I was a guest at Shop Talk on ANC this afternoon. The topic today was visita iglesia and Pia Hontiveros asked me to suggest some routes for Holy Thursday. Many people have been asking why seven churches. That custom of visiting seven churches on Holy Thursday is said to originate from the early Christian practice of visiting the seven great basilicas in Rome.
As I mentioned in the show a while ago, we should try to visit heritage churches so that we get a glimpse of Philippine culture while we pray. These centuries-old churches form an inherent part of our national identity, and we must thus endeavor to preserve them for future generations of Filipinos. If you remember, we came out with a petition to the CBCP to stop the further defacing of Philippine heritage churches late last year.
Anyway, I'm posting my suggestions here for day trips around and near Metro Manila. You can also check out my destination index if you have a particular province which you want to visit or if you want to read more details about the churches I mentioned below.
In the City of Manila, check out the Manila Cathedral, San Agustin, Binondo, Sta. Cruz, Quiapo, San Sebastian, Malate and Sta. Ana. You can go further by visiting San Pedro Makati, Guadalupe and Pasig. Check out this list of heritage churches in Metro Manila for the rest.
Pampanga is an emerging visita iglesia destination. Take the San Simon exit and backtrack to the Apalit Church which is the silver dome you see from the NLEX. Then cross over to the other side and drive to the town of San Luis. Then pass by the San Fernando Cathedral, the half-buried Bacolor Church, Betis Church and its ornate white and gold retablo and marvelous wall to ceiling murals, and Lubao which is Pampanga's oldest town church. If you have time, include Angeles City, Sta. Rita or Minalin.
In Bulacan, pass by Barasoain, the Malolos Cathedral, San Rafael and Angat (although there's an explosion of gold leaf inside and new ceiling murals which do not match the original simplicity of the church).
The Laguna de Bay Loop is a very popular route. Make sure you pass by the churches in Pila, Longos (Kalayaan), Paete, Pakil and Mabitac in Laguna; and Tanay, Baras, Morong and Antipolo in Rizal.
Then there's the Mount Banahaw Loop which brings you to the provinces of Laguna, Quezon and Batangas. You can start with San Pablo, followed by Nagcarlan and Majayjay in Laguna; then to Lucban, Tayabas and Sariaya in Quezon; and finally San Juan in Batangas.
In Batangas, also check out the Cathedral and Carmelite Convent in Lipa, San Jose Church, the Immaculate Conception Basilica in Batangas City, Taal Basilica and Caysasay Shrine in Taal, and Balayan Church. You can go further to Cavite and visit the churches in Maragondon, Silang, Naic, Tanza, Kawit and Gen. Trias.
To those who have been asking how many basilicas we have in the Philippines, the answer is twelve: Agoo, La Union; Piat, Cagayan; Malolos, Bulacan; Manila Cathedral, Quiapo, San Sebastian and Binondo in Manila; Batangas City and Taal in Batangas; Tayabas, Quezon; Penafranacia, Naga City; and Sto. Nino in Cebu. You can also visit churches in the list of national cultural treasures.
Anyway, I might be in Pampanga this Holy Week checking out the violent rituals, panatas, and other Holy Week traditions. To give you a glimpse of what to see, here's a video from the Center for Kapampangan Studies:
Visita iglesia to our heritage churches
Pisamban... the churches of Pampanga
Visita iglesia aroung Laguna de Bay
Metro Manila and its old churches
Visita iglesia Bohol
Holy Week practices in the Philippines
Lenten tour of magnificent 'retablos'
If you notice, most of our retablos are white with gold details. That's a very unique Filipino characteristic in our Spanish colonial church altars. The sad part is some priests feel they have Midas' Touch as the article puts it and paint the entire thing gold. It's horrible what they did to Argao in Cebu, Tanay, and Orion in Bataan! I hope priests put it in their heads that churches are Church property and not their own personal property. They are simply caretakers and not the owners who can do whatever they want with it.
Lenten rites in Cutud a man’s world
Angat Church heritage disaster on PDI front page
I was horrified when I saw the cover photo of the Philippine Daily Inquirer today (5 April 2007). What they did in the Angat Church was horrible! Those murals do not match the simplicity and historicity of the heritage church! Why do we have to copy murals in the Vatican? We have our own Philippine Baroque to be proud of. The sad part about publishing that heritage blunder on the front page is it will give the wrong impression to parish pastoral councils that it's a cool thing to do to their own heritage churches.
Artists can release their creative juices in a new church. But let's respect our forefathers and the artisans who built the heritage churches by keeping theirwork intact, without the explosion of gold leaf and murals which weren't originally there to begin with.
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