PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

MAUNDY THURSDAY IN PH, 11 AM: 2-KM TRAFFIC BUILDS UP AT SCTEX's MABALACAT TOLL PLAZA


A 2-kilometer queue of vehicles has developed along the Subic–Clark–Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), toward the Mabalact Toll Plaza, prompting the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) to deploy extra tollbooths and mobile tellers to ease the traffic congestion.
On-the-road tellers have been deployed at the Mabalacat entry plaza to facilitate toll collection, the North Luzon Expressway tweeted via @nlextraffic. Thirty temporary tollbooths have also been set up in the area. Traffic flow along other toll plazas along SCTEX, however, remain light. READ ON...

ALSO: Full text of Pope Francis’s homily at the Chrism Mass (by Pope Francis)


In Chrism Mass homily the Holy Father urges priests not to give in to weariness This is the full text of Pope Francis’s homily at the Chrism Mass in St Peter’s Basilica, courtesy of Vatican Radio: “My hand shall ever abide with him, my arms also shall strengthen him” (Ps 89:21). This is what the Lord means when he says: “I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him” (v 20). It is also what our Father thinks whenever he “encounters” a priest. And he goes on to say: “My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him… He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God and the rock of my salvation”’ (vv 24, 26). It is good to enter with the Psalmist into this monologue of our God. He is talking about us, his priests, his pastors. But it is not really a monologue, since he is not the only one speaking. The Father says to Jesus: “Your friends, those who love you, can say to me in a particular way: ‘You are my Father’” (cf Jn 14:21). If the Lord is so concerned about helping us, it is because he knows that the task of anointing his faithful people is demanding; it can tire us. We experience this in so many ways: from the ordinary fatigue brought on by our daily apostolate to the weariness of sickness, death and even martyrdom.

ALSO: Holy Eucharist not a church invention


Catholic devotees pray at the Sta. Cruz Church during the Visita Iglesia on Holy Thursday, April 2, 2015. The Visita Iglesia is a Lenten tradition calling for the faithful to pray at seven churches. Danny Pata

ALSO: Five things to do during a Holy Week ‘staycation’


Penitents carry crosses in Tarlac town  Not so long ago, Holy Week was a time of quietude and reflection. Everything was closed and nothing was on TV, except for religious programming and noontime show Lenten specials (and later on, those "Seventh Heaven" marathons). People stayed home, marinated on the couch, and pretty much just twiddled their fingers and counted the hours until the world (and Jesus) came back to life. That’s not the case anymore. These days, we’re spoiled for choice with entertainment-slash-time-killing options. Some malls and restaurants stay open (sacrilege!), there are countless retreats/recollections invitations, and, of course, for a lot of people, this is their only chance to escape the city and fly off to the beach or mountains. It’s the yearly sojourn that’s supposed to recharge the body and reinvigorate the spirit. READ MORE...

ALSO: Devotees visit life-size Station of the Cross images in Albay


9th Station: Way of the Cross at Kawa-Kawa Hill (Ligao City) Philippines / Bicol / Bonga / Ligao City 
Devotees have started flocking to a mountain in Legazpi City in Albay to visit life-size images depicting the Stations of the Cross. The images are at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in Barangay Buragwis, GMA Bicol reported on Wednesday. Many consider the 106-step path up the mountain as a form of penance. The area's caretaker said the number of visitors is expected to peak on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Some devotees, however, decided to visit early. "Maganda po tapos mapresko po rito," said visitor Maricel Basco. Caretaker Mary Grace Silvestre said visitors had been going to the area since 1995. "Inaayos po namin dito. Nililinisan po namin yung mga gamit na gagamitin ng mga taong bibisita rito," she said. — Joel Locsin/BM, GMA News THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Fair weather across PHL on Maundy Thursday but gale warnings up in eastern Luzon


Chedeng satellite image as of April 1 (11 p.m.) Chedeng satellite image as of April 1 (11 p.m.). Typhoon Chedeng is over 1,000 kilometers east of the Philippines in this satellite image PAGASA posted on its official Facebook page late evening of April 1 (PHL time). PAGASA No more than isolated rain showers and thunderstorms are expected across the country on Thursday, although state weather agency PAGASA raised gale warnings over the eastern seaboard of Southern Luzon due to Typhoon Chedeng (Maysak).
PAGASA's 5 a.m. bulletin said the whole archipelago will experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms. Also, PAGASA said moderate to strong winds from the north-northeast will prevail over the eastern section of Southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The coastal waters along these areas will be moderate to rough, it added. Elsewhere, winds will be light to moderate coming from the northeast to east with slight to moderate seas. READ MORE....

