[Vigan] ► How Holy Week is Celebrated in Vigan? (What You Need to Know)

THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS FROM READERS
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"Whatever level of faith and belief these people may belong to, you can't take away the fact that Good Friday is Vigan's most crowded day and Vigan's religious culture is the phoenix. The minority creeps out in oblivion—its powerlessness revealed."

[VIGAN, ILOCOS SUR, PHILIPPINES]  Growing up in a town where Holy Week turns people into passionate pilgrims and devotees, it has become usual for me to see local scenes exclusive for the Holy Week. Our town (well, politically Vigan is a city but I love calling Vigan as my 'town') transforms into a religious dream wonderland for different types of people. This is not limited to the passionate Roman Catholics who do the visita iglesia, stations of the cross and those who persistently wait for the start of the pursisyon (this is our local term for procession) who'll eventually recite prayers while they hold candles and rosaries as they walk with the carrozas that carry sculpture(s) portraying the Roman Catholic's version of the gospel.

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► HELLO! WELCOME TO VIGAN'S GOOD FRIDAY PROCESSION.


#VIGAN


I think it would be safe to say that Vigan is a major tourist destination now. But I would say tourists do not contribute a significant percentage to the Good Friday crowd because most of the people are locals. Even before Vigan became a major tourist destination, this has been the scene my bare eyes have always seen. The locals are passionate for their (our) Holy Week traditions and Vigan's ~55,000 population is composed mainly of Roman Catholics. Metro Vigan, a recognized district composed of cluster of towns adjacent to Vigan has more than 100,000 population and many Roman Catholics in this district also go to Vigan to participate.

Religion and Economy

HOLY WEEK IN VIGAN IS A DREAM wonderland of sort. It's one of the most awaited and anticipated days for most people. FOR THE PALASPAS WEAVERS

[VIGAN] ► Palaspas-Weaving, Waving: a Philippine Holy Week Culture


TEASER ▬ This is just another Filipino culture that goes in 4 ways - arts, economy, religion and tradition...

, they cash in a big amount from selling their palaspas every PALM SUNDAY

[VIGAN] ► Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday) Scenes


TEASER ▬ This is Holy Week up north. This is Vigan, like any other places in the Philippines.

. The OLDEST WEAVER I'VE MET

[VIGAN] ► Meeting the Oldest Palaspas Weaver for Palm Sunday at 74 years old


TEASER ▬ All I can see to the face of Lola Conchita is the sincerity in her craft -- that she loves it so much in spite of her age. She started weaving Palaspas when she was 64 years old and at that age, she finds the "need" to do it to earn for a living.

at 70+ years of age even expressed to me how she wished Palm Sunday to happen more often in a year so that she'll have more opportunities to sell palaspas. Indeed, Vigan is a wonderland for them to earn way bigger than they usually do.

For hotel owners, all their rooms are occupied and how they wish it's Holy Week everyday because hotels are greatly benefited. Restaurant owners, market vendors, fish ball vendors, empanada makers, royal bibingka manufacturers and more from the different industries benefit a lot. For most employees, it's a long weekend and they try to have a vacation to their real and true dream wonderland.

It's Holy Week, a very special day observed by the Roman Catholic religion worldwide; and in Vigan, it's a brisk economic boom!

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► KUTSEROS NEVER RUN OUT OF PASSENGERS THIS DAY.

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► GOOD FRIDAY CROWD, MOSTLY LOCALS.

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► CANDLE VENDORS ARE HERE TO STAY.

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► CANDLES FOR SALE FOR THE PROCESSION

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► THE BELFRY SOARS OVER THE DENSE CROWD.

The Scene I've Always Seen

AROUND TWO HOURS BEFORE THE PROCESSION, PEOPLE already gathered in front of the Vigan Cathedral—not all of them are here for the procession though. There are onlookers. Some are here to take photos. Some just opted to watch and observe. Some are unlucky people trapped in the sea of crowd figuring out how to escape. Some are pious devotees. Some don't care. Some believe this religious tradition isn't appropriate. Whatever level of faith and belief these people may belong to, you can't take away the fact that Good Friday is Vigan's most crowded day and Vigan's religious culture is the phoenix. The minority creeps out in oblivion—its powerlessness revealed.

