To Visit the Churches (Visita Iglesia)

One of the activities to commemorate the Passion of Christ in the country is Visita Iglesia or Church Visit. In the Philippines, it dates back to the Spanish colonization in which Catholics visit seven churches to pray and meditate.

The tradition has its roots to the early years of the establishment of the Church, when there were 7 great basilicas in Rome that Christians would visit for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. (http://en.wikipilipinas.org/index.php?title=Visita_Iglesia)

I remember my first attempt doing this religious activity when I went to Antipolo (sans the long walk). I was quite surprised of the big crowd gathered in the church’s courtyard. It was a mix of tradition, family gathering, bonding and travel.

In this solemn week, I decided to list down the churches I have kneeled and prayed at during my trips. Which among these were you able to visit?

Parish Church of Villa de Arevalo

Parish Church of Villa de Arevalo

Located in Arevalo in the province of Iloilo, it houses the 3rd oldest Sto. Nino  in the country. The white facade reminds me of an old house.  Creepy as it may seem, the photo of my friends in front of the church looked like a rendition of the American Gothic painting.

Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Baclayon

Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Baclayon

Every time I visit Bohol, I always drop by in one of the oldest church in the country to give thanks for the safe travel. I think that this is close to my heart since I was a member of Children of Mary group when I way in grade school.

It has a museum that houses church paraphernalia as old as the Church — including a “music room” with large song books. As the photo shows, I will always be fascinated with this elevated seat that reminds one of a royal watching an opera.

Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Bantayan Island

Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Bantayan Island

Aside from the white sand and secluded beaches in the island, this 5- hundred year old church located in the heart of the town is one of the island’s tourist draws.

Made of stones and corals, it is a cool refuge from the not so busy streets of the town proper. It also houses a simple museum that contains, among others, the order from the Vatican that the island is exempted from abstinence of meat during the Holy Week.

San Lorenzo Ruiz Church in Binondo

Minor Basilica of St.  Lorenzo Ruiz and Our Lay of the Most Holy Rosary Parish  in Binondo

Located in the corner of Ongpin Street, it stands proud among the banks and fastfood restaurants.  It was build in the 1500s but was damaged over time with the bell tower as the only remaining original infrastructure.

I am always in awe with its altar in gold trimmings.

Church of Saint Thomas of Villanova or the Miagao Church

Church of Saint Thomas of Villanova or the Miagao Church

A trip to Iloilo is not complete without a visit in this famous landmark in this side of the province. I remember braving the rains of Typhoon Frank just to reach this church in Miagao.

According to exploreiloilo.com,

“The artistic facade of the Miagao Church is decorated with a relief sculpture of St. Christopher carrying the Christ child amidst coconut, papaya and guava shrubs. Like any other foreign influences, the architecture of many colonial churches has undergone the process of indigenization. This process is carried out by incorporating the prevailing Hispano-American and Medieval Spanish architecture with local as well as Muslim and Chinese touches….Supporting the facade are the twin belfries, one towering two-storeys and the other three-storeys high. The church’s simple interior is nevertheless highlighted by a striking gold-plated retablo.”

The Church of Saint Anne in Molo, Iloilo

The Church of Saint Anne in Molo, Iloilo

Still in Iloilo stands the red roofed Molo Church. Known for its Gothic architecture  that looks like a castle, it is one of the tourist attractions of the province. The interiors is made outstanding with the 5 pairs of pillars and statues of 16 women saints lining up to welcome churchgoers.

The Church of St. Augustine in Paoay, Ilocos Norte

The Church of St. Augustine in Paoay, Ilocos Norte

The giant “wings” or buttress of the church makes this landmark north of the country a must see for devotees and tourists alike. The baroque style architecture is mesmerizing that one can imagine walking the church grounds during 1700s. If studied closely, the “towers” on the roof look like small temples reminiscent of temples from the other parts of Southeast Asia.

Basilica Minore of Sto. Nino del Cebu

Basilica Minore of Sto. Nino del Cebu

The most visited church during Sinulog festival and beyond. The Basilica houses the oldest religious image in the country — the Sto. Nino or the image of Child Jesus.

I have never seen the Basilica replete of people given its  popularity among devotees and Filipinos. For the many instances I have been there, I always line up to view and “kiss” the image while saying a little prayer.

The Basilica is also a tourist destination. Nearby are the Magellan’s Cross, the fort, Parola, Gorordo Museum and the oldest street in the country- Colon. It is like a devotion that once in Cebu, go to Sto. Nino.

The Church

The Church

Among the many churches I have been to, this is I called The Church akin to Jamie Sullivan’s church in the book/movie A Walk to Remember.

The church located in the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary Immaculate Heart Convent is a small church located in San Jose, Tagaytay. It is non descript with its plain looking architecture among the tall pine trees in the compound. The interiors, on the other hand, has some sort of a divider to separate the nuns from the common churchgoers which really attracted me.

It has been my church of worship when I spent my summer before college . Over the years that I have attended workshops and trainings in Tagaytay, the simple facade made me fall in love with it that it made me decide that it will be the church where I will tie the knot.

 

Real Fuerza de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza in Zamboanga City

Real Fuerza de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza in Zamboanga City

Fort Pilar, as what locals call, is like home to me. Every time I am in my birthplace, I always visit the place to light a candle and say a little prayer. Then, a visit to the national museum at the side.

Countless processions that I attended always end up in this religious landmark. First-time visitors are always brought here. Numerous candles have been lighted to give thanks or ask some favours.