ALSO: Tourists start leaving Aurora ahead of ‘Chedeng’


CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – A number of local and foreign tourists started leaving the Aurora capital of Baler on Thursday after cutting short their stay and canceling reservations in hotels and transient homes although the local government has not ordered any evacuation amid preparations for the landfall of Typhoon “Chedeng,” officials said. Baler Mayor Nelianto Bihasa and engineer Elson Egargue, executive director of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, confirmed the withdrawal of tourists, citing reports from the provincial tourism office. They were still verifying exactly how many tourists remained in Baler, which is popular for its beaches and surfing spots, or in seven other towns of Aurora. “But based on what we see, we have many tourists this time around. We were expecting around 10,000 for the Holy Week break,” Bihasa told the INQUIRER in a telephone interview on Thursday afternoon. Tourists have been informed of the incoming typhoon, which was announced through a mobile sound system in the town, he said. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

2-km. traffic builds up at SCTEX’s Mabalacat Toll Plaza

MANILA, APRIL 6, 2015 (GMA NEWS TV) April 2, 2015 11:42am - A 2-kilometer queue of vehicles has developed along the Subic–Clark–Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), toward the Mabalact Toll Plaza, prompting the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) to deploy extra tollbooths and mobile tellers to ease the traffic congestion.

On-the-road tellers have been deployed at the Mabalacat entry plaza to facilitate toll collection, the North Luzon Expressway tweeted via @nlextraffic.

Thirty temporary tollbooths have also been set up in the area.

Traffic flow along other toll plazas along SCTEX, however, remain light.

READ ON.....

“ SCTEX update: Mabalacat TP Entry (H) approx 2kms queue. Tipo TP (LM) 15 veh/lane. All other toll plazas @SCTEx_Travel entry/exit(L)

— TollRegulatoryBoard (@TRBSAFE) April 2, 2015

The Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) has advised motorists going to Tarlac and farther along Northern Luzon to take the Sta. Ines exit and then pass through MacArthur Highway-Mabalacat and enter the Dolores entry of SCTEX to avoid the Mabalacat Toll Plaza due to heavy traffic.

Temporary tollbooths and ambulant tellers have been deployed to ease the traffic along several points of the North and South Luzon Expressways (NLEX and SLEX) Thursday morning as travelers head for the provinces.

The traffic situation along the northbound lanes from San Simon to Dau of NLEX has become moderate to heavy as of mid-morning Thursday.

“ Travelling South, exact toll payments are being sold at Shell SB for faster transactions. pic.twitter.com/mRLYsWVCN9

— TollRegulatoryBoard (@TRBSAFE) April 2, 2015

Moderate traffic has also been noted along the northbound lanes from the Viaduct area to San Fernando.

As of 10:26 a.m., a queue stretching around 100 meters has formed along the southbound lane of the Ayala Toll Plaza. A counterflow lane was opened and mobile tellers have been deployed.

Along SLEX, traffic flow remains light through the northbound and southbound lanes of the Calamba Toll Plaza. Mobile tellers have been put on standby to avoid traffic congestion.

To hasten toll payment, motorists can purchase exact toll payments sold at Shell gasoline stations along the SLEX southbound lane, the board said. – Xian Arcangel//VS, GMA News


CATHOLICHERALD.CO.UK

Full text of Pope Francis’s homily at the Chrism Mass (by Pope Francis) posted Thursday, 2 Apr 2015


Pope Francis celebrates the Chrism Mass in St Peter's Basilica (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

In Chrism Mass homily the
Holy Father urges priests not to give in to weariness

This is the full text of Pope Francis’s homily at the Chrism Mass in St Peter’s Basilica, courtesy of Vatican Radio:

“My hand shall ever abide with him, my arms also shall strengthen him” (Ps 89:21).

