Friday, March 09, 2007

Laguna & Rizal: Visita iglesia around Laguna de Bay churches

After our shooting the rapids in Pagsanjan with my guest from China, I decided to complete the Laguna de Bay loop with a visita iglesia. I have an older post on Laguna with details of some of the towns we visited and missed. First on the list was the town of Paete which is known for its woodcarving and paper mache industries. The Santiago Apostol Church has intricately carved retablos and centuries-old mural paintings of San Cristobal among other subjects.
From Paete, we went drove to the next town Pakil. The San Pedro de Alcantara has equally interesting retablos, santos and mural paintings.
It was quite a drive from Pakil to the next stop which was in the province of Rizal. Since the sun was going down fast, we were not able to pass by the town of Mabitac which according to travel guides has a church standing atop 126 stone steps. It was a pleasant drive seeing the green rice fields hit by the golden rays of the setting sun on either side of the road.
After the zigzag road up and down the highway boundary between Laguna and Rizal and a few more kilometers drive past the town of Pililla, we finally reach Tanay and easily found the San Ildefonso Church, a national cultural treasure.
It had been quite a while since I've seen this church and I was totally shocked that the main altar had been painted gold and silver just like in Argao. It's the good thing the priest spared the santos from this rampage of gold leaf but it was horrible since Tanay was known for its white retablo with aquamarine and gold details. I was told by Archt. Richard Bautista of the NCCA that they were able to stop the priest from wreaking havoc to the other retablos thanks to the strong opposition from the townsfolk.
According to the DOT, "The first Tanay Catholic Church made of nipa and bamboo was built in 1606. The current building made of locally quarried stone was completed in 1680. In 1783, it was reconstructed together with the convent. The church is an example of early Renaissance architecture. It has a four-storey octagonal tower, a fa├žade of adobe blocks, relieved by columns and semicircular arched windows. Its podium is adorned by a niche with the statue of San Ildefonso de Toledo, the patron saint of the town."
From Tanay, we moved on to our last stop which was the San Geronimo Church in Morong. If we had more time, we would have passed by Baras but since it was getting dark, we rushed instead to Morong. The church has one of the more striking facades and is one of the more photographed churches of the Laguna loop. But sadly, the interior has already been renovated.
The first church was said to be built by Chinese craftsmen in 1615 as evidenced by the Chinese lions at the driveway entrance. It's current facade, a splendid example of Philippine Baroque, was completed between 1850 to 1853 to support the belfry built on top of it.
We completed the Laguna loop by passing through the towns of Cardona, Binangonan, Angono, Taytay, and Cainta (we were supposed to pass through Antipolo but since it was dark, I missed the turn) and finally reached Pasig City. Anyway, it was tiring day so I'm reserving today for rest.
Related entries

Visita iglesia to our heritage churches
Holy Week practices in the Philippines
Visita iglesia and more Holy Week practices in the Philippines
Visita iglesia routes for Holy Thursday


  1. Wow! You are on the run again !

  2. Yup, I actually have a lot of backlog since I was in Ilocos as well as Baguio City. I had a friend from China over so great excuse to go places. :)

  3. Anonymous6.4.07

    Hi Ivan,
    I just discovered your site a few days ago, while trying to prepare for my Laguna Loop-Visita iglesia and thanks for it, my itinerary was perfect. In fact, it was well organized that we did 13 churches yesterday. We started in Antipolo, then to Morong, Baras, Tanay, then to Pakil, Paete, Lumban, Pagsanjan, Cavinti, Luisiana, Majayjay, Liliw and then Finally to San Pablo. Like you, I like visiting the cultural heritage churches of our country and just been starting to do this appreciation tours. Its a shame that I first discover this passion, when I lived in France for 3 years and appreciated very much the Gothic cathedrals of Picardie and around the area. My next plans will be perhaps the churches of Ilocos! If I could be of help to your site or your conservation drive, just let me know ! This is really a great site, Cheers !! Joey D.

  4. Anonymous28.4.07

    Too bad you missed Mabitac.It's a very, very, very small town but very charming. The church itself isn't really breathtaking but the setting, along with the steps leading to the church is what catches your attention. The church was bombed in World War II resulting in a really humdrum concrete facade, but the Spanish-era belltower remains, with traces of earlier reconstruction at its base. The hill is really high, because when you start at the base of the stone steps leading to the church you can see already the impressive height. The church was built there to commemmorate a well with allegedly healing waters, the location of which is now lost. The best thing about being on the church grounds is the beautiful view of Rizal and Laguna countryside all over, along with the Sierra Madre.

    The interior of the church is really nondescript, but you can judge from some bas reliefs found in San Agustin church museum that were once in Mabitac, that the interior was beautiful.

    Try going there one of these days...

  5. Anonymous27.3.13

    Hi Ivan, can we do Laguna Loop in 7 hours. We will leave Ortigas at 8am on a Maundy Thursday? If not, what's the most number of churches that we can visit?


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