No one can seem to fight the strong force of this religious and cultural gathering that has been embedded on the crust of the people's existence. It's so deeply penetrating that these practices seemed to have become an integral component of their lifeblood—I'm referring to the conformers of these traditions and customs.

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► SCENE: INSIDE THE VIGAN CATHEDRAL ON A GOOD FRIDAY

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► SEEN: DEVOTEES EXPRESSING THEIR FAITH BEFORE THESE SAINTS' IMAGES

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► SIN: SOME DEVOTEES BELIEVE THEIR SINS WILL BE FORGIVEN IF THEY'LL DO A LITTLE SACRIFICE THIS LENT.

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► A MARIAN IMAGE STANDING ON THE PERIMETER FENCE OF THE CATHEDRAL

Religion, Culture and Tradition in the Procession

ROMAN CATHOLICS POSITIONED THEMSELVES IN A PLACE where they can easily move out whenever their carroza-of-choice comes out. When the carroza they want to follow comes out from the cathedral through its huge main door, they follow suit. 

The sequence of the coming out of the carrozas (or karro in Ilocano) is based on the Roman Catholic's version of the the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I was near the gate of the cathedral because I wanted to feel how the Roman Catholic followers feel while awaiting for the release of the karro. I squeezed myself while trying to approach the karro. The way for the karro was made clear by the members of the religious brotherhood Knights of Columbus who can be distinguished easily because they are dressed uniformly guarding the way of the karro being released from the cathedral to make their way around the city of Vigan.

I still remember when my late grandfather's youngest brother (I call him 'uncle' though) would bring us in front of the Simbaan-a-Bassit to watch the procession with his son (same age as me whom I grew up with in our barrio). I would see the huge crowd and pursisyon joiners with their candles and prayers. I thought it was just a normal parade but when I tried to experience it myself, I realized that my fellow Bigueños who are Roman Catholics consider this as part of their being. There's effort. There's passion. There's sincerity. I don't mind if their drive for this event is their faith or just a conformity to a tradition and culture. The thing is, Vigan Roman Catholics treat this seriously. However, in some cases, there is a little hypocrisy and I believe this is always present everywhere.

I would like to post a disclaimer here that I am not a Roman Catholic and the teachings that I believe conflict with what I am seeing now but I am not blaming anyone. These people grew up with these beliefs, enforced by tradition and plastered by culture. 

As I always say, I watch and observe religious rituals not that I'm changing what I believe but because I want to learn—and one of the best ways to learn is through experience. I wanted to know why these people are very religious and what drive them to be this religious only during Holy Week. I also wanted to experience their situation before, during and after the procession so that I may have a personal account for this event. See? I always believe that the best place to learn a culture or tradition is experiencing it and religious events like this is the best place to go if you're a culture buff. 

What I was seeing wasn't pure religion. I know tradition and culture have a big part in activities like this under the guise of Roman Catholicism. I believe it's safe to say that some activities go beyond the limits that even the Roman Catholic church is against (if you have heard about those people who crucify themselves during Holy Week). That's one of the reasons why I'm so fascinated in seeing religious rituals and events of the Filipino Roman Catholics because they often mix with the culture of the place and on how religion and culture intertwined is a good question that gives you the drive to travel more because you want to find for the answer by weaving the details and correlating them from one place to another, one experience to another and one perspective to another.

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► SCENE: THIS KARRO HAS FINALLY COME OUT OF THE CATHEDRAL

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► SEEN: AN INFANT JOINING THE CROWD OF PILGRIMS/DEVOTEES

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► ANOTHER KARRO IS COMING OUT AS SEEN FROM WHERE I'M STANDING.

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► TRYING TO GET A GOOD  POSITION OF MY CAMERA TO TAKE THIS PHOTO.

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► THIS PERSON TOOK PHOTO OF THE KARRO USING A SMARTPHONE.