This is what the Lord means when he says: “I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him” (v 20).

It is also what our Father thinks whenever he “encounters” a priest. And he goes on to say: “My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him… He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God and the rock of my salvation”’ (vv 24, 26).

It is good to enter with the Psalmist into this monologue of our God. He is talking about us, his priests, his pastors. But it is not really a monologue, since he is not the only one speaking.

The Father says to Jesus: “Your friends, those who love you, can say to me in a particular way: ‘You are my Father’” (cf Jn 14:21). If the Lord is so concerned about helping us, it is because he knows that the task of anointing his faithful people is demanding; it can tire us.

We experience this in so many ways: from the ordinary fatigue brought on by our daily apostolate to the weariness of sickness, death and even martyrdom.

CONTINUE READING...
The tiredness of priests! Do you know how often I think about this weariness which all of you experience?

I think about it and I pray about it, often, especially when I am tired myself. I pray for you as you labour amid the people of God entrusted to your care, many of you in lonely and dangerous places.

Our weariness, dear priests, is like incense which silently rises up to heaven (cf Ps 141:2; Rev 8:3-4). Our weariness goes straight to the heart of the Father.

Know that the Blessed Virgin Mary is well aware of this tiredness and she brings it straight to the Lord.

As our Mother, she knows when her children are weary, and this is her greatest concern. “Welcome! Rest, my child. We will speak afterwards…”.

“Whenever we draw near to her, she says to us: “Am I not here with you, I who am your Mother?” (cf Evangelii Gaudium, 286). And to her Son she will say, as she did at Cana, “They have no wine” (Jn 2:3).

It can also happen that, whenever we feel weighed down by pastoral work, we can be tempted to rest however we please, as if rest were not itself a gift of God.

We must not fall into this temptation. Our weariness is precious in the eyes of Jesus who embraces us and lifts us up. “Come to me, all who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28).

Whenever a priest feels dead tired, yet is able to bow down in adoration and say: “Enough for today Lord”, and entrust himself to the Father, he knows that he will not fall but be renewed.

The one who anoints God’s faithful people with oil is also himself anointed by the Lord: “He gives you a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit” (cf. Is 61:3).

Let us never forget that a key to fruitful priestly ministry lies in how we rest and in how we look at the way the Lord deals with our weariness. How difficult it is to learn how to rest! This says much about our trust and our ability to realize that that we too are sheep. A few questions can help us in this regard.

Do I know how to rest by accepting the love, gratitude and affection which I receive from God’s faithful people? Or, once my pastoral work is done, do I seek more refined relaxations, not those of the poor but those provided by a consumerist society?

Is the Holy Spirit truly “rest in times of weariness” for me, or is he just someone who keeps me busy? Do I know how to seek help from a wise priest?

Do I know how to take a break from myself, from the demands I make on myself, from my self-seeking and from my self-absorption?

Do I know how to spend time with Jesus, with the Father, with the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, with my patron saints, and to find rest in their demands, which are easy and light, and in their pleasures, for they delight to be in my company, and in their concerns and standards, which have only to do with the greater glory of God?

Do I know how to rest from my enemies under the Lord’s protection?

Am I preoccupied with how I should speak and act, or do I entrust myself to the Holy Spirit, who will teach me what I need to say in every situation? Do I worry needlessly, or, like Paul, do I find repose by saying: “I know him in whom I have placed my trust” (2 Tim 1:12)?

Let us return for a moment to what today’s liturgy describes as the work of the priest: to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom to prisoners and healing to the blind, to offer liberation to the downtrodden and to announce the year of the Lord’s favour. Isaiah also mentions consoling the broken-hearted and comforting the afflicted.

These are not easy or purely mechanical jobs, like running an office, building a parish hall or laying out a soccer field for the young of the parish… The tasks of which Jesus speaks call for the ability to show compassion; our hearts are to be “moved” and fully engaged in carrying them out.

We are to rejoice with couples who marry; we are to laugh with the children brought to the baptismal font; we are to accompany young fiancés and families; we are to suffer with those who receive the anointing of the sick in their hospital beds; we are to mourn with those burying a loved one…

All these emotions can exhaust the heart of a pastor. For us priests, what happens in the lives of our people is not like a news bulletin: we know our people, we sense what is going on in their hearts.