Since this is a fort, it is an outdoor church with concrete pews. Early morning and late night churchgoers flock Fort Pilar (yes, we don’t call it a church) for their daily devotions.

After the siege, I don’t know what it looks now since I haven’t been home for more than a year. I do wish that the old birdhouses are still there, Pinang’s (women selling candles and prayer books) still trading their wares and the colourful popcorn and cotton candy makers still luring the kids.

Have a Holy Week, everyone.

A Year of Travel

2013 seem so distant yet a few hours ago, everyone was celebrating like it is the last night of the world. For instance, I was on my way to Sydney (or the nearest place to be) to watch the spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks. Alas, we can’t even get near Balmain backstreets or get a parking space for people were getting ready to party. The fifteen minute spectacle was viewed in a faraway park with only the upper half of the fireworks can be seen. I knew from that moment, that I will be back in NSW – Sydney to be exact for another run of the NYE celebration.

Another run holds true for the travels I have made in 2013. My travels were more of revisiting the places I have been to in the past. Not bad for some have changed through the years. Some changed after I left. Some changed me.

January was revisiting San Vicente after a long hiatus of field work in the area. It was also a return trip to Ilocos after a long time. It reignited my love for dinuguan (blood stew) with crunchy pork strips and Batac empanada.  February was focused on Siargao for the much needed presentation of the one year work we have done in the island. March is a birthday in Guiuan, which will never be the same again. It was also an opportunity for me to visit Indonesia for the first time. Ties were binded among ASEAN representatives and German colleagues after we were holed in Bogor for nineteen days.

Windmills in Bangui

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Surf Camp in Calicoan Island, Guiuan

Dinner at Bohol Bee Farm

Dinner at Bohol Bee Farm

I am grateful with my work which showers me with travels once a month. Second quarter of the year gave me an opportunity to visit Bohol, Cagayan and Hanoi. Places you learn to love as your own. A stay in Bohol Bee Farm was all natural, including the fresh flowers as salad. Tuguegarao and its vicinities made you realize there is more to Region 2 aside from the Sierra Madre and hot weather. Hanoi was an adventure for it was my first time to negotiate with the airline staff after my luggage was left in Hongkong. It made me realise that I don’t get intimated when going out socially with people from G8 countries. (big smiley here)

Inside Callao Cave, Cagayan Province

Inside Callao Cave, Cagayan Province

Tuguegarao Church

Tuguegarao Church

It was an adventure for the women in the family when we all visited Hongkong in the height of Typhoon Utor. The storm signal no. 8 didn’t deter us from walking along Mongkok, Nathan Road, Disneyland and Lantau Island. I wish to have more trips with Nanay and Lyn in the future. After Utor/Labuyo, it was all habagat on my way to Legaspi City. Thankfully, Mayon Volcano welcomed our LGU guests with open arms (and beautiful view of the cone).

Night Market in Hongkong

Night Market in Hongkong

Magayon na Mayon, Legaspi City

Magayon na Mayon, Legaspi City

The last quarter of the year was a roller coaster ride. I experienced first hand the magnitude of Typhoon Haiyan when I was in Tacloban on the day it made landfall. I endured the nite of sleeping in cold floor, the day with minimal water to drink and the long and depressing walk out of the city. No interviews, photos and videos can describe the fear I felt from 7.30 AM to 9:00 AM on 8 November 2013 in Algo Homes in Tacloban City.

What was left of everything after Haiyan. San Jose, Tacloban City.

What was left of everything after Haiyan. San Jose, Tacloban City.

George River in NSW, Australia

George River in NSW, Australia

As they always say, there is a rainbow after the rain. What a big rainbow indeed! Christmas and New Year were spent in Australia after months of dreaming of coming back. I remembered posting that I wanted to go back there in the midst of summer. Look, I was there when Sydney reached 40s. My three week stay in a suburb, faraway from home, was an eye opener. I realize that wherever you place me, I will find a way to see the sights. I will always be a wanderer by heart.

Happy 2014! More opportunities to get lost!

Made for long walks.

Made for long walks.

Peaces of Places

Port Barton

Port Barton

As much as I like taking photos, I also like to be in the photo. There are instances, though, that a selfie or a selca wont cut it. I prefer showcasing a place instead of my humongous forehead grabbing the spotlight.

 

Cloud 9, GL

Cloud 9, GL

San Vic runway

San Vic runway

Daplak, Boayan Island

Daplak, Boayan Island

Manmade Forest in Bohol

Manmade Forest in Bohol

Sto. Nino in SVP

Sto. Nino in SVP

I’ve been told that this became some sort of my signature pose. Kinda. Sorta. Maybe this means I found peace in every place I’ve been. Maybe it is just Love holding a Peace sign.

Daughters of the Beach

That is Shiryl, my besty, and me all over the different beaches around the country. In between beach trips, we are also accompanied by our fellow beach lovers like Rhiza (in Bantayan, Puerto Galera), April (in Bantayan), Glen (in Camara, Capones and Anawangin), Agnes (in Puerto Galera), Mike and JD (in Zambales) and my cousins Che and Tere (Panglao, Virgin Island and Balicasag).

There are also interesting people we meet along the way like Owen and Patrik in Coron, Tatski in Bohol, Benjie the pedicab driver in Sta. Fe,  Tita in Boracay, the couple +1 in every island we dropped by in Busuanga, Myra and Med in Puerto Galera, and those names I forgot.  Hope to bump them again one day.

And hope to meet a lot more in our next beaching.