My grandmother or “lola” used to stay with us, so I basically grew up being taught with the things she believed in – Catholicism mixed with old Filipino beliefs.
I still remember being dragged by my lola to all the church services she attended to during Holy Week. I was with her when she prepared all those coconut leaves crucifixes for Palm Sundays, although I never learned how to make those. I was with her at the choir benches during The Last Supper masses. On Good Friday morning, I helped her prepare binignit (warm root crop and fruit stew). In the afternoon, I was with her participating in the pabasa.
When she went to live with my aunt in Cebu, those traditions stayed with us. If we don’t participate in the pabasa, then we turn on our radio to hear it. I grew up expecting to see The Ten Commandments or old Filipino movies or dramas showcasing moral values on TV from Holy Thursday to Black Saturday. We strictly didn’t eat red meat and no upbeat music can be heard anywhere. It was either our neighbors were also listening to the pabasa, or just deafening silence. I got to experience this until my college days as I didn’t take any summer class.
Then I went to Japan where the Holy Week is just like any ordinary week. Although I tried to do abstinence and more time for prayer and meditation.
When I came to Singapore, I was a bit surprised that there are many Catholic Churches and Good Friday is a public holiday! I managed to attend church services on Holy Week, but this year, I feel that I failed. For one, I just ate red meat because it’s what I only have in the ref and I am too lazy to go out.
I am not saying that every Catholic has to do what my grandmother usually does on Holy Week. I respect each person’s beliefs. But this was how I was brought up and I feel uneasy if I don’t follow what I used to do. It’s just hard if you are trying to do it all alone.
Maybe I should go home during the Holy Week next year.