PASAY CITY 01 April 2021 — Thanks to technology and innovation, “Visita Iglesia” or visiting churches, one of the most important religious traditions among Filipino Catholics during the Holy Week, was kept alive despite the pandemic.
Through the fourth leg of “Fiesta Filipinas: An Online Celebration of Philippine Festivals” on 27 March 2021, about 300 live participants and almost 20,000 viewers on Facebook and YouTube were brought to participate in the tradition, this time in Iloilo, a thriving economic hub in Western Visayas and known for its rich architectural landscape, among other things.
Overseas Filipinos and foreigners alike saw and marveled at different seven different churches in Iloilo, particularly the Miagao Church, which was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. This was made possible through a guided virtual tour by the event’s “local wanderer” Chal Lontoc-Del Rosario who brought the province’s charm straight to the homes of the participants.
“We usually do that in the Philippines, we go from church to church…Now it’s totally impossible to go and this Zoom experience has made me feel (like) going back to our beautiful country to see and to feel the experience of going to our churches. I’m really thankful (to the organizers) for bringing us all together in one program,”said Father Gerald Metal, a Filipino priest in Amman, Jordan.
True to its multi-sensory format, the online event also gave the participants a taste of Filipino flavors with the items included in their Fiesta Filipinas kits, which they received from the Philippine Embassy or Consulate General in their area. The kit included food items such as fruit crisps, mango juice, calamansi chocolate, and coco sugar, which the participants enjoyed together during the program.
In one of the interactive part of the virtual Visita Iglesia, participants were asked to decorate their own buri fan through the help of host Paolo Abrera and artist Yana Ofrasio. “I was making my fan, enjoying my sweets…my crisps are empty as you can see. It’s been a great afternoon, thank you.“ said Mr. Jon Lambe, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the ASEAN.
To complete the multi-sensory experience of said virtual trip to the Philippines, participants were ushered in to the auditory experience, during which they were immersed in the tranquil sound of summer in the Philippines, especially during the Holy Week. “I loved the auditory experience as well, it was just nice to relax and calm down and listen to the sounds of the Philippines,” said Mr. Hazza from Australia.
As a tradition, those who completed visiting seven churches during Visita Iglesia are to make a wish at the end of the solemn tour. In keeping with this tradition, the participants shared their respective wishes at the culmination of the virtual tour. A dance teacher Mr. Dinesh Rathod from India said, “I pray that everything goes back to normal,” to which many of the participants agreed.
The monthly online event, which was organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in partnership with the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), is ongoing until June 2021 and is broadcast live on the official Facebook page (https://facebook.com/dfaphl) and YouTube channel (https://youtube.com/dfaphl) of the DFA. The next Fiesta Filipinas event, featuring the Flores de Mayo will be broadcast on 29 May 2021. Interested participants overseas may contact the nearest Philippine Embassy or Philippine Consulate General in their area for more details.
Source: Republic of Philippines Department Of Foreign Affairs