efe-epaManila

The streets of Las Pinas City were Sunday a sea of green as hundreds of people carried palm fronds to celebrate Palm Sunday, the start of the Catholic Holy Week.

Some 200 people joined the procession along a road in Las Pinas - in the southern end of Manila - and carried green palm fronds, an epa journalist reports.

Catholic ministers and some altar boys were among the moving crowds and Italian Catholic priest Romulo Bertoni led the procession.

At one point the devotees stopped to receive a blessing from Bertoni, and the crowds then proceeded to a local church to attend a Mass of some 500 people.

"I'm amazed at the warm belief of Filipino Catholics and it shows in how they celebrate Holy Week," Bertoni told epa.

Similar processions were held nationwide in the Philippines Sunday and in larger cities Catholic churches held several Mass services throughout the day.

Many Filipinos from Sunday began travelling to see their families in their home provinces as Easter Week begins, with the upcoming four-day weekend culminating in Easter Sunday on Apr. 1.

In a statement to the media, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Sunday said security and safety measures have been stepped up in anticipation of large numbers of people traveling through the country, the Philippine News Agency reported.

The majority of the Philippines' population of 100 million people are Catholic, making it and East Timor the only Christian-majority countries in Asia.