By Atty. Gilberto Lauengco, J.D.

Random Holy Week thoughts and memories

“Unless there is a Good Friday to your life, there can be no Easter Sunday” – Ven. Fulton Sheen

This week, we have our annual Holy Week non-working days plus one (aside from Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Black Saturday and Easter, we get Monday off, too). It is one of the longest Holy Week breaks in recent history.

As the Holy Week begins, most work-related activities are put on hold. Our fast-paced lives suddenly grind to a halt and we get to reflect and entertain random thoughts and memories.

Palm Sunday commemorates the day when Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of Passover. For Filipino Catholics, it is the day of the palm fronds or “palaspas”. I often see churchgoers jockeying for position before or after Mass to ensure that their palm fronds get properly blessed with holy water. Over the years, our “palaspas” have gone beyond being just religious symbols to works of art. I have always loved the sight of these decorated palm fronds being raised at the same time during Palm Sundays. Growing up, I remember my aunts telling me to hang these blessed palm fronds to ward off evil spirits and to keep one as a handy weapon for evil-enchanted creatures.

Holy Wednesday -- According to reports, millions of Filipinos will be flooding the airports, bus terminals and ports on this day. Authorities also expect that all roads going out of Metro Manila will be filled with thousands of vehicles. The annual exodus has begun.

Maundy Thursday -- When I was in grade school, a teacher asked me why we sometimes call Holy Thursday “Maundy Thursday”. Not having studied the assignment that day, I said it was because like the ordinary Monday, it heralded the start of sadness and sorrow. It was only later that I learned that the word Maundy came from the Latin word ‘mandatum’ or ‘command’ which refers to the instructions Jesus gave his disciples at the Last Supper.

Good Friday -- When I was a kid, I always wondered why Good Friday was called “Good”. I asked an aunt what was “good” about the day Jesus Christ was crucified. I reasoned that it should actually be called “Bad Friday”. My aunt called me “pilosopo” and instructed me to reflect on my irreverence and pray. My aunt was a nun and the principal of an all-girl school and I did not want to get on her bad side so I never asked that question again.

As kids, we were always told that we were not allowed to swim, take a bath, make noises or do anything enjoyable on Good Fridays. I always wondered why we went to the beach on Holy Week only to spend one day just staring quietly at the beach. Then one Good Friday, an older cousin ignored the rules and swam on that day. I can never forget the sight of my cousin giggling (I think he was drunk) as he came out of the water with a smack of black jellyfish attached all over his body. To this day, I refuse to go near a beach on Good Friday.

Black Saturday -- We have always been told that Holy Saturday was still a day of mourning. It commemorates the day Jesus Christ was laid in his tomb after his death by crucifixion, hence, the word black. We were allowed to swim on Black Saturday but we were supposed to do it quietly. One summer during the 80’s I was shocked to see an establishment in Baguio City hold a Black Saturday Disco night.

Easter Sunday -- My cousins and I used to have Easter egg hunts at our Tita’s place. I have always wondered what happened to the eggs we never found. Unfortunately, we have a worldwide shortage of eggs. Can we still afford to hide eggs?

One of the most memorable Easter Mass for me was a Mass I attended with many of my relatives in a makeshift chapel in front of a beach. It was 4 in the morning, and my cousins and I were all huddled together with towels draped over our shoulders. I remember the cool breeze and the sound of waves crashing on the shore as we said our prayers. It was the last time we were all together on an Easter Sunday.

People spend Holy Week in different ways. Other than the religious significance for us Catholics, the Holy Week is also about family and memories that will last a lifetime.

This is my oblique observation.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Presidential Communications Office.


About the Columnist

Image of Atty. Gilberto Lauengco, J.D.

ATTY. GILBERTO LAUENGCO, J.D. is a lawyer, educator, political strategist, government consultant, Lego enthusiast, and the director of CAER Think Tank. He is a Former Vice Chairman of MECO, Special Assistant of NFA and City Administrator among others. His broad experience has molded his unique approach to issues analysis which he calls the oblique observation.