Holy Week in Philippines a real tourist destination
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - April 16, 2019 - 12:00am

Yes, the Holy Week is now upon us and it is high time that we slowly disengage from today’s issues, especially about politics. Though, we are in the middle of the mid-term elections, it is not the time for us to celebrate Holy Week with our human bodies, but rather think as spiritual beings. Yesterday morning, the Sons of David held its annual recollection, this time with Fr. Carmelo Diola who gave us a great spiritual recollection that for instance, we can never say that we were accidentally born, but rather God created us even with our parents not knowing or realizing it.

The Freeman also came up with a reminder from Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma to Catholics on Palm Sunday who said that Holy Week for Catholics is not time to have a vacation. However, I’m sure that many Catholics already planned their vacation, but like it or not, as Msgr. Palma pointed out, “Holy Week observance is already part of our Christian life wherein we reflect and pray before Him.”

For my Holy Week presentation on my talkshow Straight from the Sky, I had Fr. Ernesto Javier who at the end of our talk urged the Faithful Catholic that Holy Week is special for you and me. Indeed, it is true… that in the end, God would receive our souls and judge us according to his mercy and what we have done for others when we were still alive. So let us all act more spiritual this week, especially this coming Maundy Thursday when the Catholic Church celebrates the institution of the Holy Eucharist and celebrate the Feast of the Holy Orders.

But for me, the best teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ for Holy Thursday was when he told his disciples to sit down while he washed their feet. This is a great teaching on humility where the Catholic Church allows the Laity to sit down as 12 apostles while the priest washes their feet. We shall be talking more about this in our Holy Thursday column.

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While it is already Holy Week, we must read what our security officials announced the other day when it confirmed the death of Owaydah Marohombsar, alias Abu Dar, the Maute group leader who was among the four terrorists killed by government troops during an encounter in Tuburan, Lanao del Sur last March 14. As Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and officials of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division found out, the DNA tests conducted on Dar’s body by US Forensic experts prove that it was the body of Abu Dar, the only terrorist leader who escaped the forces of the AFP when it took back and liberated Marawi City from the Islamic State-linked Maute group in 2017.

While we should not be elated over his death because it is Holy Week, at least we know that the ISIS inspired group can no longer fight to get back Marawi from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Abu Dar was the successor of Isnilon Hapilon, the emir of IS in Southeast Asia who was also killed in Marawi along with the other Maute brothers in Marawi City. With this news, there is no more credible leader to bring the IS back into Marawi City. This is good news indeed and a great victory for the Armed Forces in its fight against terrorism.

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With Holy Week already with us, the Department of Tourism (DOT) is offering the public an array of affordable destinations to visit this summer, including sites in Metro Manila for those who are planning a “staycation.” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the historic Intramuros in Manila is the perfect place to visit as it hosts century-old churches. At least in Cebu City, Maundy Thursday is perfect in the sense that most of Cebu City have their churches with a short ride or a good walk for the coming Visita Iglesia, which for me is something that foreign tourists can truly enjoy watching when they see Catholic Cebuanos who do not travel for Holy Week… do their Visita Iglesia with their friends, subdivision neighbors or communities, something that foreign tourists do not see in their own homes.

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Another killing happened in Cebu City last Thursday night, when a shooting incident happened at a coffee shop on F. Ramos Street and killed an award-winning homegrown barista named John Michael Hermoso, 29, whom we learned already packed his bags for Boston Massachusetts where he was set to compete in the 2019 World Coffee Championships in just a few days. Also killed with Hermoso was Kis Tryvl Ramos, 21, who was supposed to graduate with a degree in psychology from the University of the Philippines-Cebu and two other employees, Sherwin Dean Rivera, 23, and Jerome Amada, who were considered collateral damage. Let us hope that the police would find the killer in the CCTV footage near the coffee shop.

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Email: vsbobita@gmail.com

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