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► A MEMBER OF THE RELIGIOUS BROTHERHOOD WEARING THEIR SIGNATURE HEADDRESS

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► A SCULPTURE ADORNED WITH WHITE FLOWERS

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► RELIGIOUS BROTHERHOOD

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► ONE OF THE KARROS

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► WHEN THE NIGHT FELL INTO ITS PLACE, THE LIGHT CAME IN.


Each karro for this pursisyon has a sponsor. An announcer mentions the name of the sponsor while a karro leaves the cathedral. Usually, the sponsors are Vigan residents who used to have or presently have an influence in the city whether in politics or business. 

These sponsors take charge of beautifying the karro they chose. Some sculpture are dressed with newly sewed clothes while the others opted to retain the old dress. They also decorated the karro with flowers so that it may stand out and look pleasant.

When the night fell into its place, each karro was beautifully lighted. 

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► THE SKY DIMMED, NOT THIS KARRO.

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► THIS CROSS WITH A WHITE FABRIC STANDS OUT AS THE SKY TURNED DARKER.

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► IT WAS ALREADY DARK WHEN THIS KARRO HAD ITS TURN.

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► THE GLARING WHITE BELLFRY.

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► THE CATHEDRAL SHINES BRIGHT.

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► THE PROCESSION PASSING BY THE ILOCOS SUR CAPITOL.

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► A WELL-LIT KARRO

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► THE PROCESSION PASSING BY THE CAPITOL

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► DRESSED WITH ORNATE CLOTHE

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► CANDLE LIGHT STARTED TO APPEAR.

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► "MAKIGUYOD"

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► PROCESSION JOINERS

The Traditional Procession Route

THE PROCESSION STARTS FROM THE VIGAN CATHEDRAL then runs through Nueva Segovia Street, a left turn to Quezon Avenue passing by the Ilocos Sur Capitol, then right turn to Burgos street passing by the National Museum of Vigan then left turn to Rizal Street (the longest distance), then left to Liberation Boulevard passing by the Simbaan-a-Bassit, then left turn to Calle Crisologo then back to the Vigan Cathedral.

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► THE SIMBAAN-A-BASSIT

VIGAN PROCESSION

[VIGAN] ► THE PROCESSION PASSING BY THE SIMBAAN-A-BASSIT

Palm Sunday

PALM SUNDAY IS CONSIDERED THE START OF the Lent. A day before Palm Sunday, palaspas weavers from the town of # S A N J U A N

#SANJUAN (LAPOG)


(Lapog) travel to Vigan and station themselves in front of the Simbaan-a-Bassit along Liberation Boulevard. They sleep here for a night while waiting for the Palm Sunday.

At the night of Palm Sunday, there is also pursisyon.

VIGAN PALM SUNDAY

[VIGAN] ► PALM SUNDAY PROCESSION

VIGAN PALM SUNDAY

[VIGAN] ► PALASPAS WEAVERS IN FRONT OF THE SIMBAAN-A-BASSIT

The Bargeynan

[VIGAN] ► Holy Week's Bargeynan (Hawker Street) and Hawker Food Stalls


TEASER ▬ To get inside the shopping tents, you have to survive the crowd by squeezing yourself in between strangers, literally.

and the Food Stalls

THE BARGEYNAN IN VIGAN, A PERENNIAL HAWKER street shopping occupying Burgos Street is a mainstay every Holy Week. Bargeynan comes along with street food stalls in Florentino Street featuring Vigan delicacies and street foods that are already familiar to us. In the 90's, Florentino Street (specifically the segment south of PLAZA BURGOS

[VIGAN] ► Plaza Burgos in Orange Bloom


TEASER ▬ Together with the Vigan traditional horse-drawn carriages [calesa] and the century-old belfry, the orange bloom colors the atmosphere of Plaza Burgos making way for a great summer ambiance and cultural escapade experience!

) and the rest of the food stall section used to be the haven for dalangdang. The latter is the Ilocano term for a sun-dried salted fish. Since there is this belief that eating meat during Holy Week is a sin or a taboo, these dalangdang vendors here are the superstars. My great grandma (lola sa tuhod) used to be a dalangdang vendor when she was still alive and I used to stay in her station while she sells. She had a lot of suki then even though dalangdang is ridiculously expensive for this season.

