the palaspas outside their front door.
For the rest of the week, Catholics eat only fish, some undergo liquid diet or some other kind of fast (e.g. abstaining from electronic gadgets). Local television and radio stations change their usual running shows to religious themes. Many businesses are closed during this week so it is advisable to stock some food and drinks. This season is the longest holiday in the Philippines so if you have urgent documents that need to be processed, do them before the Holy Week starts.
Maundy Thursday (March 24, 2016) commemorates the foot washing and last supper of Jesus with his apostles on the evening before his crucifixion. Faithful Filipinos visit seven churches or more on this day to meditate on the stations of the cross.
Good Friday (March 25, 2016) commemorates the crucifixion and death of Christ. Processions and Passion plays take place in every town and village. Some attendants whip their backs in an attempt to feel what Jesus experienced on that day. Some even crucify themselves with nails or ropes and hang from the cross.
Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are regular holidays and most shopping malls and other establishments are closed. You can usually check their operating hours for Holy Week on their respective Facebook pages or websites. Black Saturday (March 26, 2016) is a special non-working holiday.
Easter Sunday (March 27, 2016) starts with salubong, an early morning ceremony that re-enacts the reunion of Jesus and his mother after his resurrection. Some provinces have the prettiest child in town to dress up as cherubim. She will come down from above to lift the veil from the Virgin Mary and the happy crowd will cheer and throw flowers.
Young folks also like to take the Easter weekend as an occasion to go to the beach and enjoy a prolonged vacation.