Stone houses, lighthouses and churches in pleasing harmonywith the emerald green wind-rippled hills on which they stand greets me as ourmotorbike snakes through the serpentine road. Its ruggedly enchanting topography and the serene atmosphere makes Batanes seems such a friendly place. No wonder, it is flocked by tourists during the Lenten season.

695b62ab5ce5ec4141a4a0968d229627Growing up in a devout family and a province where the Holy Week is deeply venerated, I got used to processions largely influenced by Hispanic beliefs and superstitions associated with this religious occasion. So observing the Lenten season in another place such as Batanes is pretty much a new experience to me.
I expected to hear the radio broadcast religious programming as locals do the Stations of the Cross, or procession around the island with lavishly decorated carrozas (carriages) of saints. I prepared to embrace the no-noise-making rule and somber mood everywhere.

958c35b15ef9e78ceba2b275f7195e69“We have no live crucifixion and locals don’t practice self-flagellation here”, reveals Philip Cardona, my local guide.  Pointing to a group of teenagers sauntering, he adds, “But locals especially the younger generation practice the Via Crucis.” During Good Friday, instead of praying while visiting life-sized tableaux depicting the Stations of the Cross – which are usually erected on cliffs and hillsides – pilgrims walk, bike or drive around Batan Island as a form of sacrifice and devotion. At 3:00 P.M., they go to the church to attend the mass.



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