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WATCH: Pre-COVID Holy Week Traditions, Explained

Remembering the old normal of Semana Santa.
by Ara Eugenio
Apr 1, 2021
Photo/s: Dennis Lucem and Gabe Pagulayan

Half a millennium ago, the Spaniards came to the Philippines and brought Christianity that to this day continues to influence the lives of millions. Take the observance of Holy Week, with its many traditions that celebrate the passion of Jesus Christ.

Semana Santa adds richness to the Philippines culture. Not even previous epidemics could stop its pervasiveness before, until last year when the COVID-19 pandemic happened.

This year, as the Catholic churches attempt to hold stripped down observances of such traditions, this #SummitOriginals video remembers in detail how they used to be celebrated. 

Palm Sunday

Also called passion Sunday, it's a celebration where people wave their palaspas or palm leaves to be blessed by the priest. This marks the time Jesus entered Jerusalem with his disciples.


Senakulo is a live play depicting Pasyón, the story of Jesus Christ's life and passion from when he was born up to his death and resurrection. The world "senakulo" was derived from the Spanish word cenaculo or cenacle, which means "the place where Jesus Christ celebrated the last supper with his disciples." 

Continue reading below ↓

Lenten Kubol or Kalbaryo

Kalbaryo or in english, "calvary" is a sculptured representation of Jesus Christ's crucifixion. Here, Catholics create a makeshift kubol (booth) to put up an altar for their Pabasa. Kalbaryo evolved over time with people adding their creative touch to it.  


What are the Origins of Lent?

Holy Week 2021: Livestream Guide for Church Services

Pabasa ng Pasyon 

Pabasa is a famous practice that involves an uninterrupted singing or chanting of the Pasyon, the early 16th century epic point narrating the life, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. 

Visita Iglesia

Usually held during Maundry Thursday or Good Friday, it is the most common tradition during Holy Week that dates back to 1500s when Catholics visit at least seven churches to recite the stations of the cross.

Stations of the Cross

The Way of the Cross, more commonly knowns as the Stations of the Cross or Via Crucis, refers to a series of images that illustrate the day Jesus Christ was crucified and is accompanied by prayers.

Continue reading below ↓
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Holy Week Procession

The Holy Week procession is a ritual march that carries various images of saints, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus Christ. These images are carried by men and women while barefoot as an act of penance. During this march, flowers and candles are offered.


Salubong marks the end of Lenten Season. It is celebrated during the dawn of Eastern Sunday, considered as the biggest event for Christians, to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This shows the image of Jesus Christ and Mother Mary reunited, while children dressed as angels sing in joy. 

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