Unique Holy Week holidays for 2019

Unique Holy Week holidays for 2019

Make your Holy Week vacation more interesting by actually engaging in Holy Week activities. *wink wink*

Going on a social media purge as your penitensya (penance) or beach bumming in places like Boracay or Palawan for the Semana Santa is well and good, but don’t you ever get tired of the same trend every single year? Why not go on a simple summer holiday where you can enjoy your vacation AND still experience something relevant to Holy Week festivities? We have rounded up ideas for your Semana Santa escape.

Barotac Viejo, Iloilo

Iloilo isn’t the first place that pops into people’s heads when it comes to answering the question “Where should I be this Holy Week?” It’s not as popular a destination especially that crowd favorite Boracay is merely on the northwest part of the island. But the sleep town of Barotac Viejo may just give you something new.

The little town is known for having a community that is takes their Holy Week seriously by mimicking the Passion of Christ. The townspeople themselves have been performing the Passion play, with “passion” Hiligaynon every Good Friday for almost half a century in their annual Taltal sa Barotac Viejoand it’s a delight to watch.

Places to see: Bucas Grande, Old Iloilo City, Miagao Church, River Esplanande, “Little Baguio” (Bucari)
Things to do: Party at Smallville, Walk along Iloilo River Esplanande, Island hopping at Concepcion

Bantayan Island, Cebu

Bantayan Island
This small island north of Cebu isn’t just a hit for its white sand beaches; it’s also a good place to be if you want to see lifesize replicas of religious images this Holy Week. Photo by Roderick Eime

It’s an island north of the Cebu mainland that’s become popular for its stretches of fine-sand beaches that is expected to see an influx of tourists this Holy Week. What people shouldn’t miss while in the island paradise is the annual Pasko sa Kasakit, a simple celebration of the stations of the cross, but with a twist where the images in the Station of the Cross are supersized and paraded around.

Places to see: Alice Beach, Camp Sawi, Kota Beach (all in Santa Fe), Malapascua Island, Virgin Island, Hilantagaan Island, Kota Park
Things to do: Biking, snorkel, freedive/scuba, beach bumming, tour the town of Bantayan for heritage houses

Siquijor

This island is starting to blow up more for the views you’ll get than what happens here during Semana Santa.

Siquijor, known across the country as a home to witchcraft and mysticism, but locals have since shed that image and now proudly celebrate their folk healing expertise with the annual Folk Healing Festival, taking place during the last few days of Holy Week. Get yourself treated by local healers or witness how they make various concoctions with the promise of curing almost anything you can think of—yes, including heartaches.

Places to see: Century-old balete tree, Salagdoong Beach, Paliton Beach, Kagusuan Beach (extremely hidden, possible that not even the locals know about it)
Things to do: Go around the island on a scooter, visit a ranch, hit the island’s peaks on a mountain bike, snorkeling, beach hopping

Marinduque

If there’s a Holy Week destination that’s never left off any list, it’s Marinduque. Known as the geographical heart of the Philippines, it’s basically an island that’s made itself known for a festival that celebrates a Roman soldier who became a believer in Jesus Christ: the Moriones Festival.

Moriones Festival
He’s not really angry, but he is the first thing you’ll see when you look up information on the Moriones Festival, the tale of a Roman soldier who became a believer in Jesus Christ. Photo by Richard Reynoso for travelingmorion.com.

Most of you will know what this festival centers on commemorating Roman soldier Longinus, who stabs Jesus on the side, witnesses His resurrection, tells the Romans about it, and (gruesomely) gets his head chopped off. This part is often depicted in their version of The Passion play, which talks about Christ’s last moments before He eventually passes on.

Places to see: Tres Reyes islands, Mt. Mataas, Boac, Palad Sandbar, Ungab Rock Formations, Bathala Python Cave
Things to do: Visita Iglesia, Beach hopping

Pampanga

It’s the piece de resistance of a list of Holy Week destinations, and something that’s also been a source of controversy as to whether or not it should be considered a tourist attraction. We’re talking, of course, about the Maleldo Festival in San Pedro Cutud, Pampanga.

struck
Yes. This is a very REAL crucifixion. In San Pedro Cutud. And it happens nearly every year. Photo by istolethetv on Flickr.

The Maleldo Festival is the full (and very real) re-enactment of Christ’s crucifixion. Yes, it’s the whole 10 miles: the garb, the Crown of Thorns, crying depiction of Mary Magdalene, people marching on the streets whacking their backs with things that make them bleed, and someone actually getting nailed to a cross that they’ve been carrying for several miles.

Places to see: Mt. Pinatubo, Subic Bay, Sandbox at Porac, El Kabayo, Skyranch Pampanga, Nayong Pilipino
Things to do: go on a food trip, adventure activities, Visita Iglesia

Poblacion, Makati

Yes, you read that right. It’s an option for those who don’t want to go out of the city yet still want to witness something that only happens once a year. The citizens of Makati, particularly those who live in the restaurant-and-bar hub that is Poblacion, stage a parade commemorating Lent.

