No plans for Holy Week? 21 last-minute things to do

Rhea Claire Madarang, Bea Policarpio

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No plans for Holy Week? 21 last-minute things to do
According to your mood – spiritual, reflective, restless, drained or inspired – here are some things you can do for the rest of the holiday

MANILA, Philippines – Long vacations or time off from the daily grind may cause some hidden feelings to bubble up to the surface. 

Depending on how you’re feeling, and if you have nothing major planned for the next few days, check out our list of fun things you might want to do. Whether you’re feeling spiritual, reflective, restless, drained or inspired, there’s something for everyone. 

Feeling drained?

The last few weeks of school or work have really left you exhausted and in need of some well-deserved down time. Quiet down and spend Holy Week at home recovering your health for the busy weeks ahead.

1. Yoga at home. No gym necessary! Stay serene and in shape with basic yoga YouTube videos which allow you to try it out for free. (READ: No excuses! Great YouTube workouts to try at home)

2. Relax to soothing music. Chill out to artists like Jonsi and Enya, or Explosions in the Sky, Alexi Murdoch, or Efterklang (it all depends on what you’re feeling) to banish any traces of anxiety.

3. Have a hotel staycation. With many people going out of town, you might just find a nice hotel room in Manila where you can simply relax and while the time away. If you want to relax with a view, stay at a hotel fronting Manila Bay. Or, if you want to have some nearby cultural sights to check out, book with one of the hotels in Intramuros.

If you are staying in a condo or apartment complex with a pool, now is the time take your sweet time lounging by and swimming in the pool. Your neighbors might just be all out of town.

4. Veg out. Invite your friends over (or keep to yourself, whichever works. Make up your TV series or movie list that you want to revisit over a period of 24 hours. Ready, set, go – because sometimes, you just need to veg. (READ: 10 movies, TV shows for your weekend marathon)

Feeling restless?

Maybe the summer heat has been leaving you feeling like you’re stuck in a rut. You’re restless and you can’t bear the idea of being stuck at home for the upcoming Holy Week. Here are a few ideas to ease the nagging feeling of restlessness:

5. Go camping at unspoiled beaches near Manila. No need to worry about fully booked resorts when you plan your impromptu beach trip. To enjoy clear waters and white beaches in nearby provinces like Batangas, Quezon, and Zambales, all you need to do is bring a tent and food supplies. Some beaches also have caretakers or camping resorts which offer cooking services. Check out this list of beaches six hours or less away from Manila where you can just pitch a tent and enjoy.

PRISTINE COVE. Nagsasa Cove is in San Antonio, Zambales – just a few hours away from Manila. Photo by Ros Flores

There are also usually tent rentals on these beaches, but since it’s the Holy Week holidays, best to bring your own or borrow one to be sure. Or, you can also sleep out on the beach if you like, especially if it’s hot. If you are in a big group you can just bring or rent one tent to hold your belongings then sleep outside, but make safety your first priority, of course.

6. Cool off. An alternative to the beach would be to cool off and relax at the waterfalls. There are many beautiful and accessible waterfalls in nearby provinces like Laguna, Rizal and Bulacan, which do not require a long trek and are perfect for a day trip. All you need to do is walk between five to 20 minutes. (READ: Perfect for summer: 8 cool-weather PH destinations)

NOT TOO FAR AWAY. Taytay Falls in Laguna. Photo by Geejay Gelogo

7. Go for a climb. The landscapes of nearby provinces like Cavite, Batangas, and Laguna are also home to beautiful mountains. Climb one and you won’t regret it – the view from the top makes the trek worth it. Some mountains have scenic views on the trail, too, making the journey all the more enjoyable.

WORTH THE TREK. Climbing a mountain like Gulugod Baboy in Batangas promises breathtaking views from the top. Photo by Rhea Claire Madarang

For the newbie, climbing a mountain may be daunting, but there are mountains like Gulugod Baboy in Batangas perfect for beginners. The peak promises a breathtaking 360-degree view of mountains, islands, and sea. Gulugod Baboy is perfect for a day trip or overnight camping, especially if you want to catch the sunset.

Just make sure you wear non-slip footwear (ideally trekking shoes), and bring water and trail food. Gulugod Baboy, though, has stores on the trail selling ice water and snacks.


Feeling Inspired?

Too much energy? Need a new project? Check out our ideas to have fun at home without breaking the bank.

8. Plan your Easter lunch party. Celebrate the Easter season with a lovely lunch party complete with a home-cooked meal and DIY Easter eggs which you can show off on Instagram.

9. Photo wall. It’s as simple as decorating your walls with your favorite photos and cut-outs of things which inspire you. Surrounding yourself with good memories and creative images on a daily basis will help you better appreciate what you already have and help you become a more grateful person.

