That's why, if you visit the country between March 17 to 20 2016, you'll find that most (but thankfully not all) establishments are closed. This can be frustrating if you live in a normally-busy area like Makati, and you're used to the bells and whistles that accompany the city.
Don't worry about it, though. Just because the Metro becomes a near-ghost town during Holy Week doesn't mean your stay has to be boring. If you happen to visit when it's Holy Week in the Philippines, here's what you can do to make your stay more productive and meaningful.
Travel Outside the Metro
If you're Catholic, there are many pilgrimage sites near the Metro you can visit. Most of them are only a few hours away, and the scenery is often gorgeous. Most importantly, they help you view your life through a different perspective (as cliché as that sounds).
The only downside is that people flock — and we do mean, flock — to these places during Holy Week. So be sure to plan and book your trip ASAP; otherwise, your religious experience will be more stressful than relaxing. We've touched on tips for a hassle-free vacation in the Philippines before, so if you need a refresher, you can refer to the link above.
Consider a "Staycation"
In the Philippines, if you choose to spend your vacation at home, it's called a "staycation" (a portmanteau of "stay" and "vacation"). This is best for people who, for one reason or another, can't leave the Metro.
As we mentioned earlier, even "staycations" don't have to be boring. You can watch one of the many holiday specials in the Philippines for 2016. You can head over to an open cinema on Black Saturday, and catch the premiere of "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice." Or you can just sit in a soft chair, make a warm cup of coffee/tea and finish that novel you've been putting off forever.
Should you choose a staycation, however, be sure to keep a few things in mind. First, make sure to research the opening hours of your favorite establishments during Holy Week. Second, stock up on food in case your favorite restaurant happens to be closed. Third, remember to have fun no matter what!
A lot of restaurants offer Holy Week specials. For example, Alfred at the Makati Diamond Residences has a Holiday Champagne Brunch from March 26 to 27, 2016. Here, you'll enjoy unlimited pours of Grower Champagne, Western-style meat dishes, melted cheese, salads, appetizers and more. Keep in mind that this is only available from 11:30 A.M. to 2:30 P.M., and that you'll have to budget for at least Php2,000 per head.
Of course, Alfred isn't the only restaurant open during Holy Week in the Philippines. We'll be talking about those in more detail in a future post, so keep your eyes peeled for that!
Do Something Different
What if you don't want either a staycation or a pilgrimage? Luckily, there's the Malasimbo Lights and Dance 2016 in Puerto Galera.
Aside from being only three hours away from Metro Manila, Malasimbo will also feature music, dancing and performances from lesser-known but talented artists from all over the world. Some of them include DJ Kentaro from Japan, DJ Onra from France and DJ San Soda from Belgium. For more information about the event, log on to http://malasimbofestival.com/.
Participate in the city's Holy Week Traditions
If you're a resident of Barangay Poblacion, Makati City, then you're in luck: You'll have a firsthand experience with the Pabasa tradition.
Every year, Poblacion's residents set up kalvarios or kubols (makeshift altars) along the streets of the barangay. On these altars are sacred images like the crucifix or the Nazareno. When designated "readers" pass by these altars, they take turns chanting the Pasyon, a book chronicling the life and death of Jesus Christ. The chanting continues until the Pasyon is completed, usually on Good Friday. While this is going on, other residents provide food and drinks for the readers.
The Pabasa isn't Poblacion's only Holy Week tradition, though. Residents also parade floats showing the Stations of the Cross around the barangay, usually between Holy Wednesday and Good Friday. You can view them from the comfort of your home, and make a prayer as each float passes you by.
Holy Week in the Philippines is a special occasion. It's a time to remember how Jesus Christ lived, how He died, and what it all meant for those who would become His followers. Whether you see it as a time for redemption, relaxation or a combination of the two, you can't go wrong booking a holiday with one of Asia's largest Catholic countries.