That said, when millions of people around the country are expected to take to the road all at the same time, you can expect a hiccup or two. (And that's a massive understatement, especially in this country.) Although it's impossible to do away with those hiccups altogether, you can minimize them when you keep these tips in mind.
Travel Ahead of Time
As early as last Friday, Filipinos have already begun to pack up and head home, and for good reason. If you're going to flock to the bus stations/airports tomorrow in time for Maundy Thursday, expect a hefty amount of competition (and perhaps a stranding incident or two). Check if a whole week off won't affect your schedule, and advise your employer ahead of time.
However, don't fret if travelling ahead isn't possible. The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) recently implemented measures to ensure the safe travel of airplane passengers. Additionally, integration of major roads like the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) has just been completed, so if you're planning to visit Pampanga and/or Subic, that's good news.
Plan Your Road Trip
When it comes to Holy Week, it's not just the time of travel you have to worry about. You also have to think of how your travel will go. For example, should you take the bus, the airplane or a private vehicle? Should you bring pasalubong for your loved ones? How long will it take to get from point A to point B, given the heavy traffic to be expected on Holy Week?
Luckily, you don't need a crystal ball to do this. There's a handy-dandy guide courtesy of ABS-CBN on how to have a stress-free Holy Week road trip.
Secure Your Houses
We've talked about this in a couple of posts before, but it bears repeating: If you're leaving your home for an extended period of time (like the Holy Weekend), be sure to lock up your home nice and tight. Check your electricity and water supply lines for damage, and clean up your home in case flammable materials are lying around.
If you're uncomfortable with leaving your home unattended, have someone else look after it. Make sure this person is trustworthy, and can be relied on to keep your house in order. All of this may sound like too much work to do before taking a vacation, but as the old saying goes, you can never be too safe.
Take Note of Mall Opening/Closing Hours
If you choose to spend your vacation in the Metro (a.k.a. a "staycation"), be aware that many malls will be closed on Maundy Thursday and/or Good Friday. For example, Glorietta will be closed on March 24 to 25, while Ever Gotesco Commonwealth will close only on March 25.
Fortunately, you can see the full schedule of mall opening/closing hours here. That page will be updated in the coming days, so stay tuned!
Stock Up on Food for Good Friday
If you're a Catholic, you know that eating meat isn't allowed on Good Friday (or any Friday during Lent). Since most of the malls will be closed on that day, and it'll probably be difficult to find an open restaurant that serves Lenten specials, it's best if you can cook Lenten-friendly meals on your own. Plus, it's cheaper!
Alternatively, you can order food from vegetarian/seafood restaurants ahead of time. Make sure your food can be reheated without losing its quality for maximum enjoyment.
Stock Up on Your Favorite Shows/Movies/Books
Of course, it's inevitable for local channels to air Holy Week specials all week long, if not go off the air altogether. Unless you're a hardcore Christian, you probably wouldn't want to watch "The Ten Commandments" for the nth year in a row.
So if you're taking the "staycation" route, make sure you have stacks of materials other than Christian ones. Buckle down with your favorite movie on Blu-Ray DVD, or that novel you've wanted to finish for a long time. Whether you're a Catholic, a non-Catholic Christian or a non-Christian, you have the right to spend the Holy Week vacation however you want.
Take Heed of Superstitions
Okay, this may not sound like "rational" advice, especially if you don't have a single superstitious bone in your body. But if humoring these old wives' tales won't take much effort, why not follow them anyway?
For example, there's nothing wrong with avoiding serious injuries on Good Friday or putting up palaspas (blessed palm leaves) in your home. As long as you're not harming yourself or any other person, it's better to err on the side of caution when it comes to superstitions.
So this is how you enjoy Holy Week in the Philippines for all it's worth. If you have any thoughts about this post, kindly let us know in the comments section!