Mu Cang Chai, Yen Bai Province, Vietnam


Mu Cang Chai, Yen Bai Province, Vietnam


Aglipayan Church

The Aglipayan Church, officially the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), or the Philippine Independent Church, follows the same Holy Week observance as the Roman Catholic Church, according to Rev. Fr. Terry Revollido, rector of the Aglipay Central Theological Seminary.

“I don’t see any significant difference because we’re also following biblical narrative,” Revollido said.

Like the Roman Catholics, the Aglipayan faithful begin the Holy Week with Palm Sunday. On Maundy Thursday, there would be a celebration of the Eucharist and the washing of the feet while on Good Friday church activities include the Seven Last Words, veneration of the cross and processions. The Easter Vigil mass is held the evening of Black Saturday and the Salubong very early on Easter Sunday.

The Aglipayan Church, which calls itself the national church of the Philippines, proclaimed its break from the Catholic Church in 1902 by the members of the Unión Obrera Democrática Filipina because of the alleged mistreatment of Filipinos by the Spanish clergy. Although a Christian denomination, the IFI rejects the spiritual authority of the Pope and emphasizes patriotism in its teachings.

The members of the church are called Aglipayans after its first supreme head, Fr. Gregorio Aglipay.

Iglesia ni Cristo

The Iglesia Ni Cristo, another homegrown Christian sect, does not observe Lent or mark the special observances and services of Holy Week, as it believes that the pious customs associated with it derive from pagan traditions.

For instance, it believes that Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week commemorating Christ’s triumphal entry to Jerusalem to fulfill his paschal mystery, has pagan origins. The INC says the palm symbolizes victory, and notes how victorious armies of pagan nations decked themselves and their chariots with palm fronds.

According to the INC, the word Easter was derived by St. Bede from Eastre, a forgotten dawn goddess. Numerous local customs held during Easter, such as the blessing of meat, eggs and other foods the partaking of which was formerly forbidden during Lent, have pagan origins, the INC believes.

The INC members believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and that God made Him Lord and Savior. However, while Jesus Christ is holy and a very special man, he is not God, he is the only mediator of man to God, they say.

They also believe that Christ’s resurrection is the main proof that the dead will rise again. Those in Christ will rise first to be with Him forever in the Holy City. Those who are not of Christ will rise a thousand years after the first resurrection to be cast into the lake of fire.

The INC’s main activities include “worship services”, missionary work and edification. Worship services are usually held on Thursdays and Sundays by every local congregation inside the house of worship. It consists singing, prayer and study of God’s words for proper application in daily living.

The members are happy to fulfill their duty to share the faith by inviting others to attend Bible study sessions and worship services. The INC also uses mass media in spreading its message of hope to a broader audience.

For the spiritual welfare of church members, prayer meetings are held weekly by each group of neighboring households for further instructions in the faith and announcements about church projects and activities. Pastoral visits are also conducted regularly by church officials for prayer and spiritual counseling.

The Iglesia Ni Cristo also holds semi-annual (mid-year and year-end) Pasalamat (thanksgiving) as a sign of gratitude for God’s blessings. As with regular worship services, it consists of hymn-singing, prayers and the study of God’s words.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian denomination whose distinct beliefs are based on their interpretations of the Bible, do not observe Christmas, Easter or other holidays and customs observed by mainstream Christianity.

They believe that Jehovah is the only true God, and Jesus, God’s only begotten Son who served as a redeemer and a ransom sacrifice to pay for the sins of humanity as the only intercessor between God and man.

While Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in commemorating the death of Jesus, the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not share many of the beliefs and practices associated with the Holy Week of Catholics and other Christian denominations. The Witnesses do not practice the Lenten rituals of fasting, or pilgrimage to holy places.

The most important and solemn event for the Jehovah’s Witnesses is the “Lord’s Evening Meal” or “Memorial of Christ’s Death,” commemorated on the date of the Jewish Passover.

“After careful reading and study of the Bible, [the Witnesses] found that this is the only anniversary that Jesus commanded his followers to celebrate. Before dying, he commanded his disciples to keep observing the Last Supper, otherwise called Lord’s Evening Meal, once every year. Jesus’ command to celebrate this occasion can be read in the Bible,” said Dean Jacek of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Philippine branch.

