This is why I have made it a point not to go out of town in this supposed season of reflection. Why bother going somewhere where everyone else is going, unless of course, that is one's idea of a perfect vacation. (I do recognize however that there are those who have to go out of Metro Manila for some needed rest and recreation. It is the only time when members of the family are on vacation at the same time and it is a perfect time to bond with family members someplace where food does not have to come in styropor boxes).
The last time I went out of town for the holy week was nine years ago. I got convinced to join some friends to spend some time baking under the sun at San Juan, La Union. This was when the potentials of the town as a surfing destination was still unheard of and it was still unthinkable to imagine the President being photographed or shown on TV going berserk on top of a surfboard. We tried to get out of Manila as early as we could - at the ungodly hour of 1am on a Holy Thursday. Tough luck because it seemed everyone else and their cousin had the same idea. It took us twelve loooong hours to get there. It was sheer bedlam at the North Expressway and at the Tarlac highway. While sitting inside a car whose carburator was threatening to go kaput any moment, we pondered helplessly on the question as to whose suffering was worse, ours or those of the penitents who passed us by. At least the penitents appeared to have some meaningful reason to be out there.
Since then, I have resolved never to inflict the same torture on myself ever again.
I have never been to Boracy or Puerto Galera or Baguio on a Holy Week. I have been informed that people hie off to these and other similar places to... party!!!. For instance, I am told that at Boracay, people get wasted and that at Puerto Galera, they hold an annual Miss Gay Philippines contest right on Good Friday and that Globe and Smart banners compete with the landscape. I don't know what these make of us as a supposedly devout Catholic country.
I plan to join the family in going around churches on Thursday for the traditional visita iglesia even if I actually dread the thought of having to brave the makeshift Jollibee, Shakey's, and Greenwich stalls that are bound to clog the entrance of the more popular churches. Sigh.
But at least I will have some time in my hands to read, read, read. And maybe, if the right mood hits me, I must just sit through the whole second and third seasons of The Sopranos on DVD (they have been sitting on top of my DVD set for at least a year now).
I hope you all have a meaningful holy week.