Catholics braved the threat of COVID-19 on Sunday, March 28, to have their palm fronds blessed even outside church buildings in Metro Manila a day before a lockdown in the capital region and surrounding provinces.
Wearing face masks and observing physical distancing to protect themselves from COVID-19, they waved their palm fronds as priests sprinkled holy water on them.
“I hope and pray this pandemic will end. I hope our (living) conditions will get better, especially since there are a growing number of people going hungry,” Stephane Silva said.
At the Saint Peter Parish in Quezon City, candles were attached to empty pews to represent parishioners taking part in Palm Sunday celebrations outside the church or online.
Religious gatherings will be banned from Holy Monday, March 29, until Easter Sunday, April 4, to comply with stricter quarantine restrictions the Philippine government reimposed in the capital and nearby provinces to slow the sharp rise in COVID-19 infections.
About 80% of people in the Philippines are Catholic.
The Philippines is battling a renewed surge in infections, including those of the new and more transmissible variants, prompting the government to tighten existing curbs in the capital and nearby provinces.
Coronavirus cases and deaths in the Philippines totaled 721,892 and 13,170, the second highest in Southeast Asia, with infections reported in the past nine days accounting for a tenth of the total. – with reports from Reuters/Rappler.com