The free-to-air Philippine TV guide for Holy Week 2016

Behold the wood of the wondrous cross, of which the Prince of Glory and of Mercy redeemed us, sinners.

Behold the wood of the wondrous Cross, of which the Prince of Glory and of Mercy redeemed us, sinners.

HOLY WEEK will come early this year but it will not be the earliest in the range in the Gregorian calendar. The earliest falls from March 15-21 (happened in 1818, to happen in 2285) and the latest falls from April 18-24 (happened in 1943, to happen in 2038). This year, the most sacred week for Filipino Christians will start on March 20 (Palm Sunday) until 26 (Black Saturday).

Timow’s Turf comes back temporarily from educating the electorate in order to look out on the guide to Holy Week on free-to-air Philippine television. This scope will last until Easter Sunday, March 27.

Palm Sunday (Mar 20)

On channels that have televised Sunday Masses (ABS-CBN, PTV, TV5, CNN Philippines and IBC 13), you will hear two Gospel readings of St. Luke (Year C): the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem before the procession to the church (outside of the studio or the side, as the case may be) and the Lord’s Passion during the Mass.

The Catholic Church designated this year as the Year of Mercy. Expect during the Holy Week to focus more on the theme "Merciful Like the Father" on special programming.

The whole Catholic Church designated this year as the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. Expect during the Holy Week to focus more on the theme, “Merciful Like the Father,” on the special programming.

However, religious celebrations on this day will not stop there, as PTV 4 will continue the journey with the 20th Annual Mission Angels Family Recollection, live at the Meralco Theater. The theme of this program will certainly be related to our Universal Church’s designation of Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy and our Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) Year of the Eucharist and of the Family.

Pilipinas Debates 2016 will continue on its second leg on TV5 this Palm Sunday (March 20).

Pilipinas Debates 2016 will continue on its second leg on TV5 this Palm Sunday (March 20).

Afterwards, the #PiliPinasDebates2016 will continue on its second leg at the University of the Philippines-Cebu on TV5 at 5:00 p.m. but we may not know if there will be a simulcast or not on Aksyon TV 41, given the programming mix of the UHF channel. That being said, they will defer the doubleheaders of 2016 Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup elimination games until the following day (Holy Monday, March 21).

Holy Weekdays (Mar 21-23)

For mornings, it will be definitely be an ordinary day but come noon, comes a dilemma on the longest-running variety show: Eat Bulaga.

Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza gave Eat Bulaga a big boost from the humorous Kalyeserye segment but would they be together or be apart to apply a different act of drama this Holy Week?

Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza gave Eat Bulaga a big boost from the humorous Kalyeserye segment but would they be together or be apart to apply a different act of drama this Holy Week?

Eat Bulaga on GMA during Holy Week is indeed a time of reflection. Thus, they set aside the usual live and jovial environment for Lenten dramas but this year comes a catch.

The Kalyeserye segment, starring Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza (AlDub), is still a consistent setter on Twitter’s national trending list. With the tandem now nearly reaching its eighth month as of press time, the dilemma for TAPE, Inc. right now consists of two questions:

  1. Will they stay together or be separated, and
  2. Will they star on one weekday or 1 1/4 hours for three straight days?

Let’s wait and see.

Their rival, It’s Showtime, would emulate the aforementioned pattern sans the conundrum. Willie Revillame’s Wowowin will face the music for the first time in a few years on whether he will follow the previously mentioned formula or not.

As mentioned earlier on TV5, the deferred doubleheader basketball action resumes with NLEX Road Warriors vs. Alaska Aces in the afternoon & Tropang TNT vs. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in early primetime. However, there will be no elimination doubleheaders on the usual Holy Wednesday.

Meanwhile, PTV will get a special lineup in the afternoon from the Family Rosary Crusade after Oras ng Katotohanan.

In newscasts, it is unsurprising to watch the exodus of passengers in bus terminals and ports back to their provinces; special weather forecast for the Triduum will also be disclosed. This year, however, we will see it combined with the election campaign whereabouts for national positions.

The Paschal Triduum

Throughout these said days, the Big 3 will have their subdued programming and advertising. Moreover, no campaign ads will be aired over the small screens.

Generally, GMA would be triumphant over ABS-CBN on the ratings game as GMA delivers more drama with morals as ABS-CBN contains content that is more religious. Sister channels of these networks usually sign-off at this point or may provide special programming. Longer news advisories usually take place of flagship newscasts.

PTV normally signs off throughout such period for their annual maintenance but they may be aired on a shorter special schedule as public safety requires it, similar to what happened last year when Typhoon Chedeng was in the Philippine Area of Responsibility. Generally, no ticket sales and draws of Lotto will happen throughout the country from that day to Easter Sunday.

For IBC 13, this will be the last Holy Week under the control of the Government before full privatization. They will carry El Shaddai live Holy Week services in their home base in Amvel, Paranaque City and Fr. Archie Guiriba’s Shalom, assuming no weather disturbance will happen.

