I grew up knowing that I had a Tita (Filipino for “Aunt”) Tess who I saw once a month after every trip abroad as a Flight Attendant. She always stood tall, beautiful and admittedly, scary to the kids who didn’t know her because she always had her chin up with one hand holding on to her cigarette in a very “taray” way. Because of this, I thought the prayer was “Do not bring us to tita tess but deliver us from evil. Amen. “ I just remembered this memory last night as the family, with Tita Tess, went to seven churches to say all the mysteries of the Rosary as it was our Maundy Thursday tradition.
I was happy that my 7 nieces were all there to join us and be part of the tradition. We also lighted candles to say a prayer at the Sto. Nino church. For every church we visited, I took a picture and tagged my lil’ sis Leigh on facebook so she and her family will know that we were always thinking of them in our prayers and in our Visita Iglesia.
When I was small, our family would go to Cebu for a quick summer vacation to visit our grandma and relatives. Our summer trip to Cebu would usually fall on the holy week as it’s the only time my dad didn’t have work because all the banks and businesses were closed during the holidays and all of us kids didn’t have classes. Thus, we had the privilege of joining in the long processions and in participating in the traditional Holy Week activities. I would remember our grandma Carmen telling us "bawal mag katwa ....bawal mag sayaw ... bawal mag lingaw-lingaw kay namatay ang Ginoo." She was very strict in having us follow the holy week traditions and respect the sacredness and meaning of the occasion.
Holy week is always filled with memories for me of being with the family. Either we had a road trip or stay home and watch all the old movies that were about the men and women of the bible or try to do all the traditions that most Catholics would follow during these holidays. One funny memory is when we visited the “Santo Entierro” to see, pay our respects and kiss the statue of Jesus lying in his tomb (which is designed and constructed by the parish priests in our parish). My dad got inside the “tomb” first and was followed by my mom. As mom was about to kiss the forehead of Jesus, she almost panicked as she thought that the statue of Jesus was performing a miracle as the head was “lifted” up as if it was going to stand up. She only calmed down when she saw that the statue moved because dad was kissing the “feet” at the same time and his weight pushed up the statue.
Now that I’m all grown up, I am ashamed to say that I never got to do most of the holy week traditions this year as I stayed at home to rest. I did take time to reflect and be thankful for our life and our loved ones and most especially for our Savior who I know will always be there for me despite how sinful I am. I may not lead the perfect Christian life as most would expect, but I try my best, most especially in loving God and in loving my fellow men. Like most Christians, there will always be persecution and people judging me. Those will always be around, all I know is that I have faith and that I will just live life the best way I can and love and help my neighbours the best way I could.
Have a blessed holy week everyone.