HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 64 no. 1 (2018)

Holy Week Processions in the Philippines: A Devotional and Artistic Tradition on the Rise (The Case of the Parish Church of Our Lady of the Abandoned in Marikina)

Juan O. Mesquida



Holy Week in the Philippines is the premiere week of the year that mobilizes the greatest numbers of individuals as actors, audience members, and participants (William Peterson, Places for Happiness, p. 19). Processions of religious floats are one of the main activities during the week, when Filipino Catholics commemorate the passion of Jesus Christ. Since some decades ago the number of carrozas, floats with one or several wooden statues related to the Passion, has been growing exponentially. At present, there is little scholarly research on this important phenomenon of Philippine culture. Attempting to explain possible reasons for this growing interest using history and cultural anthropology, this study concentrates on the case of the carrozas in the Parish Church of Our Lady of the Abandoned in Marikina City. A locality with a long history, Marikina can well be a good model for further studies in other urban centers. Looking into the past to explain possible origins of this contemporary phenomenon, this research has delved into the history of Holy Week processions in Spain, during the early Christianization of the Philippines, and the hybridization, or adaptation, that took place locally in the 19th century. It ends by analyzing the many motivations that have led to what can be considered a “revolution” of carroza sponsoring in the second half of the 20th century.