Our own heart, sharing in their suffering, feels “com-passion”, is exhausted, broken into a thousand pieces, moved and even “consumed” by the people. Take this, eat this… These are the words the priest of Jesus whispers repeatedly while caring for his faithful people: Take this, eat this; take this, drink this…

In this way our priestly life is given over in service, in closeness to the People of God… and this always leaves us weary. I wish to share with you some forms of weariness on which I have meditated.

There is what we can call “the weariness of people, the weariness of the crowd”. For the Lord, and for us, this can be exhausting – so the Gospel tells us – yet it is a good weariness, a fruitful and joyful exhaustion.

The people who followed Jesus, the families which brought their children to him to be blessed, those who had been cured, those who came with their friends, the young people who were so excited about the Master… they did not even leave him time to eat. But the Lord never tired of being with people.

On the contrary, he seemed renewed by their presence (cf Evangelii Gaudium, 11). This weariness in the midst of activity is a grace on which all priests can draw (cf ibid, 279). And how beautiful it is! People love their priests, they want and need their shepherds! The faithful never leave us without something to do, unless we hide in our offices or go out in our cars wearing sunglasses.

There is a good and healthy tiredness. It is the exhaustion of the priest who wears the smell of the sheep… but also smiles the smile of a father rejoicing in his children or grandchildren.

It has nothing to do with those who wear expensive cologne and who look at others from afar and from above (cf. ibid., 97). We are the friends of the Bridegroom: this is our joy.

If Jesus is shepherding the flock in our midst, we cannot be shepherds who are glum, plaintive or, even worse, bored. The smell of the sheep and the smile of a father…. Weary, yes, but with the joy of those who hear the Lord saying: “Come, O blessed of my Father” (Mt 25:34).

There is also the kind of weariness which we can call “the weariness of enemies”.

The Devil and his minions never sleep and, since their ears cannot bear to hear the word of God, they work tirelessly to silence that word and to distort it.

Confronting them is more wearying. It involves not only doing good, with all the exertion this entails, but also defending the flock and oneself from evil (cf Evangelii Gaudium, 83).

The evil one is far more astute than we are, and he is able to demolish in a moment what it took us years of patience to build up.

Here we need to implore the grace to learn how to “offset”: to thwart evil without pulling up the good wheat, or presuming to protect like supermen what the Lord alone can protect.

All this helps us not to let our guard down before the depths of iniquity, before the mockery of the wicked. In these situations of weariness, the Lord says to us: “Have courage! I have overcome the world!” (Jn 16:33).


Pope Francis celebrates Chrism Mass Photo by Giampiero Sposito, Reuters ,04/02/2015 9:31 PM ---Pope Francis blows into blessed oil as he leads the Chrism Mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. The Chrism Mass is done for the diocese of Rome, of which the Pope is the concurrent bishop, to signify unity of the priests with the diocese.

And finally – lest you be wearied by this homily itself! – there is also “weariness of ourselves” (cf Evangelii Gaudium, 277).

This may be the most dangerous weariness of all. That is because the other two kinds come from being exposed, from going out of ourselves to anoint and to do battle (for our job is to care for others). ut this third kind of weariness is more “self-referential”: it is dissatisfaction with oneself, but not the dissatisfaction of someone who directly confronts himself and serenely acknowledges his sinfulness and his need for God’s mercy; such people ask for help and then move forward.

Here we are speaking of a weariness associated with “wanting yet not wanting”, having given up everything but continuing to yearn for the fleshpots of Egypt, toying with the illusion of being something different.

I like to call this kind of weariness “flirting with spiritual worldliness”.

When we are alone, we realise how many areas of our life are steeped in this worldliness, so much so that we may feel that it can never be completely washed away. This can be a dangerous kind of weariness.

The Book of Revelation shows us the reason for this weariness: “You have borne up for my sake and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first” (Rev 2:3-4). Only love gives true rest. What is not loved becomes tiresome, and in time, brings about a harmful weariness.

