In my younger days when we spend our Holy Week holidays in my father's hometown of Cabatuan, Iloilo, Maundy Thursdays and Good Fridays were busy days. The Mass commemorating the 'washing of the feet' was Thursday afternoon and usually extended into the evening. I think those were the longest Masses I've participated in and were generally longer than Christmas or Easter Masses that I have also experienced in Cabatuan. The part of the washing of the feet was usually held with much fanfare especially during times when there were alumni homecomings for the town's National Comprehensive High School and when there were elections in May. There was a time when the apostles included the mayor, vice mayor and councilors of the town and the parish priest seemed so deliberate in emphasizing his moral high ground in his homily and the ceremonial washing of the feet. There was a Last Supper reenactment at the town plaza after the Mass.
Good Friday's were even busier with the Stations of the Cross in the morning that started from the town's centuries old church to their version of Mount Calvary, which is a hill located in one of the barrios not too far from the town proper. The climb up used to be a treacherous one as the steps were narrow and were carved out of the hillside. Later, when I was already in university, the steps were already improved and made of concrete. They were also wider, allowing two-way traffic without having to stop and give way to others. The Stations of the Cross started before 6 AM and usually ended before 8AM for those who followed the main entourage of the priest and participated in the prayers. The rest of the people who joined in don't really seem to be in it except for the 'barkadahan' (fellowship) part, which was all about the merriment aspect of the event rather than the spiritual part.
In the afternoon, people gathered in the town plaza to await, join or watch the Good Friday procession that also started from the church and went around the town passing through the major streets of the bayan. I remember that there used to be less than a dozen carrozas with their santos (religious images depicting scenes from the Passion of Christ) when I was a boy until the time when I was a teenager in high school. Later, there seemed to be more than 20 carrozas that comprised the very long procession. It seemed to me that the organizers of the procession, which included church officials, allowed the additional carrozas and santos from the 'emergent' families of the town who suddenly had the wealth to purchase their own santos and build their carrozas. Having your santo and carroza was a status symbol in old towns like my father's. The old and prominent families of the town owned the old santos but the younger, newer money (mainly from OFW families and those who have established themselves in the US and Europe) were accommodated for one reason or another.
I used to go with my aunts, cousins and friends on these Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Tatay used to take advantage of our vacations to reconnect with our relatives and friends including his high school buddies. The last time I was there, I went with my aunt and cousins but my childhood friends were no longer there. Most if not all have moved our to reside elsewhere particularly as many had to find work in other places. Truly times have changed over the years and Tatay's hometown has also evolved along with its people. I just hope that the town does not lose its charm and that when I do visit I could still reminisce happy days whenever I go around.