DESPITE the givens of the day, the Holy Week celebration in the Philippines this year was as thickly populated as before. The Visita Iglesia, for instance, observed in the evening of Holy Thursday was elbow to elbow along the road that connects the Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church. In Quiapo Church, a friend couldn’t place himself in due to the immediate swell of the crowd on the afternoon of Good Friday.
Although on a different breath, the crowd on a sweltering noon was unbelievably huge in Barangay San Pedro Cutud in San Fernando City in Pampanga. The foreign and local media, the tourists, the penitents—or so the cast of characters were regarded—and the organizers of a nine-count crucifixion of warm bodies were all glued to the main event of the flagellations and nailings more fanatically heaved than the recent devastation of Solis by Manny Pacquiao.
The religious sentiments and fanaticism during Holy Week in the Philippines are so profound to beg for comparison. Judging by the external looks of it, such spiritual manifestations would likely be enough to convert to thy-kingdom-come a good number of the politicians clowning the streets of the country today.
They hibernated for a day or two, but on Easter Sunday the politicians were back dancing on the streets deceiving people like insatiable ogres baiting on prospective victims.
While religion is a virtue, politics in the Philippines is a vice. The only rub is, in times like the Holy Week nobody seem bothered about the chameleons that masterfully blends religion and politics and artistically transforms the mixture into a vote for public trust--albeit an age-old consequence of sure corruption and machinations of a public service turning into a self-service.
For quite some time now, social scientists have been pursuing to understand some unsure phenomenon why catholic countries, like the Philippines, are distinctively economically poor and politically chaotic. Could this be a problem with religion? With politics? Or both? The way Filipinos celebrate the Holy Week is very telling.