Just like last year, expect CNN Philippines not to carry local programming expect long hourly updates and some documentary marathon on Stories about the life of Christ, particularly the Crucifixion.

Non-Catholic UHF broadcasters are opted to sign on regularly or to sign off for maintenance. UNTV 37, despite being influenced by MCGI, signed off during the first two days of the Triduum as a sign of respect. NET 25 and INC-TV, on the other hand, decided to go on to their normal schedule and refer the three days as a “long weekend” due to their obvious religious slant.

Maundy Thursday (Mar 24)

In the morning, GMA 7 will bring the bankable Astig Authority block and kid-friendly films while ABS-CBN will air religious programming. Come in the afternoon, Kamuning will commence CBN Asia’s eighth annual Tanikala dramas, as Mother Ignacia will carry their traditionally televised liturgical proper from The Healing Eucharist: Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Afterwards, as most Catholic faithful flocked on to Visita Iglesia, the Big Three will tone down to their programming with films and drama anthology.

IBC 13 will cover the special Oras ng Katotohanan for two or three days, aside from foreign and other local religious programs.

Good Friday (Mar 25)

TV5 usually close down on that day but this year, they will defy the norm as the Big 3 will go on to their morning pattern from the previous day. At noon — the time purported that Jesus is hanging on the cross at Calvary in the darkness — the Seven Last Words (Siete Palabras) will be broadcast live on ABS-CBN and GMA under the auspices of the Society of the Divine Word and the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), respectively. TV5 will do the same but it is unknown whether it’ll be live or taped as IBC 13 is the network that the Seven Last Words is clearly pre-recorded; Make Mine Creative Productions will produced on the latter network for the 29th year. This annual religious program, containing the testimonies from laypeople and the reflection for each saying from the clergy, normally lasts 3 hours. This year, they will instill on the themes related to the Year of the Family, of the Eucharist and of Mercy.

Afterwards, on ABS-CBN, the traditional televised liturgy continues with the Adoration of the Cross service in mid-afternoon. The Passion of the Christ will be aired on TV5. At night, the Big Three will tone down as they did on the preceding night.

Black (Holy) Saturday (Mar 26)

TV5 will convert one day for a movie marathon as the Big Two, like the last two days, will continue do the last stretch on the special morning routine. During the final nightfall of the Holy Week, ABS-CBN will break in to TV Patrol after two days of no news delivery but GMA usually opted not to do so. After the final day of the Tanikala series, Channel 7 will carry the final salvo of Lenten drama from APT Entertainment, as ABS-CBN will wrap their traditional Triduum liturgy with the Paschal Vigil.

The APT Lenten drama this year is titled “Pagsubok,” starring Tom Rodriguez and Jennylyn Mercado. GMA’s last program for the broadcast day will be the traditionally, tape-delayed, Way of the Cross of Pope Francis.

Easter Sunday (Mar 27)

On this day, normal Sunday programming resumes with fitting jubilation. However, as some celebrity mainstays are on vacation mode, ABS-CBN’s ASAP and GMA’s Sunday PinaSaya would probably be taped instead of live broadcast but it may do so otherwise.

CNN Philippines will return to the normal state but will they carry the Easter Mass, if not for PTV 4, from the Vatican City (at 4:15 p.m., local time) with the Urbi et Orbi (6:00 p.m.) live — just like last Christmas — in order to get a head start from GMA’s traditional combination as the last program on the broadcast day? Let’s wait and see.

IBC 13 would resume to the normal dull programming but we may expect Music & the Spoken Word‘s Easter special from the Church of Jesus Christ and of the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) to air in the afternoon and/or early evening.

Have a blessed Holy Week, dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Stay safe!

Photo credits:

  • Stabat Mater:
  • Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy logo: Wikimedia Commons
  • PiliPinas Debates 2016 logo: Wikimedia Commons/COMELEC
  • AlDub: Philippine Daily Inquirer


  1. merong religious docu-film ang GMA this Maundy Thursday ng umaga, entitled Sa Mata ng Simbahan featuring the 405-year old heritage church of Parroquia de San Pedro Apostol in Vinzons, Camarines Norte, na nung 2012 after Christmas Day nasunog ang simbahan na sa lumang kumbento pinagmulan ang apoy at nung 2015, muling binuksan ang simbahang iyon at ksama sa mga Jubilee chuches ng Diocese of Daet

  2. Just in: ABS-CBN’s Holy Week schedule has already released. No TV Patrol on Black Saturday.

  3. The Easter Sunday 2016 episode of ASAP may be more likely a replay, given that the first Sundays of 2016 up to that point have fresh episodes.

    1. James “Mr. Sunday” Ty III said that they are taped in advance kasi vacation mode ang most of their mainstays. By April 3, balik live episodes sila.

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