Tag Archives: Holy Week


Pangilin/pangingilin is often translated as abstinence, fasting and sacrifice (as found in the internet). In our family and my hometown in Southern Tagalog, pangilin/pangingilin means keeping the holy days holy which may involve abstinence, fasting , sacrifice, praying or simply being quiet, reflecting on the passion of Christ , of faith. It is deference or respect borne of faith.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Pangingilin is practiced during Lent. The Catholic church prescribes, prayer, fasting and alms giving but pangingilin can be done in other ways.

  1. Prayer – We are supposed to pray every day but the church encourages us to be more prayerful or be more mindful of our prayers.
  2. Fasting – this is prescribed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
  3. Alms giving- we can give of ourselves in various ways, our own ways .
  4. Attending retreats and recollections – this can be done prior to Holy Week as a preparation or during Holy Week
  5. Attending masses and church services – there are masses everyday and special masses and services.
  6. Abstinence- abstinence from meat on Ash Wednesday and every Friday of Lent is part of Catholic teaching. Some abstain from activities like smoking, social media , vices, etc.
  7. Not working or doing business – this can be your job or postponing heavy chores. This is reflected in the government declaration of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday as holidays. Only those working in essential jobs are required to work. Metro Manila streets are empty during these days except those which are near churches. In smaller towns and localities, even sari-sari stores (corner stores) suspend business. In recent times, there are a few establishments which open specially the eateries.
  8. Reflection – this can be done in church or in your chosen quiet place.

In the old days pangingilin involved refraining from any form of merry-making like singing loud songs( the song that should be heard is the Pasion) and cracking jokes/laughing out loud. Kids were not allowed to play strenuous or physical games. There were even those who refrained from wearing loud colors, short of wearing black for mourning.

Fittingly, after a week of pangingilin, the observance turns to joy of the Resurrection, the celebration of Easter Sunday.

Pabasa ng Pasion sa New York

Pabása ng Pasyón (Tagalog for “Reading of the Passion“), known simply as Pabása is a Catholic devotion in the Philippines done during Holy Week involving the uninterrupted singing of the Pasyón, an early 16th-century epic poem narrating the life, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The verses are based on the bible and read/sang every Holy Week. (based on wikipedia)

Pabasa was widely practiced in my hometown when I was growing up. A group of people gathered in one house and read the Pasion (I’m using this spelling as it appears on our Pasiong Mahal) continuously. There was free food so many teenagers and kids joined the Pabasa, but the kids are sent home when it’s late because the Pabasa lasts from afternoon to the next morning. Readers would take turns in chanting. There are different tunes or melodies used in our town. It wasn’t obligatory to change tunes but the slightly faster tune was used when the portion on Resurrection was read. There’s a specific tune for the ARAL (lessons).

In our home, reading chanting was within the family . We read the Pasion all throughout the Lenten Season, not in one sitting or continuously. We tried to synchronize the reading with the days of Lent like when it’s Maundy Thursday, we would be reading the section on Maundy Thursday. We sang/chanted as a family and sometimes by pairs taking turns. It was family bonding as it was a religious experience.

It was also a lesson in old Tagalog because even if the Tagalog we spoke in Quezon is considered deep or uncommon by Metro Manilans we found some old Tagalogs that were new to us which our Lola (grandmother) and parents would explain to us. After all the Pasion was made in the 16th century and language evolved. We kids would sometimes find old Tagalog words funny and sometimes couldn’t control our smiles but our Lola would admonish us by looking at us because we should be reflecting on the Passion of Christ and the lessons from it.

My mother carried the tradition when she joined us, her kids, in Metro Manila when we were already working. We bought the Pasion in the picture, 2001 printing, the old one stayed in our hometown. Unlike the old one which was book bound, this one is paper bound.

My aunt, whose daughter migrated to New York after marrying a New York- based Pinoy, brought the tradition there. She lived in New York with her daughter and her husband for some years and during those years, she was able to gather former townmates who were now residing in New York and New Jersey. The Pabasa was rotated among different houses per year so there was a different hos and venue per year. And I had a lovely surprise when I visited my relatives in the US (when my vacation covered Holy Week) and my aunt brought me to a Pabasa. It was like a scene in our hometown in a different setting, very nostalgic and heartwarming as I saw familiar faces gathered doing an activity that I thought was forgotten by those who left the homeland.

Today the tradition lives on. In the new normal some have Pabasa using new technology and families /friends , regardless of location, are able to reflect on the Passion of Christ together, albeit virtually, though separated by distance.