To determine the date of the Memorial each year, the Witnesses follow the Jewish calendar.

“Under the Jewish calendar, Jesus’ death occurred on the evening of Nisan 14, 33 C.E. Last year, the date Nisan 14 fell on March 26, so on this date Jehovah’s Witnesses met together in their building for worship (called Kingdom Halls) all around the earth after sundown. To celebrate, they did exactly what Jesus said should be done. Some 20 million attended the occasion,”  said Jacek. This year’s Memorial was marked on April 14.

Those attending the Memorial with Jehovah’s Witnesses for the first time will see a functional, clean venue devoid of religious symbols.

“There may be some simple flower arrangements, but attendees will not be distracted by gaudy bunting or any party atmosphere,” Jacek noted.

“A qualified speaker will consider in a clear and dignified manner what the Bible says about the occasion. He will help all to understand the meaning of Jesus’ death. A simple ceremony, imitating what Jesus told his apostles to do, will then follow,” he said.

Seventh-day Adventists

The Seventh-Day Adventist Church, a Protestant Christian denomination, does not observe the practices of the Holy Week as Catholics or other Protestant denominations do. Accepting the Bible as the only source of their beliefs, Adventists only observe the practices and faith of the early Christian church.

The church is distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, as the Sabbath, and its emphasis on the second coming (advent) of Jesus Christ.

Adventists believe that the resurrection of Christ that is commemorated at Easter is a historical event of immense importance. But they point out that the Bible only noted that the resurrection occurred on the first day of the week and did not suggest that the resurrection made a new day holy.

Without biblical precedent for making Easter a special day of celebration, Adventists observe only the Sabbath as sacred or holy time because it is the only holy day of the week stated in the Bible.

“We just celebrate Sabbath day as the Lord’s day,” said Bro. Emer Dayo of Lipa Seventh-day Adventist Elementary School in Batangas province.

“The Bible tells us to observe it from (Friday) sunset to (Saturday) sunset. Sabbath is the test of true obedience to the Lord,” he said.

According to the Adventists’ Biblical Research Institute, however, some Adventists have introduced Sunday morning services during Easter. But this does not mean that Sunday is to be considered as holy. Adventists only see Easter as an opportunity to do evangelical outreach without assigning any special religious meaning to the day itself.

United Church of Christ in the Philippines

The United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), a Protestant Christian denomination, observes the same Holy Week practices as that of Roman Catholicism, according to Lowell Tac-An, executive secretary of the organizational ministry of UCCP.

“We also celebrate Palm Sunday with a special form of worship. Then we also observe Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Black Saturday. There is a reenactment of the Last Supper and we also do the seven last words. Easter Sunday serves as the culmination of the whole Holy Week celebration,” Tac-an said.

“There isn’t much difference because we also follow what’s written in the bible,” he added.

According to Tac-an, one difference between the UCCP with the Roman Catholic Church is the that the formers does not believe in purgatory.

“In the basic protestant doctrines, we also believe in life after death. But there is no belief in purgatory,” he said.

Aside from Holy Week, the UCCP also observes other religious Christian festivities like Christmas and All Soul’s Day.

Tac-an said that the UCCP is divided into seven jurisdictions. Each jurisdiction has their own bishops. The UCCP is led by a head bishop who is elected every four years.

(Reports from Almi I. Atienza, Ana Roa, Marielle Medina, Rafael L. Antonio and Kate Pedroso, Inquirer Research)


Royal Thai Court Clothing


Royal Thai Court Clothing


Holy Week in the Philippines

Kwaresma is Lent. It is the season when Filipinos remember Christ’s passion (his suffering and death) and resurrection.  It starts on Ash Wednesday, forty days before Easter Sunday. On this day, you will see Catholic Filipinos returning from church  with ash smudged on their foreheads in the shape of a cross.   If you don’t have the mark, you will be asked if you have attended Mass.

Semana Santa (Holy Week) is from Palm Sunday to Black Saturday, then Easter Sunday. It is traditionally a solemn occasion in the Philippines,  a time for serious atonement.

Holy Week is when many people perform holy rites in fulfillment of a vow they made when they asked God a favor, such as a cure for an illness. Priests and religious statues are dressed in purple to symbolize gloom. Devout Catholics go to church everyday; some fast.

