April is here. Christians are once again observing the Season of Lent. In the Philippines, aside from Lent, there are other events and observances listed as holidays for the month of April.
The third day of April marks the observance of “Lailatul Isra Wal Mi Raj” which commemorates the night when Allah took the prophet Mohammad on a journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and then to heaven. The “Araw ng Kagitingan” or Day of Valor is observed on April 9th and on April 18-21, Filipinos observe the “Semana Santa” or Holy Week.
What do these holidays and observances remind us? Why are they important? They remind us about the need to reflect, about renewing our faith, and about the importance of making sacrifices for ourselves and others.
The “Isra and Mi’raj,” also known as “Al Isra’ wal Miraj” is important for us Filipinos to know because it is a holiday observed in the Southern Philippines and the Bangsamoro Region. As one nation, Filipinos must recognize and respect others and the faith practiced by others because respect and recognition lead to better understanding and trust.
The legacy of Spanish colonialism brought us our Roman Catholic faith as well and the many traditions that we have, including Christmas and Lent celebration and observance.
Semana Santa begins on Palm Sunday and continues until Black Saturday. This observance includes Spanish-influenced Catholic rituals such as processions, reading of the passion of Christ, self-sacrifices and abstinence, and atonement. These rituals have been adapted by Filipinos and many have become part of our culture.
Semana Santa is the only time of the year when many businesses are closed or are operated on limited hours. There used to be a time when entertainment was discouraged during Holy Week and when television and radio stations cut air and broadcast hours.
Araw ng Kagitingan, the Day of Valor, marks the greatness of Filipino freedom fighters during World War II. This holiday reminds us that freedom does not come free and that love of country and nationalism should come as freedom’s foundation.
But notice that this year, the month of April may also be a “Season of Paradox” since there is a national election in the Philippines next month (May 13) and the extravaganza and roar of political campaigns have started. Will politicians take a break from campaigning during the Holy Week? Will the loud campaign songs and jingles stop on Good Friday?
I also find it paradoxical that in a country where the majority is Roman Catholic, Filipinos elected a president (Rodrigo Duterte) who has focused much of his wrath on Roman Catholic religious leaders and priests and who has publicly attacked the faith of Roman Catholics. Add to this his bold proclamation about killing people who are suspected of selling or using drugs.
Yet according to surveys, Duterte is still popular in a nation where the people, the government, and the culture are “intertwined with Catholicism.”
Also, what is the meaning of Valor Day if the Philippine government continues to fail to assert the international tribunal ruling on the West Philippine Sea? What is Valor Day if government loans with exorbitant interests are made at the expense of Philippine sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the Filipino working class?
There is another event that we can ponder about during the month of April. The Battle of Mactan, which was fought on April 27, 1521. In that battle, the warriors of Lapu-Lapu, a native chieftain of Mactan Island, overpowered and defeated a Spanish force under the command of Ferdinand Magellan, who was killed during the battle.
There are so many things to reflect about during the month of April for us Filipinos. I hope that many Filipinos will reflect on these events.
I also hope that the registered voters who do reflect can convert their resolutions to wise votes come May 13, 2019 in the Philippines.
Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio “Jojo” Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336. You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.