Two years ago, together with Eric, we went on a Holy Week trip to the northern reaches of Luzon and traveled from Manila to Ilocos, then to several spots in Cagayan province. As it was Good Friday, we made Gonzaga, a sleepy town just before Sta. Ana, our last stop.
It was hot and humid, as expected in this part of the Philippines, but at least, it was bearable compared to staying in Tuguegarao City. The streets are almost always deserted except for passing vehicles and the occasional tricycle ferrying passengers within the town.
At past three o’clock in the afternoon, several people have already gathered around the church in preparation for the Good Friday rituals.
Just like in the rest of Catholic Philippines, they had the Seven Last Words, the kissing of the crucifix followed by the procession and then paying their respects to the Santo Intierro, the image of the Christ lying in state.
But what it lacks in pomp and pageantry, like what happens in some big cities and old towns where various families with their own processional images try to outdo one another in terms of floral arrangements and iconic vestments, Gonzaga’s Catholics do it simple, more solemn and orderly.
Images are put at the back of vehicles in the simplest of attires and floral decors. But the men are separated from the women. They follow the Santo Intierro image while the women follow the Mater Dolorosa. Both sexes following these images in two lines, praying.
When the processional images come back to the church, there’s no jostling for flowers and the line of people paying their respects to the dead Christ is orderly too.
Our gratitute to Tita Marissa, energetic and fun to be with tourism officer of Gonzaga, Cagayan for assisting us during our exploration of the municipality.