Subic Freeport braces for tourists influx for Holy Week

Devotees await for their turn as Fr. Jose Manuel Montes make rounds during the Blessing of the Palms.

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.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Rolen C. Paulino (3rd from left) leads the ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally open the Weekend Eco Market at the San Roque chapel grounds. With him is OIC-Provincial Director of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Zambales Enrique Tacbad (left), SBMA Tourism manager Jem Camba (2nd from left), and Fr. Jose Manuel Montes (right).

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.

A visiting couple studies a food item being sold at a stall in the Weekend Eco Market. The Weekend Eco Market is open on all weekends until the end of May to revive tourism and economy in the freeport.

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.

SBMA Chairman Rolen C. Paulino (center) leads the ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally open the 2022 Subic Bay Banchetto and trade fair at the Mini Golf Course grounds. Taking part in the ceremony is OIC-Provincial Director of DTI-Zambales Enrique Tacbad (L-R), SBFCC director Danny Piano, Roland Gomez of San Miguel Foods, and SBFCC president Benjamin Antonio III.

“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.

Youngsters await their orders at a food stall at the Banchetto.

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.

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