Palm Sunday commemorates the entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, Filipino Catholics bring palaspas (palm fronds) to church to be blessed by the priests.  Then they bring the fronds back home with them.

For most of the week, especially after Tuesday, the towns are eerily quiet with TV and radio stations going off the air and no loud noises or revelry whatsoever. Catholics stop eating meat, turning to fish, and the more devout ones go on a completely liquid diet. Many businesses are closed, so make sure you have supplies, especially food, stocked up.

The traditional pabasa (the “reading” or chanting of verses about the suffering of Christ) starts on Sunday and ends on Maundy Thursday, which is the day when the washing of the feet is celebrated.

Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion and death of  Christ. On this day, you will see religious figures being carried through the towns on top of carrozas (carriages). The religious images and statues are veiled in black in mourning of the death of Jesus.

The most striking feature of  Holy Week celebrations in the Philippines is the sight of Filipinos publicly whipping themselves. These are reenactments of the torture and death of Jesus. Some Filipinos not only whip their backs into a bloody mess, they also have their feet and hands nailed to a wooden cross. Tourists come from all over the world for the sight!  In Manila, Tondo is the place to see these flagellants. Outside the capital, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija are famous for their flagellants who cover their faces with white cotton hoods. Crowns of thorns are placed on their heads to cause blood to drip.

Among Filipino superstitions on Good Friday is the prohibition against children playing. This is because they might injure themselves and not have their wounds heal. You will always be reminded that during this time when Jesus is dead, and so everything is awry and bad things are apt to happen.

Black Saturday is when Christ is entombed. Filipinos spend the day preparing for the night vigil leading up to Easter Sunday.

Easter Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection of Christ. At  four o’clock in the morning, Filipinos do a salubong ceremony commemorating how the Virgin Mary met her son Jesus who has come back to life. Her image will be brought to the image of the Christ at the local church. Flower petals will be rained down on them.  Everyone is happy that Jesus is alive again and that the world is back right. On Easter day, grocery stores re-open and you can buy food.  

Source: x


Ocean waves crash against a decaying wooden chair stuck in the sand, Hoi An, Vietnam, Southeast Asia

© Boris Zuliani / NOI Pictures

Vietnam & Southeast Asia Stock Photography


Vietnam & Southeast Asia Stock Photography


Gesang Martohartono - Bengawan Solo



More rare pre-Khmer Rouge Cambodian from the Cambodian Vintage Music Archive



"The folk-tales in this volume, which were collected in the Philippines during the years from 1908 to 1914, have not appeared in print before. They are given to the public now in the hope that they will be no mean or uninteresting addition to the volumes of Oriental Märchen already in existence. The Philippine archipelago, from the very nature of its geographical position and its political history, cannot but be a significant field to the student of popular stories. Lying as it does at the very doors of China and Japan, connected as it is ethnically with the Malayan and Indian civilizations, Occidentalized as it has been for three centuries and more, it stands at the junction of East and West. It is therefore from this point of view that these tales have been put into a form convenient for reference. Their importance consists in their relationship to the body of world fiction.

The language in which these stories are presented is the language in which they were collected and written down,—English. Perhaps no apology is required for not printing the vernacular herewith; nevertheless an explanation might be made. In the first place, the object in recording these tales has been a literary one, not a linguistic one. In the second place, the number of distinctly different languages represented by the originals might be baffling even to the reader interested in linguistics, especially as our method of approach has been from the point of view of cycles of stories, and not from the point of view of the separate tribes telling them. In the third place, the form of prose tales among the Filipinos is not stereotyped; and there is likely to be no less variation between two Visayan versions of the same story, or between a Tagalog and a Visayan, than between the native form and the English rendering. Clearly Spanish would not be a better medium than English: for to-day there is more English than Spanish spoken in the Islands; besides, Spanish never penetrated into the very lives of the peasants, as English penetrates to-day by way of the school-house. I have endeavored to offset the disadvantages [xi]of the foreign medium by judicious and painstaking directions to my informants in the writing-down of the tales. Only in very rare cases was there any modification of the original version by the teller, as a concession to Occidental standards. Whatever substitutions I have been able to detect I have removed. In practically every case, not only to show that these are bona fide native stories, but also to indicate their geographical distribution, I have given the name of the narrator, his native town, and his province. In many cases I have given, in addition, the source of his information. I am firmly convinced that all the tales recorded here represent genuine Filipino tradition so far as the narrators are concerned, and that nothing has been “manufactured” consciously.

