Probably, the most challenging trip in recent memory for me. Lacking sleep and rest, straight from work, with the hottest of seasons upon us – I committed to worship in all seven Yglesias I listed down from the other night with the help of Layug’s classic, “A Tourist Guide to Notable Philippine Churches”. The mission was to start from the church Pagsanjan back to San Pedro, from 10 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon.
I’ve embarked on such Visita Yglesia when I was younger but kalokohan always gets the better of me. When you’re young you don’t take these activities seriously. You’re on it because there’s nothing else to do during Viernes Santo. And then, you reach adulthood and you start to realize that there’s more to it than just being a trip. When you age, all of these traditions start to make sense. The meaning jumps out, it becomes clear.
The Iglesias on the list, in order: Pagsanjan, Sta. Cruz, Pila, Los Baños, Calamba, Cabuyao and San Pedro. I had to replace Victoria and Ba-I as there were very few roving jeeps going to these towns and I was under time constraint. I had to keep going and so decided to go to Los Baños and Calamba instead.
After covering roughly around 200 kilometers of traveling, using only public transportation which was fast becoming infrequent as the clock nears 3 pm, I reached the last Yglesia, the final stop – pass 3 in the aftrnoon time.
Pagsanjan, Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe
This church, first built in wood and nipa by Father Agustin de la Magdalena in 1687, was reconstructed in 1690 by Miguel Guan-Co and Aguacil Mayor Alfonso Garcia, improved in 1853 by Father Joaquin de Coria and its transept added in 1872 by Father Serafin Linares and cipriano Bac. The Church was damaged during the WWII. Its three level early renaissance façade has a semicircular arched main entrance and choir loct window. On its left is a three storey bell tower topped with a dome.
The church houses the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The original image, a gift from Mexico, was stored in the main altar in 1688 but was destroyed during the American air raid on 15 March 1945. In 1946, Mexican Catholics donated a life size image of the Virgin made by Ramon Barreto, a noted sculptor from Toluca. Another image was sculpted by prominent Manila Sculptor Maximo Vicente is also housed in the Church.
Sta. Cruz, Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Concepcnion
First built by the Franciscan Father Antonio de la Llave in 1608, this church was enlarged in 1672 by Father Miguel Perciva with the addition of two wings (giving the church the form of a cross). It was improved in 1850 by Father Juan Antonio Marzo, who built the principal nave and convent and remodeled the five altars. The church was destroyed during the 18 July earthquake. It was reconstructed by Father Antonio Martin de Vidales in 1881, assisted by Filipino Father Gregorio Ercilla, his coadjutor. On 26 January 1945, the church was partly destroyed by fire during the liberation in the WWII, leaving only the walls and stairs of the convent. It was reconstructed in 1948 through the initiative of Father Mariano Limjuco.
Pila, Church of Saint Anthony of Padua
The town’s church was first built in 1618 but was transferred to its present location in 1800 due to frequent flooding The present structure was built in 1849 by Fathers Antonio Argobejo and Domingo de Valencia, badly damaged during the 18 July 1880 earthquake (Its bell tower toppled), repaired by Father Damaso Bolaños and finished by Father Lope Toledo. The convent, completed ini 1849, was also serisouly damaged during the 1880 earthquake.
Los Baños, Church of Immaculate Conception
The church was first built as a chapel from 1613 to 1727. Destroyed by fire, It was rebuilt in stone on its present site by Father Domingo Mateo in 1790. The belfry, sacristy and tile roofing were supervised by Father Manuel Amat in 1852. The convent and bell tower were destroyed during the 1863 earthquake but repairs were made during the administration of Fathers Manuel Rodriguez and Gilberto Marin in 1880.
Cabuyao, Church of St. Policarp
This church was first built in 1637 along the lakeshore in what is now Barrio Marinig. A big flood in 1763 destroyed he church. The present structure, built further inland in 1771 was renovated in the 1970’s. Its bell dates from 1850. Bullet holes in the churchs stonework date back to the 1935 Sacdal Massacre.
San Pedro, Shrine of Sto. Sepulchro
Home of the miraculous Sto. Sepulchro of Barrio Landayan.
Thank you Lord Jesus.