Saturday, April 19, 2014

Visita Iglesia around Manila



When I was still in Davao, I always wanted to make a Visita Iglesia, but never got a chance to do it because there was no one to accompany me, until 2014 when I come to live in Metro Manila. Thank God! Finally, I was able to fulfill this divine activity yesterday, Good Friday. Thanks to my ever beautiful and supportive friend, Rowena Tagaan, for accompanying me ^_____^

After taking a long, tiring walk from San Agustin Church
I asked Rowena to take me a photo souvenir (in front of the entrance gate of Fort Santiago in Intramuros) before catching a PUJ ride for Malate Church

Visita Iglesia is a pious Roman Catholic tradition during Holy Week where devotees visit seven Catholic churches to meditate on the Passion of Jesus Christ. Normally it is done either on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday. The modern practice of this tradition is praying two station of the cross for each church. 

SEVEN HISTORICAL CHURCHES WE VISITED:

1. Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (also known as Quiapo Church)- Quaipo, Manila
2. Sta.Cruz Church - Sta.Cruz, Manila
3. The Manila Cathedral - Intramuros, Manila
4. San Agustin Church - Intramuros, Manila
5. Our Lady of the Remedies Church (also known as Malate Church) - Malate, Manila
6. Basilica Minore de San Sebastian - CM Recto street, just across Quaipo Church
7. Redemptorist Church (also known as Baclaran Church)- Baclaran, Paranaque City

PHOTOS OF THE HISTORICAL CHURCHES AND DETAILS

First stop: Quaipo Church
First and Second Stations of the Cross

I arrived in Quiapo, Manila at 9:30 in the morning, it was my first time to be in the place but I was not afraid, I was more excited to accomplish my wish to visit historical churches around the area. The surrounding of the church was already packed with people by the time I arrived.

Despite the intensely hot weather, I did not complain. I moved forward to the entrance area and tried to squeeze in among the crowd still I wasn't able to enter the  church, I just stood outside. I started making station of the cross alone because my friend, Rowena Tagaan, texted that she would be coming late. I prayed for first and second station then went to the other side of the church to breath! Haha! So crowded!!! I felt so suffocated and I was perspiring hard, my shirt was already drenched in sweat.

Few more minutes, I walked ahead and started looking and wandering where to find the Sta.Cruz church, I went to the other side of the road and asked some vendors, they told me to go back to Quaipo church and follow a narrow street in what could have been Sta.Ana street.

Few more walks with a very alert mind, carefully gripping my sling bag (afraid I might encounter a snatcher because the place was a little messy hehe!), I arrived in Sta. Cruz church (thank God for my safety!). I went inside and seated for a while to rest my tired limbs, my feet were terribly aching due to a long walk of searching the church. By the time my friend Rowena arrived, I already finished meditating on the third and fourth station.

Our third stop was at the Manila Cathedral, we hired a pedicab from Quiapo to Intramuros. This church is home to the Archdiocese of Manila where key religious activities are being held. The interior of the church is slightly modern after it undergone a renovation but the old touch of the ancient design can still be seen. This church is very famous for celebrity weddings.

After the Manila Cathedral, we decided to drop by at 7 Eleven store and bought a bottled water and one cone of Ice Cream because the weather was severely punishing and seemed pricking excruciatingly on our skin. We started asking again where to find our fourth church stop the San Agustin Church. We were told to walk straight ahead, it is just four blocks away from the Cathedral.

The church's exterior is built in stone and upon looking at its ancient structure I thought it is just a plain, simple church, but when we entered inside, a display of opulence and architectural wonder greeted us! The interior is so fabulously rich in artistic details, the chic structural design, gorgeous chandeliers, so fantastic!

San Agustin Church, one of the most popular wedding sites in Metro Manila due to
its very romantic and elegant architectural design
San Agustin church is an architectural wonder! 
The elegant details of the church's interior feature an art technique where
realistic imagery is being used to create an optical illusion that depicts 
an object in three dimensions

Our fifth stop was at the Malate Church officially known as Our Lady of Remedies, we did not know the location of this church, we just kept on asking people as we passed by in the street. After absorbing the direction they had given, we left Intramuros and caught a PUJ, we told the driver to drop us at Malate Church.

