SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is opening more areas of destinations for more guests to visit, in anticipation of high influx of tourists and devotees coming here this Holy Week.
SBMA Chairman and Administrator Rolen C. Paulino said the Freeport has lined up weeklong activities, in observance of the Holy Week in the “new normal.”
“SBMA is again open. I really wanted people to come here in Subic during the Holy Week. But with what I see, it is more than I expected,” Paulino said during the opening of the Weekend Eco-Market over the weekend.
Paulino’s appointment as SBMA Chairman and Administrator coincided with the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), downgrading Region 3 to Alert Level 1. He also vowed to make Subic Bay Freeport one of the most visited places in the country.
Over the weekend, the Chairman spearheaded the opening of the Subic Bay Weekend Eco-Market, an outdoor flea market located near the San Roque Chapel where some 30 micro, small and medium enterprise businesses from Central Luzon sell fresh and processed fruits, vegetables, meats, handicrafts and more.
Open from 8 AM to 3 PM, the Subic Bay Weekend Eco-Market, in partnership with the Department of Tourism (DoT) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), aims to help revive tourism and economy in the area, and will run all weekends until end of May.
Moreover, the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce (SBFCC) also opened 2022 Subic Bay Banchetto and trade fair for the span of the Holy Week period, and provide a venue to unwind after the working class went back to work on a 100 percent complement.
“Since Region 3 was placed under Alert Level 1, we all have been working hard. And the Banchetto was organized in time for the Holy Week to give ourselves a much-deserved break,” said Benjamin Antonio III, SBFCC president and Subicwater chief executive officer and general manager.
He said that the Banchetto is also in partnership with the DoT and DTI aiming to revive tourism and economy as micro, small and medium enterprise businesses joined the trade fair.
The Banchetto will run daily from 4 PM to 1 AM, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday only.
Meanwhile, for devotees of the religious activities, San Roque Chapel started the Holy Week with the Blessing of Palm, locally known as palaspas, the re-enactment of the entry of Jesus to Jerusalem, and the Station of the Cross.
Last Holy Monday (April 11) until Holy Wednesday (April 13), there was a “Pabasa sa Freeport,” the chanting of the life, passion and death of Jesus, from 8 AM onwards. A Holy Mass followed at 5 PM, and a religious procession at 6 PM.
On Maundy Thursday (April 14), there will be Holy Mass and Washing of the Feet (5 PM), to be followed by a Holy Mass at 6 PM. The Visita Iglesia will start from 7 PM until 12 MN.
On Good Friday (April 15), there will be a private Station of the Cross (6 AM to 12 NN/SRC), Liturgy of the Word and Veneration of the Cross (3 PM/ SRC). The Grand Procession follows at 6 PM.
Easter Sunday (April 17) will be the much-awaited Salubong (4 AM), the pre-dawn meeting of the images of the Risen Christ and the grieving Mother Mary. Procession starts in front of Dispensary Building and the other is at Spanish Gate. Holy Mass is at 5 AM. Easter Egg Hunting begins at 11 AM at the San Roque Chapel.
The visitors can also take the opportunity to join the grand procession on Good Friday.
Chairman Paulino said that because of its security and cleanliness, the Freeport is a favorite vacation rendezvous with the family to remember the sufferings of Jesus, the meaning of His death, and His resurrection.
“As we would have wanted to have Alert Level 0, and come up with a better normal in the Freeport, we still enjoin everyone to follow minimal health protocols. Wear your face masks and sanitize your hands with alcohol whenever possible. Let us all stay safe,” Paulino said.