The most profound and mysterious image of how the Lord deals with our pastoral tiredness is that, “having loved his own, he loved them to the end” (Jn 13:1): the scene of his washing the feet of his disciples. I like to think of this as the cleansing of discipleship.

The Lord purifies the path of discipleship itself. He “gets involved” with us (Evangelii Gaudium, 24), becomes personally responsible for removing every stain, all that grimy, worldly smog which clings to us from the journey we make in his name.

From our feet, we can tell how the rest of our body is doing. The way we follow the Lord reveals how our heart is faring.

The wounds on our feet, our sprains and our weariness, are signs of how we have followed him, of the paths we have taken in seeking the lost sheep and in leading the flock to green pastures and still waters (cf ibid, 270).

The Lord washes us and cleanses us of all the dirt our feet have accumulated in following him.

This is something holy. Do not let your feet remain dirty. Like battle wounds, the Lord kisses them and washes away the grime of our labours.

Our discipleship itself is cleansed by Jesus, so that we can rightly feel “joyful”, “fulfilled”, “free of fear and guilt”, and impelled to go out “even to the ends of the earth, to every periphery”. In this way we can bring the good news to the most abandoned, knowing that “he is with us always, even to the end of the world”.

Let us learn how to be weary, but weary in the best of ways!


GMA NEWS TV

Pinoy Catholics observe Visita Iglesia Uploaded on 7:43AM

Catholic devotees pray at the Sta. Cruz Church during the Visita Iglesia on Holy Thursday, April 2, 2015. The Visita Iglesia is a Lenten tradition calling for the faithful to pray at seven churches. Danny Pata

MANILA BULLETIN

Holy Eucharist not a church invention by Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD April 2, 2015

Maundy Thursday

An elderly lady, accompanied by a young doctor, was being wheeled into a room in preparation for her surgery. Visibly nervous, she blurted out, “Doctor, please be gentle with me. This is my first time to be operated on.”

The youthful surgeon glanced at her and said, “Don’t worry, madam. This is also my first time to do an operation.”

When a doctor tells you not to worry – even though it’s his first time to do an operation–and you believe, that’s making a leap of faith.

In the Last Supper after he prayed over and blessed the bread and wine, Jesus told his apostles to believe that the bread and wine were turned into his Body and Blood even though they did not understand how they became life-giving food and nourishing drink.

Jesus said further: “Do this in memory of me.” (Lk 22:19-20; 1 Cor 11:25).

REAL PRESENCE

That’s what the Lord commanded and that’s why Holy Thursday is called Maundy Thursday because it commemorates the “commands” (mandata in Latin) which Jesus gave us.

Thus, the Holy Eucharist was instituted by Jesus himself before he died. The Mass is, therefore, not an invention of the Church nor an idea of the popes.

But Christ wanted to remain present, too, to be with us physically–not just to be remembered. This brings us to the specifically Catholic teaching called the “Real Presence” of Christ when, in the Last Supper, he said “This is my Body. This is my Blood.”

WASHING OF THE FEET

The other command of Jesus is expressed by his dramatic and moving example of washing the feet of his disciples. “But if I washed your feet – I who am Teacher and Lord – then you must wash each other’s feet.”

Christ’s dramatic act illustrates humble service which should be exemplified by all, but especially those who are vested with authority like government officials, heads of firms and organizations, parents, bishops and priests.

EFFECT OF THE EUCHARIST

How is it that some people receive the Body and Blood of Christ regularly and nothing happens? Why is there no apparent progress in their conduct and spiritual lives?

It must be remembered that the effect of the Eucharist does not work automatically. We are people, not robots. God respects our free will, albeit distorted and contrary to the Divine Will at times.

This explains why, despite Christ’s redemption, there are unscrupulous people: killers and terrorists, drug pushers, purveyors of pornography and hardened criminals.

EUCHARISTIC FOOD AND STRENGTH

The “bread” our Lord is talking about is his Body and Blood offered in the Holy Eucharist which nourishes and strengthens us in our journey through life.

A true story is told about an American lady named Brigitte Gerney. In 1985 while walking on a pedestrian lane in New York City, a construction crane fell down pinning her underneath. For six agonizing hours, paramedics frantically struggled to keep her alive until she could be removed from the heavy crane.

