How do we celebrate Holy Week in the Philippines?

How do we celebrate Holy Week in the Philippines?

An Introduction to Holy Week:

Holy Week is a celebration in the Philippines that includes worship, solemn reflection and religious activities for many Filipinos. This is the country’s biggest and most significant cultural celebration, where people of all faiths come together to celebrate the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Church has a vast sociopolitical influence in the Philippines because it is a predominantly Catholic country. The Catholic customs, pre-colonial principles, and Spanish cultural influences are all mixed during Holy Week. Beginning on Palm Sunday and concluding on Easter Sunday, it lasts a whole week. Many businesses and offices close this week, and the streets are filled with processions, religious events, and other activities.

What are the traditional celebrations?

Filipinos are known to be religious and to be family-oriented. It is a predominantly Catholic nation, with most of the population registered as Catholics, as Holy Week is celebrated through several rituals and customs. To highlight one of the distinctive customs here in the Philippines is the practice of “self-flagellation” Some Filipino Catholics participate in a procession where they use bamboo sticks or other instruments to whip themselves as a form of penance. While this practice isn’t widely endorsed by the Catholic Church and is discouraged by some, it continues to be an essential part of the Holy Week tradition in the country.
The Visita Iglesia, the Pabasa, and the Black Nazarene Parade are examples of such traditions. This year, Palm Sunday falls on the 24th of March, when Holy Week traditions begin. But the actual Holy Week consists of the following days:
  • Holy Monday
  • Tuesday after Easter
  • Holy Wednesday
  • Maundy Thursday
  • Good Friday
  • Black Saturday
  • Sunday after Easter
Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are non-working holidays for Catholic families to observe solemn religious practices. By Easter Sunday, Catholics commemorate Jesus Christ’s resurrection by performing a Salubong ritual. In one procession, men will carry the statue of the Risen Christ, while mourning women in black veils will follow the picture of the Virgin Mary until the two processions meet in one place.

What are the more modern celebrations?

In a more modern way, contemporary families are coming up with creative ways to commemorate this significant occasion. Families can gather and spend quality time thinking about their beliefs and spirituality by planning family reunions, vacations, or religious retreats. Businesses and organisations are also coming up with creative ways to celebrate Holy Week in addition to families. Promoting social responsibility and sustainable tourist practices, for instance, is carried out through charity events and eco-tourism programs.

Where to celebrate Holy Week in 2023?

La Union:

La Union in Northern Luzon is home to many sacred sites for Holy Week pilgrims. To begin the day, pay a visit to one of La Union’s seven churches, which are known among locals and tourists alike:

  • Church of St. John the Baptist
  • St. Michael the Archangel Church
  • Cathedral of Saint William the Hermit
  • Our Lady of Namacpacan Shrine and Saint Catherine of Alexandria Parish
  • Our Lady of Charity Minor Basilica
  • Church of San Nicolas de Tolentino
  • Ruins of Pindangan


Pangasinan is home to the well-known Our Lady of Manaoag. It is famous not only among Luzon residents but also among visitors to Metro Manila. Whether it’s Holy Week or a regular weekend, the Manaoag church is packed with pilgrims hoping for good health and safety for the entire family. It is also customary for new car owners to visit this church to have their vehicles blessed.


What better place to celebrate Semana Santa in the Philippines than Iloilo, the City of Love? Many of us would agree that love is not limited to romantic relationships but can also be celebrated with family and practised as God’s love. Iloilo also has classic and centuries-old churches, such as the Miagao Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Zamboanga del Sur:

Zamboanga del Sur in Mindanao is ideal for observing the Holy Week tradition. It is home to the Pulong Bato in Abong Abong Park in Zamboanga City, where 14 stations of the cross lie numinously for the thousands of visitors to whisper their solemn prayers and take a rest before proceeding near the apex of Mount Columbato, where the Holy Cross is located.


The “Melting Pot” of Central Luzon is an ideal Holy Week destination. The 30-foot giant statue of the Risen Christ blesses the province and its pilgrims at Monasterio de Tarlac in San Jose town. Another destination is the town of Bamban, which has a “Holy Land” with life-size depictions of the mysteries of the Holy Rosary and several Bible verses.

How do BPO Companies like Acxelsus support their employees?

In recent years, outsourcing has become a significant part of the Philippine economy. Since most of our clients are in different time zones, we need to make a way to recognise the importance of this holiday to our employees while providing continued service to our dear clients. Acxelsus adjusts its operations accordingly to allow its employees to take time off during the week to participate in religious activities and spend time with their families. The company also supports those who wish to participate in processions and other religious events.

What can we learn from Holy Week?

Overall, Holy Week is an important time for Filipinos, and it is also a time when companies like Acxelsus show their support for the country’s culture and traditions. By allowing its employees to participate in the celebration fully and supporting those who choose to do so, Acxelsus demonstrates its commitment to the well-being of its employees and the community it serves. We encourage you, the readers, to experience Holy Week in the lovely country of the Philippines and show support for local businesses and communities. By doing this, we can all support economic growth and sustainability while preserving this nation’s distinctive culture and traditions.