But what is “native,” and what is “derived”? The folklore of the wild tribes—Negritos, Bagobos, Igorots—is in its way no more “uncontaminated” than that of the Tagalogs, Pampangans, Zambals, Pangasinans, Ilocanos, Bicols, and Visayans. The traditions of these Christianized tribes present as survivals, adaptations, modifications, fully as many puzzling and fascinating problems as the popular lore of the Pagan peoples. It should be remembered, that, no matter how wild and savage and isolated a tribe may be, it is impossible to prove that there has been no contact of that tribe with the outside civilized world. Conquest is not necessary to the introduction of a story or belief. The crew of a Portuguese trading-vessel with a genial narrator on board might conceivably be a much more successful transmitting-medium than a thousand praos full of brown warriors come to stay. Clearly the problem of analyzing and tracing the story-literature of the Christianized tribes differs only in degree from that connected with the Pagan tribes. In this volume I have treated the problem entirely from the former point of view, since there has been hitherto a tendency to neglect as of small value the stories of the Christianized peoples. However, for illustrative material I have drawn freely on works dealing with the non-Christian tribes, particularly in the case of stories that appear to be native; and I shall use the term “native” to mean merely “existent in the Islands before the Spaniards went there.”

In the notes, I have attempted to answer for some of the tales the question as to what is native and what imported. I have not been able to reach a decision in the case of all, because [vii]of a lack of sufficient evidence. While the most obvious sources of importation from the Occident have been Spain and Portugal, the possibility of the introduction of French, Italian, and even Belgian stories through the medium of priests of those nationalities must not be overlooked. Furthermore, there is a no inconsiderable number of Basque sailors to be found on the small inter-island steamers that connect one end of the archipelago with the other. Even a very cursory glance at the tales in this collection reveals the fact that many of them are more or less close variants and analogues of tales distributed throughout the world. How or when this material reached the Philippines is hard to say. The importation of Arabian stories, for example, might have been made over many routes. The Hindoo beast-tales, too, might have quite circled the globe in their progress from east to west, and thus have been introduced to the Filipinos by the Spaniards and Portuguese. Again, the germs of a number of widespread Märchen may have existed in the archipelago long before the arrival of the Europeans, and, upon the introduction of Occidental civilization and culture, have undergone a development entirely consistent with the development that took place in Europe, giving us as a result remarkably close analogues of the Western tales. This I suspect to have been the case of some of our stories where, parallel with the localized popular versions, exist printed romances (in the vernacular) with the mediaeval flavor and setting of chivalry. To give a specific case: the Visayans, Bicols, and Tagalogs in the coast towns feared the raids of Mindanao Mussulmans long before white feet trod the shores of the Islands, and many traditions of conflicts with these pirates are embedded in their legends. The Spaniard came in the sixteenth century, bringing with him stories of wars between Christians and Saracens in Europe. One result of this close analogy of actual historical situation was, I believe, a general tendency to levelling: that is, native traditions of such struggles took on the color of the Spanish romances; Spanish romances, on the other hand, which were popularized in the Islands, were very likely to be “localized.” A maximum of caution and a minimum of dogmatism, then, are imperative, if one is to treat at all scientifically the relationship of the stories of a composite people like the Filipinos to the stories of the rest of the world.

[viii]A word might be added as to the nature of the tales. I have included only “hero tales, serious and droll,” beast stories and fables, and pourquoi or “just-so” stories. Myths, legends, and fairy-tales (including all kinds of spirit and demon stories) I have purposely excluded, in order to keep the size of the volume within reasonable limits. I have, however, occasionally drawn upon my manuscript collection of these types to illustrate a native superstition or custom”.

Columbia University,

May, 1918.     

Dean S. Fansler


Sunset cruise on the Mekong - Pakse, Laos - 2014 


Sunset cruise on the Mekong - Pakse, Laos - 2014 


The month of April is regarded as the grandest for Thais. Aside from the intense heat of summer, this is the month when the well-known “Songkran Festival. Songkran is Thailand New Year celebrated. Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, has a normal number of passersby during ordinary days. However, when the 13th day of April comes, the backpacking district, Khao San Road becomes impassable because of the thousands of people including natives and travelers who arrive in the place to join the celebration.

