Church Life in the Philippines by Nancy Floro
The Philippines is known as one of the two predominantly Catholic Christian countries in Asia ( the other is East Timor). Most likely, Filipinos became religious in the 15th Century when the Spanish Explorers and Colonists arrived in the Philippines to spread Catholicism.
Our Culture and Traditions are undeniably famous in the four corners of the world. In observance of our Lenten Season in the Land, we have our old religious practices in commemorating the Passions of our Lord Jesus Christ. Fasting, visiting catholic churches (known as Visita Iglesia), and doing penitence by flagging ( locally called Penitensya), are among known traditions of devout Catholics observed during the the Lenten season. The Golden Brains United Seniors’ Citizens Association Inc., the group in which I belong, have done this so called Visita Iglesia last Palm Sunday to Pray and Reflect the redeeming grace of our Lord Jesus during our visit. Holy Week for me is the time to commemorate the great act of love that Jesus did for us! This is also the time to ask for forgiveness for our sins and to forgive others and to turn back to God. Holy Week is not just to show off your photos of different churches you visited, show your holy week adventure or your simple out of town escapade but to show to the World that our Lord Jesus is alive, that He is our Savior and Redeemer!
We have visited over seven historical Churches from the North Province . In every Church, we offered two Station of the Cross . Among those seven historical Churches that we paid our visits were: San Pedro Apostles in Tungko, Novaliches; Mother Eucharist in San Vicente, Bulacan; San Isidro Labrador in Pulilan, Bulacan; San Rafael Church Parish in San Rafael Bulacan: Divine Mercy National Shrine in Marilao, Bulacan-( building of the tallest Sculpture of Divine Mercy all over the World is on-going); and our last journey of our Visita Iglesia was the Three Kings Parish and Shrine of Divina Pastora in Gapan Nueva Ecija, the hometown of our Golden Brain Pres. Elpy Zabat.
In observance of our family religious tradition, we do our Fasting on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. This means no pork and lean meat totally for us and sacrificing not to indulge in personal habits like smoking, drinking wine, and not even performing the heavy tasks at home, like laundering and ironing .
And on Good Friday, majority of catholic devotees go to Quiapo Church. I consider this church as my special and favorite church, for in this church I felt the abundant blessings of Black Nazarene on me, as most of my prayers and my wishes are gracefully granted by our heavenly Father God ! In our community , we have a replica of the Black Nazarene and we named Him Senior Ambong. There are also many devotees in our Barangay in which I am a member too. We usually bring our Senior Ambong to Quiapo Church to be blessed every Holy Thursday, and by performing sacrificial walking for almost two and a half hour in going to Quiapo, then back to our community .
While other Filipinos go out to the beach or pools for swimming and picnics on Glorious Saturday and Easter Sunday , these days are sacred days for us, reserved for meditating and reflecting!
May the Blessings of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of us on this Lenten Season and beyond! God Bless Everyone!
By Nancy Floro