Have nothing to do this Holy Week in Manila? Go to the literally hottest event in the country on Good Friday.
In Cutud, Pampanga, crazy diehard penitents (okay, they’re not crazy, but I think they are) crucify themselves to a cross with nails and all. I’ve never seen it, but I’m thinking about going there this Friday. This is all done in the blazing afternoon sun at 3:00 pm. Cutud is near or in the capital San Fernando City in Pampanga (not to be confused with San Fernando City in La Union.)
Though very extreme, this is not as mad as the devotion to the Black Nazarene, every January 9, in Quiapo. There without fail people get injured if not killed. Why the Catholic church doesn’t officially just disown the damn event, is well, very old school Catholicky to me.
Another worthwhile event (which I’ve never been to) is the Ati-Atihan in Kalibo, Aklan also in January. Here people paint themselves in black, wear flamboyant costumes made from painted leaves of coconut trees (pretty nice actually) and dance in the streets in a wild rumpus of whistles, banging drums and other clanging noises. It’s kinda like a Mardi Gras in the Philippines. Kinda. I’d like to see it someday.
There is also Sinulog in Cebu. All I’ve heard about this though is that it causes a major traffic jam in Cebu. But I’ve never been, so I have no authentic opinion on this.
I’ve been to the MassKara in Bacolod, but I’ve yet to be sold on this one. Also the Panabenga in Baguio city.
Another event I would love to go to is the Parada of the Lechons (Parade of the Roast Pigs) in Balayan Batangas every June 24. Considering Anthony Bourdain said we have the best roast pig in the world, it makes sense we honor them (though we kinda knew our roast pig ruled, but it’s good to get outside confirmation). So this Parada of Lechons can be counted as a religious experience, lol. What’s awesome also is that it gets to become a great big water fight. Always fun. And water conservationists don’t be alarmed. June is already the rainy season in that part of the Philippines.
On May 15, every year, in Lucban, Quezon province, they celebrate the Pahiyas festival. One street a year is covered in leaves made of colored rice paper and the bedeck the roofs, eaves, awnings, and walls of every house. It’s a photographer’s dream. Again never been to this one, but no reason why I can’t write about it.