Although the festival is done in the whole country, it still varies from region to region. In every region, there are featured head turning events that even other nationalities appreciate. Yet, if there is one common thing to be seen in Songkran festival, that would be the water fight.

Songkran Festival - Creative Commons by JJ Harrison

Songkran Festival – Creative Commons by JJ Harrison

As far as the history is concerned, this is the longest water throwing event in the world as this is being celebrated for three consecutive days – starting April 13 to April 15. Just in case you are in Thailand in Songkran 2014, don’t be surprised to see people carrying containers and throwing water to others. Even children are not exempted to get wet during the said event. Like adults out there, children are also equipped with their water guns and do the same ritual.

In spite of being a fun event, Songkran festival also focuses on enriching religious intentions. A day after the event, while men are busy working, housewives dedicate their time in cleaning just every mess at home for they believe that it is a good luck for the present year. Along with this, they also wash every Buddha image in their houses, pay a visit to monasteries and offer food to monks.

For those who have no idea about the event, Songkran is the counterpart of New Year that is being celebrated in western countries. Thailand, similar to other nations, is also divided into regions and when it comes to Songkran celebration, there are highlights in every region that everyone shouldn’t miss when visiting the place. Actually, there are top five places to visit during the festival such as:

1Bangkok Songkran Festival

Situated in the heart of Thailand, Bangkok also top favorites of Songkran Festival. The water fights will be held in various spots around Banglamphu, most notably Khao San Road, Rattanakosin Royal Square, Phra Athit Road, Santhichaiprakan and Wisut Krasat. There will be plenty of action so remember to bring along your bucket or water pistol! You should also leave any valuable electronics at home or in your hotel as there is a very high chance that they could get damaged from all the water being thrown around. Simply place some money into a waterproof bag and then head on out to enjoy the fun.

2Chiang Mai Songkran Festival

Chiang Mai, the Rose of the North, is renowned for one of the grandest Songkran celebrations in Thailand. Visitors can take part in the opening ceremony for the Songkran Festival with a wonderful parade around Chiang Mai city. They can also go local and pour some jasmine-scented water on a Buddha image and elders, enjoy Lanna-style cultural performances and traditions, and try out various northern foods along the streets.

3Pattaya Songkran Festival

Pattaya is topographically situated in a place surrounded by rice crops. For them, Songkran festival is celebrated to ask for rain especially that planting days is nearly to come. There is a parade in the city during the day of the celebration. It will end up to the Beach Road where cultural events are to be shown. However, the grand finale also ends up with the water fight event. Being in the place, you might get surprised that a pail of water could be thrown to you. Thus, you should have your own water cannon to protect yourself.

4Phuket Songkran Festival

After the disaster that happened several years ago, Phuket still joins the praise of good luck in the 2014’s Songkran festival. Apart from the refreshing soak from barrels, water guns and buckets, folks in Phuket visit their family members and offer a prayer. Plus, they add Thai fragrance to their water and use it to clean their houses, Buddha images and household shrines which they believe is good luck.

Visitors can join in a communal Thai New Year merit-making ceremony, witness a procession of Phra Phuttha Sihing Buddha images along Patong Beach, and pay homage to elders with scented lustral water. A range of events will be held at Loma (Dolphin) Public Park and the port, and the Jungceylon activity plaza overlooking Patong Beach.

5Khon Kaen Songkran Festival

Situated in the heart of Northeast Thailand, Khon Kaen has brought lots of surprises this Songkran festival 2014. Being known as the “Sticky Rice” capital, the city also has several forms of entertainment to be awaited such as the parade of decorated ox carts, food fair, Petanque competition and many more.

Whether for fun, for religious worship or for any purpose, Thailand has lots of hidden things waiting to be discovered. The scenic views, the rich tradition, friendliest people and extraordinary dishes all are combined to put a smile on everyone’s face. However, it’s not just enough to read about their culture. In Songkran festival, you are invited and always welcome to join the water splashing phenomena.  April is just a few months away. Grab this opportunity before you run out of time!