Considering we live in the biggest (population-wise, at least) Catholic country in Asia, the Philippines is shockingly remiss in celebrating the Christian world's second biggest holiday, and this is something that has not gone unnoticed by, of all people, the expat community.
Ever since my mum opened her little shop, we've tried to cater to every possible occasion. At first was hit-or-miss in terms of merchadise selection. Apparently the local market likes giving cards and foil balloons on Valentine's Day, Mother's and Father's Days, but buys neither cards nor baskets for Easter. The expats though, stock up on Easter goodies.
I personally lament the absence of Cadbury's Creme Eggs in my part of the world (despite the presence of their other product lines in supermarkets and garages), as this has long been my best Easter treat (at least since I discovered them in the UK in the late 1980s).
While most Filipinos may not hand around chocolate eggs on Easter Sunday, many do spent the days leading up to it in prayer and church visiting; or at least they did until the mass exodus to the country's fine beaches began with the advent of cheap flights and resort developments. There is a Maundy Thursday tradition of visiting seven churches and saying prayers or the Stations of the Cross at each, and this is one my family has assiduously observed as far back as I remember.
We used to go as a family - parents, grandparents, kids and grandkids. When the families got bigger though, and some of us moved further away from my mum and dad, we started to go on our own. Big A and I used to go on Good Friday while Little A napped, but this year we wanted him to be a part of it, so we did the rounds of the churches after breakfast on Friday morning, before the sun was too high in the sky.
Little A enjoyed church-hopping. He knelt at each, crossed himself and did praying hands. At some churches he sat quietly for a few minutes, but at each one he made for the atlar and tried to climb to the priest's pulpit. Perhaps he wondered why there were no services going on, or perhaps he felt the presence of God was strongest nearest to the altar. Either way, we were pleased with the way he behaved and look forward to continuing this tradition as a family for years to come.
May everyone have a blessed and peaceful Easter!