Now, the section for dalangdang vendors is no longer here. Most of them are now in the Vigan Public Market. So if you wish to buy, the streets I mentioned above are no longer the right place to go.

VIGAN BARGEYNAN

[VIGAN] ► THE BARGEYNAN

Ending Notes

ANOTHER HOLY WEEK IS DONE AND GONE. I made this post for those who haven't been in Vigan yet during Holy Week so that I may give them an idea what to expect here whenever they plan to visit the city during Lent.

I hope this would guide and help you in your next Holy Week visit to our city. / end.


Vigan Holy Week Through the Years

SEE POSTS ABOUT VIGAN HOLY WEEK THROUGH THE YEARS. TRACE HOW IT CHANGED BY TIME AND READ MY PERSPECTIVE, NOTES AND INSIGHTS SPECIFIC FOR THAT TIME.



VIGAN BARGEYNAN

[VIGAN] ► HELLO! WELCOME TO VIGAN HOLY WEEK (YEAR 2013)! - WITH MY BROTHER AND COUSINS


► FOOTNOTES, DISCLAIMERS, ACKNOWLEDGMENT, ETC

[1] This post is filed under the category "Customs and Traditions." This is a category here on my blog where I write my stories about cultural events and activities, intangible culture and heritage, rituals and everything that is related to the norms, local practices and beliefs of a place and its people. There is a section below where you can see other related posts from this category.

[2] All maps I used on this post are the works of Eugene Alvin Villar and Mike Gonzalez published on Wikipedia. Source: 1 | 2


[3] All photos are mine.

[4] The insights I wrote herein are based on my perspective as a local who was born, raised and currently residing in this city.

More Stories from #Vigan

Map Showing the Location of #Vigan


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MORE POSTS FROM THIS CATEGORY: *CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS*

[VIGAN] ► Unveiling of Christmas Tree, an Annual Bigueño Tradition

_________________
TEASER ▬ Our Bigueño culture is so rich that it is not enough to express it in words—we need to express them in festivities and manifest it in our intangible good traditions for other people to understand.

[VIGAN] ► Procession: Observing the Semana Santa in Vigan

_________________
TEASER ▬ I hope everyone shall change for the better. It should not just be a tradition but it should be a goal to enrich our spiritual lives.

[VIGAN] ► Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday) Scenes

_________________
TEASER ▬ This is Holy Week up north. This is Vigan, like any other places in the Philippines.

[VIGAN] ► Santa Cruzan in Vigan's Flores de Mayo

_________________
TEASER ▬ Bigueños love cultural events a lot because we also love our cultural heritage double fold.

[VIGAN] ► Ramada: Thanksgiving Culture and Traditional Games

_________________
TEASER ▬ The ramada traditional games happen every Tres de Mayo. Tres de Mayo is a feast day honoring Apo Lakay or the Sto Cristo Milagroso de Vigan who is believed to have saved Vigan from a plague in 1882.

[VIGAN] ► Rakit Race: Bamboos and Balance at Mestizo River

_________________
TEASER ▬ The historic Mestizo river is the place to see. For the very first time, I witnessed an event called rakit race.

[VIGAN] ► The Lion Dance and the Culture on the 3rd of May

_________________
TEASER ▬ I thought I already know a lot about its history and culture but I realized that the more I discover new things, the more questions leave me hanging.

[VIGAN] ► The Holy Mass for Sto Cristo Milagroso de Vigan

_________________
TEASER ▬ This time, it's a team. The image of Sto Cristo Milagroso de Vigan was placed above the middle of a temporary altar that was especially set up for today's use.

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BAGUIOKUALA LUMPURTANAY, RIZALBANTAY, ILOCOS SURPUERTO PRINCESA, PALAWANLUNA, LA UNIONTANAY, RIZALSAN VICENTE - PALAWANSAN FERNANDO, LA UNION

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