Holy Week walk to Antipolo expects 6M devotees

At a glance

  • The absence of the penitential walk for three years will gather the biggest Alay Lakad since 2015, the police said.

  • The devotees come from many points of National Capital Region and nearby provinces, walking for six to 10 hours to reach the Antipolo Cathedral by early morning of Good Friday.

  • The ritual is done for various reasons: as a Lenten sacrifice, for a prayer request, to ask for forgiveness, to commemorate Christ’s walk carrying the cross, or to thank God for a granted prayer.

  • The church visit will be more special this year as the Antipolo Cathedral has been officially elevated by the Vatican as an international shrine, the first in the country and the third in Asia.

Three years after the pandemic was declared, the penitential walk tradition, or Alay Lakad to Antipolo Cathedral will be held again on Maundy Thursday, April 6, this time with some six million devotees expected to join the decades-old Holy Week ritual.

The Antipolo Public Information Office confirmed in a phone call with Manila Bulletin that this year’s Alay Lakad will officially take place. It added that rescue personnel will be deployed throughout strategic points along the route. According to the Rizal Provincial Police Office, this will be the “biggest Alay Lakad since 2015.”

Catholic devotees participating in the 'Alay Lakad.' (Jansen Romero/MB file photo)

Every year before 2020, devotees from many points of the National Capital Region and various provinces joined the Penitential Walk tradition which took from six to 10 hours depending on where a pilgrim started the walk to Antipolo, also known as the country’s pilgrimage capital.

According to Fr. Reynante Tolentino, shrine rector of the International Shrine of the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, also known as the Antipolo Cathedral, Alay Lakad is a yearly Holy Week tradition that starts in the afternoon of Maundy Thursday after the Last Supper mass. Devotees time their walk to reach the church on the early morning of Good Friday.

Alay Lakad began in the 1940s and has been a yearly tradition, according to the Office of the City Tourism of Antipolo. But the event stopped in 2020 when the pandemic hit. It slowly returned in 2022 when some devotees walked despite advisories that it had been canceled.


This year, the pilgrimage celebration will be special because the Antipolo Cathedral was officially elevated by the Vatican as an international shrine last March 25. It is the country’s first international shrine, the third in Asia, and the 11th in the world, according to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

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Devotees at the Antipolo Cathedral. (Nel B. Andrade/MB file photo)

The Antipolo Cathedral, located at the center of the city, is a popular pilgrimage site and tourist attraction that has a rich history dating back to the Spanish occupation.


Pilgrims join the traditional walk for many reasons. Some join to commemorate Christ’s walk as he carried His cross to Golgotha, while some walk to ask forgiveness. Others join as part of their Visita Iglesia rites to visit the 14 stations of the cross found at the premises of the Cathedral.

One of the devotees, Eliseo Palo from Cavite, said he first joined the walk in 2014 when he was 33 years old “Out of curiosity and aya ng mga kaibigan ko (Out of curiosity and because of the invitation of my friends).”

Eliseo noted in an interview with Manila Bulletin that his legs went into “culture shock” that he couldn’t stand up because of the pain. But he said that it was all worth it as he felt “blessed” that he completed the walk and the 14 stations of the cross. From then on, he joined his friends, only taking a break in 2017. Now at 42, he plans to join the walk again with his friends.

“Yung pagod sa paglalakad mawawala din yun, pero yung feeling na blessed ka after mo magawa, yun ang worth it (The tiredness and pain from walking will eventually go away, but the feeling of being blessed after doing it is all worth it).” he added.


Some devotees walk barefoot all the way to Antipolo as they believe that they would somehow be able to relate to Christ’s sacrifice and perform their “panata” or Lenten vows.

“Personal nilang panalangin at sakripisyo para magpasalamat at magdasal sa Diyos sa tulong ng Mahal na Birhen (Devotees do it as a personal prayer and form of sacrifice to thank and pray to God with the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary),” Fr. Tolentino said.

Catholic devotees participating in the 'Alay Lakad.' (Jansen Romero/MB file photo)

“Expression din yan ng pananampalataya sa Panginoon Hesus at devotion sa Mahal na Birhen ng mga karaniwang tao at katoliko (It is also an expression of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary by common people and Catholics),” he added.

Others walk from the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila all the way to the Antipolo Cathedral, some 24 kilometers away.

This is also the same route that devotees take on the evening before the first of May to mark the pilgrimage season, which according to the Antipolo Cathedral website, began in the late 1600s upon the arrival of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s wooden image from Acapulco, Mexico. (Pancho Parian)