The internet and social media are changing the way today’s seniors commemorate the Lenten season. While some go online to document their Holy Week activities, others go offline as a form of fasting.
In keeping with tradition, Buena Umali and other seniors of Magdalena, Laguna, hold a pabasa, or the continuous chanting of the Passion of Christ, every year on the Friday before Palm Sunday. They also go on a Visita Iglesia, or visits to different churches where they pray the Stations of the Cross.
Having recently completed training on the use of smartphones and mobile data, Umali and her group now also share their activities via Facebook and Messenger. For instance, they have uploaded on Facebook a video of their Visita Iglesia in Antipolo and Taytay in Rizal.
“I’m glad that I now know how to use social media, I am able to share all of this with my friends and family, using my smartphone,” Umali says.
Also through Facebook, Lita Rubina is able to see how other communities commemorate Holy Week. She says it shows how strong Filipinos’ faith is and this serves to encourage participation in the Lenten rituals.
“Commemorating Holy Week means remembering how Christ suffered and died for our sins,” she says. “Facebook is just another medium to show our devotion.”
The two women are graduates of the Smart Millenniors program, initiated by PLDT’s wireless subsidiary to teach senior citizens about technology, with the help of youth volunteers.
Fellow-graduate Amparo Catina of Marikina City sees it differently. As Holy Week is a period of reflection, a meaningful way to commemorate it is by taking time off social media.
Just like fasting and abstinence, she says, we can take a break from our usual activities like shopping and social media. It’s a sacrifice we can offer for the intention of the sick, needy, abandoned and elderly, she adds.
“Seniors have so much to share,” says Ramon Isberto, PLDT-Smart Public Affairs head, “and by empowering them with the skills they need to participate in social media, we are making sure that their voices are heard and that they are not left behind.”
Since its launch in 2017, the Smart Millenniors program has conducted sessions around Metro Manila, Laguna, Cebu, and Cagayan de Oro. It was recently awarded a Silver Anvil at the 54th Anvil Awards.