Waves crashing upon the shore. Fine sand and scattered shells. Salty ocean breeze. Clear blue waters. The scorching sun. Unfortunately, I will not experience any of these during this 5-day holiday, well, except of course the last one. The sun is always searing here in this fun tropical country whether one is on an island getaway or in the urban jungle! And that is where I am at the moment – in the city. Out of all the 7,107 islands of the Philippines, there isn’t at least one I can call my second home! So in times like this – the Holy Week – the “island” of Quezon City is where I am usually found. “Frustration” with a capital F, I say.
However, I do not want to dwell on this. I would just have to make the most of the time I have been given. Besides, I do not mind the Holy Week. I actually like the Holy Week. What is there to like about Holy Week? For starters, I am not Catholic so I am excused to do all the traditions associated with this holiday. I can eat meat. I do not have to endure participating in the Pasyon (Passion of Christ). I do not have to do any special sort of penitensya (Penitence) like abstaining from any kind of amusement or entertainment or even getting myself nailed at the cross! Then again, I do not think most modern Filipinos (especially those living in the urban areas) unfailingly follow these traditions anymore. I mean, most of the people I know are out of town, having fun at the beach or enjoying themselves in some resort. Some are even going to party in Boracay or in Camarines Sur – not exactly the things that these good Catholics are supposed to be doing at this time of the year.
Second reason why I like the Holy Week – though you might probably find this weird – is that stores, malls, shops, restaurants, markets, etc. are closed. (Years ago, it was really rare to find any of these establishments open, and unless you wanted to go hungry during this period, you really had to stock up on food and supplies. Nowadays though, some of them cater to the public even on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.) The sight of all these closed commercial areas is kind of creepy yet calming at the same time. Add to it the sight of usually jammed streets suddenly very spacious and quiet is something I find eerily nice.
In connection to reason #2, I also like the lack of TV programs and most radio stations are off the air. This may not be a “problem” now with all today’s modern technology, but when I was younger and cable TV, internet, and iPods were not yet popular, I would only be stuck watching nothing on TV but Bible – inspired movies/programs since regular TV programming was put on hold in observance of the season. One particular movie that I watched over and over again was “The Ten Commandments” with Charlton Heston! Of course, movies about the life of Jesus, as well as documentaries on pilgrimage and stories of people who had lost their way and found God were staple. As for most of the radio stations, you would only hear static.
Combine the nearly empty streets, closed shops, lack of people outside (apart from pilgrims in processions), static on the radio, and no regular TV programs equaled an almost post-apocalyptic world. Ok, that is an exaggeration, but the city still looked and felt simply weird. Despite this, it still brought a certain bizarre charm to me.
Fourth, I have an unusual tradition that I follow during Holy Week: eat lots of snacks and just watch movies after movies after movies. My mother started this “tradition” in the early 2000s, and I am just continuing it now. I, uhmm, kind of pig-out on snacks (all unhealthy, of course) and just laze around and glue myself in front of the TV, playing one DVD after the other. I’m not really a TV/movie person. This is the only time that I (over)indulge myself in such “vices.”
Fifth, I have always wanted to experience Visita Iglesia. My reason is not actually religious in nature but more of an educational one.
The Philippines has tons of Churches and being able to visit them will definitely open me to various architectural styles and history, not to mention the opportunity to travel to many interesting locations. I have not done this yet, but I hope to be able to do so in the future. (Trivia: Did you know that there used to be seven Catholic Churches in Intramuros? Pilgrims then did not need to travel to different places to complete the traditional Visita Iglesia because all seven Churches were in one place. Sadly, in 1945, the Americans showered the place with bombs to liberate Manila from the Japanese, which left Intramuros in shambles. All the Churches were reduced to heaps of ashes except for the Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church that still stand up to this day.)
So what can I do for five days besides eat, sleep, and watch TV? So far, this is my agenda.
1) Catch up on my reading! Finally finish the books I have started reading months back and I hope to begin on the ones I had bought waaaayyy back.
2) The house is crying out for some real cleaning. The house is I think harbouring some new species of mutant dust mites. Time to heed its call.
3) Get down and dirty – tend the “garden” (or that part of the house that sort of resembles it.)
4) Work on some future blog entries and write in my (real) journal.
5) Walk the dogs.
6) Try to paint something again.
7) Edit my resume.
8) Click the fucking “send application” button to the different companies to which I’m trying to apply.
I would try to get these things ticked off from my to-do list by Monday before everything goes back into its usual crazy and noisy self. For now, I will enjoy this relative hush of the world.
*for more interesting facts about the 5 other churches inside intramuros, visit ivanlakwatsero.com