During the ordeal Brigitte was given blood transfusions, fluids and painkillers. But she asked for one specific thing and that was to receive Holy Communion. She was then taken to a hospital where doctors operated on her for another five hours and she eventually survived.

The crane accident was only one of the most recent of a series of mishaps Brigitte had experienced. Her son, who was barely two years old, drowned accidentally. Her husband died of cancer. Her father was killed in an automobile accident. Brigitte had an operation to remove a cancer and she had suffered multiple injuries in a cable car crash in Switzerland in 1982.

Was this woman born unlucky? Far from it. Because of her indomitable faith in the Eucharist, she survived all those ordeals.

Like Brigitte Gerney, we sometimes encounter accidents and illnesses, endure disappointments or suffer tragedies. By ourselves, we could never survive. We need a higher power and spiritual energy. That energy comes from the Body and Blood of Christ.

GUARANTEE OF ETERNAL LIFE

Finally, the reception of Christ’s Body and Blood in Holy Communion guarantees eternal life. Listen to Christ’s words: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has life eternal and I will raise him up on the last day” (Jn 6:53).

If Jesus’ flesh and blood guarantee eternal life after death, wouldn’t you do everything to seek it in order to achieve everlasting life?

Holy Thursday reminisces Jesus’ institution of the Holy Eucharist. Above all, it calls us to appreciate the value of the Holy Mass by faithfully, regularly attending it and receiving the Bread that guarantees eternal life.


GMA NEWS TV

Five things to do during a Holy Week ‘staycation’
By PAUL JOHN CAÑA April 2, 2015 1:49pm


Uploaded on 11:04AM Mar 31 Hooded penitents carry wooden crosses along McArthur Highway in Capas, Tarlac on Monday, March 30, as part of their 'panata' or pledge during the Holy Week. The annual ritual makes several stops in front of chapels where they offer prayers and ask for redemption from their sins. Ruston Banal Jr.

Not so long ago, Holy Week was a time of quietude and reflection. Everything was closed and nothing was on TV, except for religious programming and noontime show Lenten specials (and later on, those "Seventh Heaven" marathons).

People stayed home, marinated on the couch, and pretty much just twiddled their fingers and counted the hours until the world (and Jesus) came back to life.

That’s not the case anymore. These days, we’re spoiled for choice with entertainment-slash-time-killing options. Some malls and restaurants stay open (sacrilege!), there are countless retreats/recollections invitations, and, of course, for a lot of people, this is their only chance to escape the city and fly off to the beach or mountains. It’s the yearly sojourn that’s supposed to recharge the body and reinvigorate the spirit.

READ MORE...
There are those, however, who choose to chuck all that and stay at home in the city. Because when you’re stressed the whole year round negotiating the chaos that is Metro Manila traffic, having the city practically all to yourself sounds like the best idea for a Holy Week break.

Here are a few things you can do if you say no to that trip to Boracay or Sagada and take your chances staying home in the city during Holy Week:

1. Marinate on the couch and catch up on movies and TV shows

You can toss boredom out the window when there are a hundred cable channels running shows 24/7. If you don’t have cable, there’s always DVDs or downloads (legal and, well, the other kind). My personal suggestions: "House of Cards" (Kevin Spacey as a power-hungry congressman and the lovely Robin Wright as his suffering, supportive wife), "The Walking Dead" (there’s really no subsititute for zombies), and, if you haven’t already seen them, this year’s Oscar-nominated movies one after the other ("Whiplash" deserves multiple viewings).

Don’t forget to lay out the drinks and snacks. The only surfing you’ll do this year is on the couch (okay maybe on the internet, too).

2. Check into a hotel and gorge on food

If you’re a good Catholic, you’ve probably been taught to practice fasting and abstinence during Lent. However, if you’re neither good nor a Catholic, then by all means, no one’s stopping you from indulging your inner glutton. Lots of restaurants and hotels have their Holy Week Specials (meaning meatless fare, how sad), but if you’re going to be bad, you might as well go all out.

