Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Week to Remember

This Holy Week, the girls experienced Lent with all their senses. It was tiring, even though we spread out the visita iglesia and drove, instead of walked to 7 different churches in 4 days. At the beginning of the week, already there were signs of the color and sounds that would bombard them.

Parked near the municipal hall, this Birhen Dolorosa took shelter to avoid the sweltering heat and slight drizzle.

Church grounds were filled with all sorts of construction in progress, in preparation for the senakulo on Good Friday or salubong on Easter Sunday. (Our Lady of the Abandoned, San Roque)

In imitation of the other pilgrims, the girls have learned to reach out and touch statues and icons, as they pray at each church. (National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Baclaran)

A dress code poster has become a familiar sight, as well as information about the Reproductive Health Bill. In this country of "texters", mobile phones get its own poster.

But business goes on inside the churches, already filled with pilgrims following the Way of the Cross. Members of the Mother Butler Guild can be seen sweeping around the altars; carpenters and painters are working on various beautification projects; helpers drape statues and other images in purple fabric. Fortunately, we were able to visit (the exposed image) of our Blessed Virgin of Antipolo, whom we also visit in her Washington, DC oratory at the National Shrine. (Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, Antipolo)

For sentimental reasons, and because we also celebrate this saint's feast day as our name day, we went to the all-steel San Sebastian Church. The girls lit candles and went down their prayer list to remember their Papa, their little cousin Marissa, and their Italian great-grandmother Jill. (Basilica of San Sebastian, Manila)

All that driving around is bound to bring us to places that trigger fond memories for Anda and Papo. On our way to the Benedictine Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat, we posed in front of the university that Marissa's grandmother attended. (This one's for you, Tita Femme!)

In this predominantly Catholic country, Masses are celebrated inside shopping malls. It was no surprise that the owners of the largest shopping mall in the Philippines (and the third largest in the world) donated land and built a church near their Mall of Asia. The mall, as most estalishments, were closed on Good Friday. But the church was filled with pilgrims. (Shrine of Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Manila)

Most Filipino celebrations come with processions, lights, and songs, and if the girls' humming is any indication, some of the week's highlights have filtered through their being. It may have been a long and tiring week for the girls, with rarely a day spent at home for relaxing. But in the quiet that they'll find in VA, their senses will remember. (St. Paul of the Cross, Marikina; Maundy Thursday procession, Marikina)

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