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Hajj News Articles

2,600 Filipinos to Perform Hajj

By Rexcel Sorza, IOL Correspondent

ILOILO CITY, Philippines, January 3 ( – A total of 2,600 Filipinos have registered with the Office of Muslim Affairs to perform hajj this year.

Among those leaving for Saudi Arabia is Abdul Ismael, 65, who has just retired as a government employee.

“I have looked forward to this pilgrimage. I set aside the amount from my retirement pay and paid the registration fee,” he told

The spiritual journey is costing Ismael 1,900 US dollars, a little less than the 20,000 dollars retirement package he was paid by the government.

“Just like all Muslims, it is my wish to be able to perform this pilgrimage. That is why I stuck it out with the government despite the low pay because I know that when I retire I would be able to have enough money to go on this pilgrimage.”

The Office of Muslim Affairs last week told IOL correspondent that the majority of would-be pilgrims are over 50.

Some of them are wealthy but the majority belongs to the average income group of Filipinos like government employees and businessmen.

Others have children who are earning well and are the ones footing the pilgrimage bill.

Despite the economic crisis gripping this largely Christian nation, the number of pilgrims this year has increased by 15 percent or so, according to the Office of Muslims Affairs.

The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, and thus an essential part of Muslims’ faith and practice under the condition of physical and financial ability.

It consists of several ceremonies, meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.

Scheduled FlightsPhilippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Bahnarim Guinomla said last week that a total of eight flights of Saudi Arabian Airlines will ferry the Filipinos intending to make the spiritual journey to the holy sites.

He recalled that the first group of Filipino pilgrims left the country en route to Saudi Arabia on December 22.

The diplomat said that based on information from the Office on Muslim Affairs (OMA) all the flights except one will be landing at the Madinah International Airport.

The last flight, Saudi Arabian Airlines flight No. SV 865, which will depart Manila on January 13, will land at the King Abdulaziz International Airport at Jeddah.

“Landing the intending pilgrims in the Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz Airport in Madinah will be convenient for them as it will save them the land travel from either Jeddah or Mecca for the visit to the Prophet’s mosque,” Guinomla said.

Saudi Arabia has chosen the Philippines as a pilot country for its drive for a safe, acceptable, and comfortable pilgrimage through its Hajj Awareness Program (HAP).