Marriott Hotel Manila (998-9999), for instance, has a poolside Family Barbecue deal that also doubles as a summer party for all its guests who are checked-in. Four people pay just P2,100 and enjoy unlimited pork BBQ, chicken inasal, pansit canton, and mahi-mahi (with rice and a selection of sauces, of course). The offer is good from April 2 to 4, between 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

3. Relive Christ’s agony, then watch a concert

For a few years now, Bonifacio Global City in cooperation with Christian community Church Simplified has been hosting Walkway, an interactive Stations Of The Cross along Bonifacio High Street. It’s a creative way to reintroduce Christ’s passion, death and resurrection to a whole generation of people fast losing interest in matters of religion and faith.

Organizers have added a musical element to the event the last couple of years. Alternative rock band Mutemath and electronica act Kye Kye, will play for fans on March 31 and April 5, respectively, this year. Shows start at 7 p.m. While admission is free, tickets will be handed out. Visit the Church Simplified Facebook page for more details.

4. Visita Iglesia. Yeah.

You’ve put it off long enough. You may have even done it once, years ago, back when your lola or your aunt made you go with them. But this year, why not finally see what the fuss is about?

Visita Iglesia is an old Roman Catholic tradition of visiting churches during Holy Week.

The idea is to pray before the Blessed Sacrament and/or the Stations Of The Cross, but, let’s be honest, it’s also an opportunity to do some sightseeing in our very own city. Live in a place long enough and you never really get to appreciate the beauty and history that’s all around you.

I mean, when was the last time you marveled at the beauty of the Manila Cathedral or inspected the fascinating details of San Agustin, San Sebastian or Malate Church? But if you’re too lazy to get off your butt, there’s always...

5. Take a drive around the city

If you brave the hell that is Manila traffic daily, EDSA during Holy Week is paradise. Get behind the wheel with your best mates, and imagine what the city would be like if there was a zombie apocalypse, or if the traffic system was better managed.

Drive down the ghost town that is Ayala Avenue and the usually busy neighborhoods of Makati City’s financial district, check out what Binondo and Divisoria look like minus all of the crowds, and cruise down Roxas Boulevard and wait for the glorious sunset before finding a place that’s open to grab some dinner (there’ll be a non-believer out there somewhere).

A traffic jam-less Metro Manila is probably the closest you’ll get to spiritual enlightenment this Holy Week. — BM, GMA News


GMA NEWS TV

Devotees visit life-size Station of the Cross images in Albay April 1, 2015 7:19pm


9th Station: Way of the Cross at Kawa-Kawa Hill (Ligao City) Philippines / Bicol / Bonga / Ligao City

Devotees have started flocking to a mountain in Legazpi City in Albay to visit life-size images depicting the Stations of the Cross.

The images are at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in Barangay Buragwis, GMA Bicol reported on Wednesday.

Many consider the 106-step path up the mountain as a form of penance.

The area's caretaker said the number of visitors is expected to peak on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

Some devotees, however, decided to visit early. "Maganda po tapos mapresko po rito," said visitor Maricel Basco.

Caretaker Mary Grace Silvestre said visitors had been going to the area since 1995.

"Inaayos po namin dito. Nililinisan po namin yung mga gamit na gagamitin ng mga taong bibisita rito," she said. — Joel Locsin/BM, GMA News


GMA NEWS TV

Fair weather across PHL on Maundy Thursday but gale warnings up in eastern Luzon April 2, 2015 5:36am


Chedeng satellite image as of April 1 (11 p.m.) Chedeng satellite image as of April 1 (11 p.m.). Typhoon Chedeng is over 1,000 kilometers east of the Philippines in this satellite image PAGASA posted on its official Facebook page late evening of April 1 (PHL time). PAGASA No more than isolated rain showers and thunderstorms are expected across the country on Thursday, although state weather agency PAGASA raised gale warnings over the eastern seaboard of Southern Luzon due to Typhoon Chedeng (Maysak).

PAGASA's 5 a.m. bulletin said the whole archipelago will experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms.

Also, PAGASA said moderate to strong winds from the north-northeast will prevail over the eastern section of Southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

The coastal waters along these areas will be moderate to rough, it added.

Elsewhere, winds will be light to moderate coming from the northeast to east with slight to moderate seas.