They hold a grand procession every Holy Wednesday (closed roads, of course) and put up booths with life-size depictions of The Passion of Christ. Another plus: some establishments stay open even during Holy Week!

Places to see: Sts. Peter and Paul Parish (one of the oldest churches in the country), Circuit Makati (but hold off on that after Holy Wednesday), art galleries in Poblacion
Things to do: staycation at one of the many hotels in the area, food trip, pub crawl

10 affordable & charming resorts for couples

10 affordable & charming resorts for couples

Some of our favorite holidaymakers Levy Amosin, Carla Araniego, Christian Sangoyo, Celine Murillo, and Darwin Cayetano, pick the most gorgeous resorts they’ve been to that don’t break the bank and are perfect for you and your love.

Urban Sands Resort, Iloilo

Mixing modern urban sophistication and beachside ambience, the Urban Sands Resort at the heart of iloilo brings the sea closer to the city. Levy Amosin of Hugging Horizons describes it as “a paradise within the heart of the city.” Using real sand and pebbles in the landscaping, the focal point is the pool, which, according to Levy, brings a “coastal feel to it.”

From Php3,250 (USD60++); Urbansandsiloilo.com

Loboc River Resort, Bohol

Imagine staying in this room with a view of the Loboc River. Photo by Christian Sangoyo

Away from the usual island resorts in Bohol, Carla Araniego of Blissfulguro recommends the Loboc River Resort in Tagbilaran as an alternative place to stay while in the land of the Chocolate Hills. situated right beside the Loboc River, their cottages replicate the feel of traditional nipa houses. “Having coffee on the balcony with a view of Loboc River was the most memorable part of my stay. Away from the beach crowd of Bohol, its seclusion is perfect for those who are looking for tranquility amid the busy goings-on of city life.”

From Php2,500; Lobocriverresort.com

Casa San Miguel, Zambales

A hidden gem in the town of San Antonio in Zambales, Casa San Miguel is a rustic retreat intertwined with art and culture. Besides hosting guests, the casa is actually a local school for music. Carla recalls her stay, “waking up to the charming voices of kids having their weekly voice and violin lessons truly separate this resort from the rest.”

From Php4,000; Facebook.com/casa.sanmiguel.zambales

Crosswinds Resort Suites, Tagaytay

It’s not really a stay in chilly Tagaytay without the sight of pine trees and beautifully-colored houses. Photo by Christian Sangoyo

The Crosswinds Resort combines the feel of charming swiss-inspired chalets with the mildly chilly environs of Tagaytay. Carla says “walking along its winding roads, the scent of pine in the air, and passing colorful chalets, transport you to another place.”

From Php3,700; Crosswindsresortsuites.com

Casa San Pablo, Laguna

It looks old, but we’re willing to bet you’d find more than gold here. Photo by Christian Sangoyo

Brightly painted walls mixed with vintage furniture and on point accessories are the charm of Casa San Pablo, a bed and breakfast near Sampaloc Lake. Each nook and cranny has a surprise. Somehow, the craziness of the place works with the peaceful ambiance of its location.

From Php2,900; Casasanpablo.com

Moon Garden, Tagaytay

Remember what we said about colorful settings in Tagaytay? Photo by Christian Sangoyo

Best for a romantic weekend in Tagaytay. situated on the quieter side of the city, its rustic stone casitas are overgrown with vines and has open hut lounges surrounded by ponds. Overall, the place has the vibe of a secret garden and forgotten places.

From Php2,600; Facebook.com/Moongardentagaytay

Coco Grove Beach Resort, Siquijor

Imagine having a drink or dining here. Photo by Christian Sangoyo

With almost a kilometer-long shoreline, three swimming pools, three restaurants, and garden and pool bars, Coco Grove Beach Resort is one of the bang-for-the-buck luxury places in Siquijor.

From Php3,500; Cocogrovebeachresort.com

Luljetta’s Place Garden Suites, Antipolo City

A scenic eight-hectare property is carved along the ridges of a cliff and overlooks Antipolo, Laguna de Bay, and Metro Manila with a very relaxing infinity pool with views.

From Php4,000; Luljettas.com

Sophia’s Garden Resort, Coron, Palawan

Celine Murillo of Celenism.com recommends the Spanish-style villas of Sophia’s Garden Resort, an actual garden with a wonderful El Comidor restaurant that looks like it’s straight out of historic novel Noli Me Tangere.

From Php3,300; Facebook.com/sophiasgardenresort
SkyJet Airlines flies from Manila to Coron

Sand and Stars Beach Resort, Baler, Aurora

See the sand and stars at night, enjoy the beach in the day. Photo by Darwin Cayetano

For convenient beach camping, Darwin Cayetano of Tracking Treasure says Baler’s sand and stars Resort has huge tents. “Other than the convenience of having actual beds, the floor is carpeted􀈀 it has a sitting area􀈀 and every corner is Instagramable,” adds Darwin.

From Php2,500; Facebook.com/sandandstarsdinadiawan

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Words by Christian Sangoyo

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