For as far as I can remember, going out of town during the Holy Week was a popular practice that I found hard to understand. Although I view myself as a liberal, I retain some conservative sensibilities on certain matters, and one of these is the observance of the Holy Week. I do understand that there are those who go out of town to return to their provinces where they’ve always commemorated this annual event, and that’s fine. And of course, there are sects that do not observe this mainly Catholic custom, so I guess they’re also exempt. But for the vast majority who, in one way or another, still retain ties to the Sancta Mater Ecclesia, it seems a bit insensitive for them to do something entirely different from the established customs, especially considering the fact that the institutionalization of Holy Week holidays by secular authorities was primarily to allow Catholics to observe those same customs.
To a limited extent, I still hold the same views. But these years, my faith has evolved into something that prefers to look for the spirit behind the tradition and do something else that would be able to express the same spirit. I still have a lot of respect for tradition though, and I believe they’re more important than people give them credit for. But anyway…
The first step I took away from my “Holy Week comfort zone” was in 2010, when I signed up for a trip to Marinduque with Travel Factor to witness that province’s local customs at that time of the year, particularly the Moriones festival. Although the trip was still Holy Week-centered there was a lot that wasn’t that you can read all about here. It was a productive first step and set the tone for any future Holy Week out-of-town trips I would possibly make
I wasn’t able to go out of town last year for various reasons, so I was particularly eager to do so this year (2012). It was my good fortune to have been able to get to know the group called Happy to Live, Glad to Give, who combined out-of-town trips with socially-relevant activities. You might remember me blogging about my adventures with them in past entries. Incidentally, the first activity of theirs that I joined in was also in Marinduque in October last year, which you can read about here. Since then, I’ve been in a number of their trips and I was lucky to secure a slot to join their major out of town activity for Holy Week 2012.
This next series is the story of Happy to Live, Glad to Give, Season 6, held in the province of Occidental Mindoro. What prompted me to sign up for this is the prospect of actually doing something socially relevant during the Holy Week, which to a limited extent is still in keeping with the spirit of the holidays.
This trip involved mainly three things, which were:
1. An outreach activity for the benefit of Mangyan schoolchildren, wherein we gave them much-needed school supplies and footwear. It was an eye opener to observe the living conditions of our Mangyan countrymen, specifically the seeming lack of social services extended to them by the local and national governments.
2. A climb to Mt. Iglit – a very exhausting and punishing trek which caused me to slip and fall more times than in all the mountain climbs I’ve ever done combined. Also a unique mountain for me in the sense that the descent was much more difficult than the ascent. A very appropriate Holy Week penitencia. There was also the possibility that we’d be able to spot the rare and endangered Tamaraw.
3. An overnight beach camping trip to Apo Reef and side trip to Pandan Island. It was the perfect way to end a grueling mountaineering adventure. There were 2 highlights on this leg of the trip, one being an accidental spotting of a pod of dolphins (which we were able to observe up close) and being able to swim alongside sea turtles in the wild.
This was a very unforgettable trip for me in terms of both its ups and downs, but an overall great outing, with possibly the best group of friends one can travel with. (And yes, this also includes a certain Romwel, who goes batshit insane when drunk. But more on this later.)
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This entry is part of the Holy Week 2012 series dated April 5-8, 2012:
1. Preview: The Trail to Mt. Iglit
2. Holy Week 2012: Prologue
3. Holy Week 2012: Sitio Tamisan Outreach
4. Holy Week 2012: Penitencia sa Mt. Iglit (unang yugto)
5. Holy Week 2012: Penitencia sa Mt. Iglit (ikalawang yugto)
6. Holy Week 2012: Penitencia sa Mt. Iglit (huling yugto)
7. Holy Week 2012: Apo Reef (Day 1)
8. Holy Week 2012: Apo Reef (Day 2) and Pandan Island