We begin our Holy Week in the Philippines with the combined celebration of Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday. It's 91 degrees but it feels like 102, and the church (without AC) is packed. Unfortunately for the girls, the Mass is in Tagalog, and even with the help of their MagnifiKid magazine, (Thanks for sending it, Papa!) the drone of a language foreign to their ears only adds to their drowsiness. But there were enough new experiences to make today memorable.
First, we had to buy the palms! They are weaved in different designs, and this little girl got to pick one with a ribbon that matched her dress.
Being early helped, and not only is she armed with a fan, she got to pick a spot in front of two electric fans.
Then it was time to approach the priest for the blessing of the palms. Parishioners wave their palaspas in unison, mimicking the Jews welcoming Jesus.
There was an abundance of holy water, and one girl, who got splashed full blast, takes refuge. But the prospect of strawberry ice cream after lunch assuages her feelings of embarrassment. After all, it is a Sunday, which is not a day of penitence, and can only mean treats!
Holy Week will be still be filled with activities -- mostly a spread-out Visita Iglesia (Visit of the Churches) traditionally observed on Maundy Thursday. Fortunately, history lessons here often touch on the spread of Catholic Christianity, and we can continue with the cultural immersion as we visit the historic churches in Manila.
But we bring a little of our own Holy Week practices here, and have decorated our bulletin board with framed prayer cards and bookmarks, projects from our Little Flower Girls Club, to help us remember what the coming week means.