This church is just in front of Raja Sulayman park and directly facing the Manila Bay so the environment is cool and refreshing. After praying the 9th and 10th station, we decided to take a little break and spent lunch at the nearby Shakeys, yeah I know it was not supposed to be a time of food tripping, sorry Lord for this expression of luxury, but we really felt extremely tired and very hungry and ignoring the hunger pangs might not bring any good to our already exhausted muscles. I figured, maybe we would not perish in hell by just breaking the "less eat" tradition of Good Friday.

After taking lunch, we're back in our little spiritual adventure again, asking the people nearby how to go to our next stop, the San Sebastian Church. And this is where the funny moment hits in. The church is just within the vicinity of Quiapo LOL!! Had we known it earlier, we would have visited it ahead of Intramuros. Anyway, lesson learned hehe! So we were back at Quiapo! 

Upon disembarking from the jeep, we asked a lady vendor again for the exact location of San Sebastian Church, she pointed us to a narrow street leading to a bridge, we started walking to the direction and upon reaching the edge of the bridge, we saw the two towers of the church with its icy mint green paint. Oh it was awesome!

Before making our way to San Sebastian, we saw this intriguing convent along the way haha! So we entered the area and climbed the stairs, it was so quiet but we heard voices upstairs, we found out it was a chapel of the Holy Face of Jesus Convent. The Seven Last Words celebration had started when we entered the chapel. After posing for a moment inside the chapel, we left the convent and moved forward to our destination.

Originally built in the late part of the 19th century, San Sebastian church, which is dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, earned the reputation of being the only church in Asia that is built from steel and claimed to be the only prefabricated steel church in the world. In 1973, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines declared this church a National Historical Landmark.

I was in awe upon seeing the structure of San Sebastian church! Very European in appearance. Unlike other churches we visited earlier, the surrounding of San Sebastian Church is so breezy, cool and very comfortable, it has also a spacious quadrangle with clusters of buildings nearby. We lighted a candle on the left wing side of the church in front of the image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel! According to the marker of the church, the structural metal of which the church is built was manufactured from Belgium and was brought to the Philippines and erected by Belgian Engineers. 

Our last stop was at the Baclaran church, officially known as The National Shrine of Mother of Perpetual Help, again we don't know where to catch a PUJ for Baclaran, we endured another miles of long walk, asking bystanders and vendors where to wait for jeepney, with their contrasting instructions, we ended up on the wrong road hahaha!

Finally, we crossed the street and found a PUJ for Baclaran, the dense traffic made the travel very slow! And as if the wandering was not enough, upon arriving in the street the driver said already Baclaran, we're afraid we're taking the wrong road again!!

After going up to the foot bridge and crossing another street and another street, we decided to ask a lady vendor and our fear of taking the wrong road proved very true because we're walking on the road to Pasay!! The lady told us to cross another street and wait for a PUJ that would take us to Baclaran church.

Finally!!!At 5:30, we arrived at the church and well, just like at the Quiapo Church, the area was packed with large crowd! 

We were not able to kiss the crucifix of Jesus because the line was soooo long!! So we proceeded to the right wing and lighted candles then prayed the last set of the Station of the Cross. We finished the Visita Iglesia at 6:00 in the evening.

Before catching a PUB, we looked for a place where we could chill down because we're already overwhelmed with exhaustion and thirsty, we wanted to drink something very cold. We found our way to Jollibee.

At 7:30 in the evening, we left Baclaran. By the time, I arrived home it was almost 10:00 in the evening, my limbs were badly aching and my muscles seemed beaten by a hard object, but I felt a deep level of satisfaction, my heart was full of happiness for the fact that I was able to accomplish my long wish to do a Visita Iglesia.

What made this spiritual activity very meaningful to me?

God's grace! I felt God's guidance and protection all the way. Despite the unfamiliar location of each of the church we visited and the anxiety of going to a place they always refer as scary and prone to snatching and other horrifying crimes, I felt so safe, so peaceful and intact. In fairness to the environment, I did not experience any troubles.

I am very thankful also to my friend, Rowie Tagaan, for her support and determination to complete the devotion despite the discomfort she felt haha!

MORE PHOTOS OF THE CHURCHES AND DETAILS IN MY TRAVEL ADVENTURE BLOG CLICK HERE

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