PHOTO WALL. Fill up your space with meaningful picture. Photo by Erica Pelaez

10. Make art. You don’t need to be a seasoned artist to create a masterpiece that will look good in your home. Channel your creative energy to paint what you’re feeling about the upcoming Easter season. If you have kids, get them excited over the prospect of finger painting.

JUST TRY. You don't have to be Picasso to start a new project. Photo by Bea Policarpio

11. Spice up your life—literally. Now you finally have time for those recipes you’ve always wanted to try out. Bonus if you get your family to help you cook some Lent-friendly meals with you.

TRY MAKING THIS. Roasted zucchini, baby carrots, squash quinoa pilaf with pistachios. Photo by Erica Sarmiento

(READ: In Photos: My 7 days of healthy breakfasts)

12. Simplify your life starting with your room. Clear your life of clutter and rediscover new spaces. You’ll feel a deep sense of accomplishment for reducing the amount of unnecessary mess in your life. Don’t forget to take before and after photos—you’ll feel even 10 times better.

Feeling spiritual?

You’d like to spend Holy Week observing religious traditions you grew up observing in the Philippines, including church services, Visita Iglesia (church visits), prayer, and quiet time. If this sounds like you:

13. Go to confession. Holy Week is the perfect time to make amends and start your spiritual journey anew. 

14. Visit some beautiful churches. Hunt around for some of the most beautiful churches Manila has to offer and make your traditional Visita Iglesia trip one to remember. Snap some beautiful photos of every church to document your journey. Light a candle for the ones you’re remembering at this time. (READ: 8 beautiful Metro Manila churches for Visita Iglesia)

IN THE URBAN JUNGLE. Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church, Guadalupe Viejo, Makati. Photo by Estan Cabigas (

15. Check out Walkway 2016 @ Bonifacio High Street. An Interactive Stations of the Cross by Church Simplified is set up at the heart of BGC all throughout Holy Week. This free exhibit allows you to follow Jesus’ footsteps to the Cross in a personal and creative way. The event runs from March 20-27. 

As part of Walkway, rock band Switchfoot is also playing at the High Street Amphitheater. See them perform your favorite anthems such as “Dare You To Move,” “Learning to Breathe,” and “Meant to Live” – live. The best part: it’s for free! If you want to see them up close near the stage though, you should get a VIP ticket just by accumulating purchase receipts. See the Walkway Facebook page for details.


16. Listen to a themed podcast. Take some inspiration via podcast from figures like Hillsong or Louie Giglio of Passion. Set the tone for your day by listening to their spiritual reflections on your way to your destinations.

17. Add some faith-inspired music to your playlist.  Fill up your iPod with some contemporary Christian music; you’ll be surprised with how modern the genre actually is. Check out Hillsong United’s new Easter single “Calvary,” or the acoustic version of their hit album, Zion. Songs from Jars of Clay, Bukas Palad, Gary V, are also great options; it’s all up to you. 

Feeling Reflective?

Holy Week, with its slow afternoons and solemn moments, opens up the opportunity for some introspective me-time. Re-evaluating your life from the inside out? Searching for new meaning in old spaces? This to-do list is for you.

18. Pick up new reads. Get lost in a new novel or catch up on your self-help leisure reading. Here are some meaningful titles you might want to check out this Holy Week. It doesn’t have to be focused on religion alone. Books by Mitch Albom, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyers, Ann Voskamp, Victoria Osteen are options. You might also want to pick up a biography of someone you admire – Steve Jobs, Julia Child, Roger Ebert, for example.

19. Visit a meditation garden. Hideaways like The Missionaries of Charity prayer garden in Tagaytay offer you the sanctuary you deeply crave.

(READ: Meditation made fast and simple)

20. Start a gratitude journal. Take a cue from Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts and start counting your blessings. Consider it a bonus if you’re able to turn the gratitude journal into a family project. Check out Ann’s website at

SAY IT. Don't keep feelings of gratitude inside. Make them real and write it down. Photo by Bea Policarpio

21. Write your life mission statement. It can be as simple as choosing your favorite inspirational quote, or making it as personal and detailed as you can—but the point is to write it down. Nothing says “new direction” like a new life mission statement. It could be a few words, or a long quote. It just needs to resonate with you and how you are feeling at this moment.

Bring the power of visualization to the next level and put together a DIY inspiration board. Take the opportunity to reflect on the direction of your life today and “create your future” by gathering positive images and your favorite quotes. Try out a paper-free version with popular sites like Pinterest or Polyvore.  –

Claire Madarang is a writer, traveler and seeker. Her wanderlust takes her on adventures like backpacking for 7 weeks straight. Follow her adventures, tips and epiphanies at her blog, Traveling Light.

Bea Policarpio is a Rappler intern. 

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Rhea Claire Madarang

Claire Madarang is a traveler, writer, biodiversity communications practitioner, and facilitator of nature play activities. Follow her adventures, travel tips, and reflections on her blog Traveling Light and on her Instagram