Best Places to Experience Holy Week in the Philippines

Holy Week need not be boring, especially if you visit these places. Reflecting on the passion and death of Christ can be done even if you’re not in the confines of your home.

Via Crucis in Marinduque
It’s great to witness the Via Crucis in Marinduque although this is not really for the faint hearted.


Marinduque is a small heart-shaped island in the Southern Tagalog, which, coincidentally, is also in the center of the Philippines.

Dubbed the “Lent Capital of the Philippines“, Marinduque welcomes thousands of tourists during the Lenten holidays to experience religion and culture at the same time.

On the first week of Lent, which usually starts on Holy Monday, Morions or the masked Roman soldiers can already be seen roaming around the streets of Marinduque, or Boac, its town capital. Tourists are also welcomed by the Morions at the Balanacan Port in Marinduque to give an instant feel of the province’s Moriones Festival.

Moriones Festival
Morions can be seen walking the streets of Boac one week before Holy Week

The Senakulo, a Lenten play that depicts the life, suffering, and death of Christ, starts staging on the evening of Holy Wednesday. The Via Crucis or the Way of the Cross starts on the early morning of Good Friday. You have the option to go along with Christ, the other penitents, and Morions, or simply watch–though it is highly suggested that you go with the Way of the Cross so you can also internalize Christ’s suffering and just consider it as another form of penitence.

The Via Crucis usually starts between 7:00AM and 8:00AM and ends with a “crucifixion” before lunch.

This Senakulo scene depicts the “Last Supper”.

The Senakulo ends on the midnight of Easter Sunday and with the most anticipated presentation of all, since the resurrection of Christ will be staged. Early morning of Sunday, most people run to the beach as a sign of celebration for the risen Christ. Easter Sunday is usually the time where tourists usually head back to Manila or wherever they came from so I highly suggest you avoid the high influx of people leaving the province and spend at least a day or two in the island to check out other sites it has to offer.

When in Marinduque during Holy Week, be sure to take some snapshots of its famed Moriones Festival. Take a pose with some Morions or, specifically, look for the Morion Longinus. He’s easy to spot–he’s blind on one eye and is the most famous Morion off all. Read the Bible or, better yet, listen and watch the Senakulo carefully to know why.

  • Planning to visit Marinduque soon and curious what else is there to do in this little island, CHECK out my MARINDUQUE TRAVEL GUIDE.


San Pedro, Cutud, Pampanga

The Cutud Lenten Rites is famous for the re-enactment of Christ’s crucifixion, with the actual nailing of people on a wooden cross. Tourists and foreign media flock to Cutud just to witness the street play, thus, turning what is supposed to be a solemn religious celebration a highly commercialized one. Just a word of caution though: this is not for the faint-hearted. If the mere sight of blood makes you queasy and nauseous, then better not go here.


Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

However, if you are into photojournalism, then going to Cutud is an experience not to miss. The event has a VIP area for media and photographers so taking photos won’t be a problem. Just be sure that you can endure the heat of the sun.

Aside from the crucifixion, flagellants, also known locally as “magdarame”, walk barefoot around the town and whip their backs with a bundle of bamboo sticks at the end of a rope and use razor blades to cut their swollen backs so blood can come out.



Since most people head to their respective provinces during Holy Week, traveling around Metro Manila goodfriday in quiapoduring Good Friday is always a breeze. In fact, Visita Iglesia in Manila has always been a tradition among Catholics who choose to spend Lent in Manila, and the Quiapo Church is probably one of the favorite churches among pilgrims.

During Good Friday, Black Nazarene devotees flock to Quiapo Church for the Black Nazarene procession, which usually starts as early as 5:30 AM. Various Black Nazarene replicas are also paraded along the streets of Quiapo while devotees go barefoot in imitation of Jesus on his way to Mount Calvary.

There have been various accounts of people who have touched the Black Nazarene are reported to have been cured of their diseases. Thus, like the actual Black Nazarene feast on January 9, towels and handkerchiefs are also hurled to the marshals and escorts guarding the Black Nazarene, requesting their cloths to be wiped to the statue in hope for a miracle.

Nearby churches that can also be included in your Visita Iglesia itinerary are the Malate Church, Binondo Church, Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church, Santa Cruz Church, and San Sebastian Church.

On the other hand, the usual rowdy and busy Escolta and Delpan suddenly transform into peaceful streets during Good Friday–a perfect time for photojournalists to capture this very rare quiet moment in Manila through their lenses.


Balaan Bukid Shrine, Guimaras

If you love outdoor activities, then trekking to Balaan Bukid Summit in Jordan, Guimaras is the best activity for you this coming Holy Week. Balaan Bukid, which means “Sacred Mountain” in the Hiligaynon dialect of Panay, is a pilgrimage site of Catholic devotees that sits on top of the mountain.

balaanbukidAt the summit of Balaan Bukid is the Ave Maria Purisima Shrine, where a chapel is marked by a huge, white cross. It is hard not to miss this large cross when you’re coming from Iloilo to Guimaras. Climbing Balaan Bukid is free of charge but be sure to bring lots of water to keep you hydrated, and put on some sunblock before climbing as the trek will take 45 minutes. On your way up, be sure to take note of the 14 Stations of the Cross.

Also, a local version of the Passion of Christ, called “Ang Pagtaltal sa Guimaras”, is performed during the Lenten Season. In 2009, a new kind of Christ’s Passion and Death on the Cross was experienced by the Guimarasnons and tourists as the stage play inspired by the Seven Last Words was transformed into a street play dubbed “Ang Pagtaltal sa Balaan Bukid.” “Ang Pagtaltal sa Guimaras” was once called as the “Golgotha of the Philippines.


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