*The Philippines is a highly religious country with Catholic roots seeding deep into the culture of this beautiful country. Every year, the Holy Week traditions turn the bustling streets of Manila into a ghost town as most businesses close shop and many locals travel back home to their proivnces or head out on vacation. If you happen to be in Manila for this quiet holy week, here’s what our contributor Shayla Sanchez recommends you check out for Holy Week in Manila Philippines.
When in Manila for the Holy Week and everyone else has gone on their vacations in far off places and you don’t know what to do in the metro,you might want to try the walkway: reflections on the stations of the cross at the bonifacio high street that was set up by Church simplified.
When I first heard about this walkway last year, I got really curious about itand thought to give it a try (more on encouraged by someone else, really) and found myself pleasantly surprised with the whole experience. When I heard that Church simplified would be doing it again this year, I just had to go visit and surprisingly, it still got me the way it did last year.
By now some of you are probably thinking, “stations of the cross, bonifacio highstreet, huh?” Well, allow me to walk you through it.
When you arrive at the bonifacio hight street, in the lawn area, you will find 14 black-painted boards with white texts on them, the 14 boards speak about the 14 stations of the cross which most catholics are familar with. The difference isthat these stations are very interactive. They not only let you think or reflect more on the scenes leading up to the death of Christ but it lets you participate in little activities where in some specific stations, you actually get to pray for someone you don’t know, carry a wooden cross, donate a little money, and a personal favorite, walk inside a dark room only to be encouraged to finally step out into the light.
One of the stations compares two Simons in Jesus’ life, Simon Peter who denied Jesus 3 times and the simon who was a stranger but whose name is forever etched in our biblical history because he helped carry the cross of Jesus. You are then asked to reflect on the Simons of your own life and from a fishbowl filled with paper, you pick one and pray for the person who wrote in it and after doing so, write your own prayer on a separate piece of paper and drop it in the fishbowl giving someone else the opportunity to pray for you later on.
Another station asks you to pick up a black piece of cloth that represented sin only for you to nail it down later on in one of the stations,on one huge cross signifying how you will no longer let sin take over your life.
Carrying a cross doesn’t mean you know what Jesus went through when he did his final walk, but it gives you a glimpse of what it must have been like for Jesus and one station allows you to do just that. People lined up to carry a cross and walk a short distance and surprisingly,not caring that other people were looking at them and even taking their pictures. They were, for a moment, in their own world and they didn’t need to explain it.
You can walk through these stations at your own pace, the wide area and spaces in between these stations allows you to do so. Even participating in some of the activities is completely up to you. If you do need help, someone from church simplified will be there to assist you. And how would you know who they are? Well, wearing simple blackshirts with the words “Church can be simple” on the back, they’re really not that difficult to miss.
In the last part, people get to write names of people who have made a huge impact in their lives, mine are written below. The name of my parents, without whom, I wouldn’t know or understand the true meaning of this holy week.
If you’re not a Catholic or Christian, you might find the idea of the stations of the cross here at the mall to be absurd,(hey, I’m catholic and I found it odd that first time) but you could leave your hesitations or doubts in the parking lot and just read that first two or three boards, and if you’re not sold on the whole idea by then, feel free to walk away, no judgements.
There are no rules as to how the walk should affect you, so feel free to go through these stations and consider the messages that they have for you and no one else. In the end, just do yourself a favor by coming here with nothing else but an open heart and hopefully, a changed one in the end.
Holy Week in Manila:
Stations of the Cross Walkway
Bonifacio High Street