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PAGASA also issued a gale warning covering the eastern seaboard of Southern Luzon due to strong- to gale-force winds associated with Chedeng, which entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility shortly before midnight Wednesday.

Covered by the gale warning are Camarines provinces, Catanduanes, and eastern coasts of Albay, Sorsogon and Quezon including Polilio.

Sea conditions in these areas will be rough to very rough, with waves going up as high as 4.5 meters.

Fishing boats and other small seacraft were advised not to venture to sea and larger sea vessels were warned against big waves.

JTWC downgrades Chedeng

As of 4 a.m. Thursday, Chedeng was estimated at 980 km east of Borongan, Eastern Samar with maximum sustained winds of 180 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 215 kph. It is forecast to move west-northwest at 19 kph.

The US' Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) had earlier classified Maysak/Chedeng as a super typhoon, but as of 5 a.m. Philippine Time downgraded the disturbance into a stil-powerful Category 4 typhoon.

Chedeng is expected to weaken even further as it approaches the Philippines, but will nevertheless bring heavy rain to the country. - Joel Locsin/TJD, GMA News


INQUIRER

Tourists start leaving Aurora ahead of ‘Chedeng’ Tonette Orejas @inquirerdotnet Inquirer Central Luzon 5:34 PM | Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – A number of local and foreign tourists started leaving the Aurora capital of Baler on Thursday after cutting short their stay and canceling reservations in hotels and transient homes although the local government has not ordered any evacuation amid preparations for the landfall of Typhoon “Chedeng,” officials said.

Baler Mayor Nelianto Bihasa and engineer Elson Egargue, executive director of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, confirmed the withdrawal of tourists, citing reports from the provincial tourism office.

They were still verifying exactly how many tourists remained in Baler, which is popular for its beaches and surfing spots, or in seven other towns of Aurora.

“But based on what we see, we have many tourists this time around. We were expecting around 10,000 for the Holy Week break,” Bihasa told the INQUIRER in a telephone interview on Thursday afternoon.

Tourists have been informed of the incoming typhoon, which was announced through a mobile sound system in the town, he said.

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Egargue said the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) advised that “Chedeng” would make landfall in Aurora on Saturday night or early Sunday morning. He said it was sunny in the province as of 4 p.m. Thursday. The province’s coastline faces the Pacific Ocean.

The provincial government has prepositioned 1,000 relief packs and medicines. Residents have been warned not to sail out to sea for fishing or recreation, he said.

The provincial government also has a standing memorandum of agreement with suppliers and the National Food Authority to provide rice and other food items in the northern towns of Dinalungan, Casiguran and Dilasag in case disaster strikes there.

Josefina Timoteo, Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council chair in Central Luzon, said all its local counterparts have conducted pre-disaster risk assessment.

Florida Dijan, regional director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, said Aurora and Nueva Ecija have been classified as “Charlie” or “Red” because these are in the direct path of the typhoon; Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales are classified as “Bravo” or “Orange” because these are near the vicinity of the direct path of the typhoon path; while Bataan is classified as “Alpha,” which is farthest from the typhoon track.

Dijan said areas under “Charlie” are expected to experience storm surge, heavy damage to agriculture, destruction of houses, moderate to heavy disruption of electrical power and communication services and dangerous travel by land, sea and air.

Geologist Noel Lacadin of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in the region issued a landslide and flood advisory.

Critical landslide areas include Arayat and Magalang in Pampanga; Subic, Castillejos, San Marcelino and Olongapo City in Zambales; Carranglan, Bongabon, Laur, Gabaldon and San Jose City in Nueva Ecija; and Dingalan, Maria Aurora, San Luis and Casiguran in Aurora.

The Philippine Information Agency said the Department of Social Welfare and Development has activated its quick response teams in the region’s seven provinces. The agency has readied food and non-food packs (blankets and cooking utensils) for Aurora (1,500 packs), for Bataan and Zambales (1,680 packs) and for Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Tarlac (10,933 packs).

Chief Insp. Chery Lou Donato, public information officer of the Central Luzon police, said police directors in seven provinces and 14 cities in the region have coordinated with the local DRRMCs while ensuring the peaceful observance of Lent. AC


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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