So here it is, my first Wandering Wednesday post. Well, back in May, I posted about my 12-hour layover in Taipei on my way to Seoul. I went out of the airport and toured some of the city’s famous tourist sites. I had a great time that I decided I will go back…perhaps in December.
I decided to go back to the airport at around 3 pm even if my flight was not until 8:30 pm. The clouds were getting darker and I knew I only have a few minutes / seconds before the rain will pour. True enough, big drops of water came rushing down when I got to the Taipei Main Station where I took the bus back to the airport.
The moment I stepped back to the airport, I had only one thing in mind — SHOWER! Haha. At that time, my last shower was before I left Canada and that was more than 24 hours ago. Great thing that I have access to the EVA Air Lounge so I was able to freshen up. One would think that I probably am waiting for my flight to Seoul, my ultimate destination for this trip. However, I am actually transiting to another country. It is a country that holds a special place in my heart. It is the place where I was born and where my family lives. It is the Philippines.
My family was not aware that I am transiting to the Philippines. They are travelling to Korea too and they thought I will just meet them in Seoul. However, I figured since I am already travelling to Asia, I might as well visit them. Mom’s reaction upon seeing me at our doorsteps was priceless!
It was Holy Week when I got to the Philippines, Good Friday to be exact. For those not in the know, Holy Week is when Christians, especially Catholics, commemorate Jesus’ death and resurrection. It starts on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter. It has no definite date, but usually falls between March and April.
When I was growing up, a part of me hated this part of the Catholic calendar because there are so many rules that you need to observe and so many things you cannot do. For starters, you cannot eat meat from Wednesday till Saturday. You also cannot wear anything red and you should not be talking or laughing loudly because, as my grandmother would say, “god is dead”. The most annoying part though is that the tv networks are also off the air, so you are stuck with listening to AM radio!
Ever since I left the Philippines, I started to let go of some of these Holy Week traditions (and most other events in the Catholic calendar). To me, most of these are just practices handed through the generations by our dear abuelitas (grandmothers) that really has no biblical / doctrinal basis. However, even if my inquisitive mind have so many questions about religion and the Catholic faith, I still do appreciate that these practices are already part and parcel of the Filipino identity. As such, I do not mind people still doing these things to express their faith. And I do enjoy participating in (some) of them as well — just like during this weekend trip, I joined the Good Friday procession where the images of biblical characters during Jesus’ time is paraded throughout the town. It is actually a very common practice for Catholics as I have also witnessed this in Cusco, Peru. And I know a huge tourist draw in Antigua, Guatemala are their Good Friday processions too. Anyway, here are some pictures from our town’s Good Friday procession and I also added a short clip.
These processions, together with other Christian practices in the Philippines actually make the country a bit of an odd ball. In a sea of Buddhist temples and pagodas, Islamic mosques or Shinto shrines, you have these group of islands which are dominated by century old churches and hispanic style towns. My personal opinion about the church and religion in general has since changed, but I think this oddity of the Philippines can be used by the government to get a bigger slice of the tourism pie in Asia. I am not saying that focus should be made on the hispanicized Philippines alone, but this could very well be a good selling point. It is a piece of Spain / Latin America transplanted to the Pacific. I mean just look at some of these photos.
I thought my weekend in the Philippines would be uneventful, but boy I was wrong! After the procession, we got home and I actually felt I was about to get sick. I did not mind it and figured it was just due to fatigue from all the travelling. However, the next morning, I was burning with fever with my temperature already pushing to almost 40 degrees celsius! I decided it is time to go to the hospital. Several tests were done and their initial finding was pneumonia. The doctor wanted me to stay, but I told her to just give me a shot. They did and my fever subsided.
However, when we got back home, fever started kicking in again. I just slept and hoped it would go away. At around midnight, I asked my parents to bring me to the hospital as my fever is not going down and I am very concerned that I will not be able to get well in time for my flight to Seoul. Haha! See, even when I was sick, all I can think of is travelling. Anyway, wait for my next post to see if I was admitted to the hospital and whether I was able to make it to Seoul.