Saturday, April 4, 2015

VISITA IGLESIA 2015: BULACAN

April 4, 2015

For the past few years, we had been doing our Visita Iglesia, or the practice of visiting seven (or more) churches during Holy Week to pray and meditate on the Paschal mysteries, around Metro Manila. We have visited various historical and new churches in Manila, Quezon City, and just last year, Makati.

This year I planned for us to visit churches in a nearby province. We decided on Bulacan. These are the seven Bulacan churches we visited yesterday Good Friday:

1. NATIONAL SHRINE OF THE DIVINE MERCY

We exited NLEX from the Marilao exit (no. 23). I just followed the road up to the dead end, then turned left. Not long after, the traffic already got very heavy and we were just inching along. I turned right when it pointed to the parking area. There was a very long queue of cars as well. Parking was P20 for a car. Luckily, it was not too difficult to find a parking spot on the field.



There were really so many people there walking under the burning hot 11 am sun, making rounds in the life size Stations of the Cross. In the basketball court, you could rent an umbrella for free by just leaving a valid ID, an offer my wife took up. We trekked up to the front together with the crowds and entered the church from the front door.




2. OUR LADY OF LOURDES GROTTO CHURCH

From Divine Mercy, the Grotto is still quite a long distance away in Tungkong Mangga. There was a Savemore near the corner of the main road where you should make a right turn. It is still quite a distance from the turn, but the road just went on straight until there was a road block. Luckily there was still space in the parking lot near the road block. It was already 12 high noon and very hot when we got down to walk to the church.



I was very excited to visit this church because it was said to be based on the actual church of Our Lady of Lourdes in France. However when we got there, it was very disappointing to see that people have littered trash all over the grounds and these have not been collected yet. There were a lot of market stalls selling food, clothes and other dry goods lining the road going to the church and even in the church patio. After saying our prayers inside the church, we did not stay anymore to look for the actual grotto and just walked back to our car.

3. ST. ANDREW KIM CHURCH

From Grotto, we found ourselves back to the main road heading back to NLEX. We took a lunch break at the Hidden Sanctuary Resort restaurant, which unfortunately had very slow service so it was already about 2 pm when we left. There was a bit of a detour fronting Divine Mercy church, so it was not easy to get our way back into the main road. We crossed NLEX over to the other side and went along the service road. We just followed this road all the way till it reached McArthur Hi-way, with a McDonald's right at the corner.




We crossed the intersection to the other side and saw this church on the right side. This was the St. Andrew Kim Parish Church, which was surprisingly unfinished. We said our prayers and looked at some of their historical displays outside depicting the history of St. Andrew Kim, a Korean priest and martyr who stayed in Lolomboy before. There is a shrine further along the road, with an ornate chapel and pagoda with an Oriental motif. This was a very peaceful, serene area with a quiet lake beside it.






4. ST. MARTIN OF TOURS CHURCH

From St. Andrew Kim, we drove back to McArthur Hi-way and turned left. We crossed over a big bridge. To go to the St. Martin Church, I was told to turn left at a 7-11. I just followed the road in and finally saw the church. We parked at the side of the church since the front area looks narrow.



When we got inside, we were lucky to be just in time to hear their church choir singing "Pananagutan" and "Tell the World of His Love." It was a very moving performance. This is one of the oldest churches in Bulacan, dating back to the 1600s. This is the church where the Holy Cross of Wawa, of the Pagoda Festival fame, is enshrined.

5. ST. LAWRENCE THE DEACON AND MARTYR CHURCH

We got back to McArthur Hi-way and continued to the next town of Balagtas. The St. Lawrence Church is located on the right side of the road just behind the Balagtas Municipal Hall. Its history goes back all the way to 1598, though the facade we see now looks modern already because of repeated renovations.




6. ST. ILDEFONSE CHURCH

From McArthur Hi-way, we went on to the next town of Guiguinto. St. Ildefonse Church is a small church located on the left side of McArthur itself, before a bridge. There is a school located beside it. Though it looks modern now, this is is also a very old church with a history dating back to 1691.




7. NATIONAL SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA

I had wanted to go on to the next town of Malolos, but it is already about 5 pm and the kids were tired. So I turned back and returned to Manila also via McArthur Hi-way. For our final church to visit, we decided to stop by the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Valenzuela, a city that used to be in Bulacan, but had been included in Metro Manila since its inception in the 1970s. I have heard of this shrine for a long time, but this is the first time I have actually seen it.







18 comments:

  1. Beautifully captured !! It looks so divine and peaceful.

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  2. My dad's from Bulacan but I've never really explored the province even though it's near QC. Awesome shots of the places you've visited, loved the Pagoda most. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Thanks for sharing. It's interesting to see our culture in pictures. :)

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  4. Never in my life that I've experienced this Visita Iglesia. Those are great churches that you visited. Panata lang talaga , di ba Sir?

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  5. It was 9 years ago when I last had my visita iglesia with my parents. I hope I can continue this tradition with my kids.

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  6. Beautiful churches... Happy exploring church.

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  7. Wow... You should provide the list of addresses for these places so that people interested can visit too!

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  8. My family and I have never experienced going from one church to another for Easter. It must be tiring but really fulfilling though. I have to add it to my bucket list.

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  9. We always do Visita Iglesia, but this year we were not able to do it for some reasons. :(

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  10. We do Visita Iglesia in Batangas and this post would be a big help once we decide to do it other place. Thanks for sharing Fred. I'm always fascinated at the architectures of the different churches in our country. :)

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  11. The National Shrine of Divine Mercy looks so colorful! I love the designs on the church's ceilings, I'm amazed how you got through all those people. I would also love to see the St. Andrew Kim parish once it's completely finished.

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  12. Wow! The churches are very spectacular. Good photographs.

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  13. This was something I missed doing last Holy week because of a work deadline. The church with a Pagoda looks really nice. You also were able to visit a lot of wonderful churches.

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  14. I love sacred places like these ones. You can feel the energy of the pilgrims and the love for God, the faith...Love your photos.

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  15. What a huge event and outing to so many holy sites. I love the idea and would like to do it.

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  16. Wow this is a different tradition. I thought travelling should not be allowed instead. But hey, traveling to 7 different churches is exciting and a better reminder of what holy week is.

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  17. It's always a pleasure to learn about different cultures and traditions. I am glad that I read this post.
    Fatemah Sajwani |What Fatemah Says

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  18. Beautiful churches, I've never been to any of them unfortunately. Hope the Easter week was spent well with family.

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