Saturday, April 23, 2011

Visita Iglesia 2011

In the Philippines, there is a tradition called “visita iglesia” (church visit) which is carried out during Holy Week. The practice probably originated in Rome and was introduced in the Philippines by the Spanish Catholic friars. Traditionally, the faithful visit seven churches on Holy Thursday but now church visits are done throughout  the Lenten period; some have expanded it to fourteen churches, saying one Station of the Cross in each church.

St Therese - UPLB campus

San Antonio - Los Banos Crossing

Immaculate Conception - Los Banos Bayan
For the past several years, it seems that on Good Friday we always end up in Liliw, Laguna, having started out from Los Baños. This year, we altered our route a bit. Still starting close to home, we first went to the church (St. Therese) inside the University of the Philippines Los Baños campus, followed by two churches still in Los Banos (San Antonio in Crossing and the Immaculate Conception in Bayan). Then came the church (St. Augustine) in the next town, Bay. We had started out at around 11 am and it was a hot day! Everytime we would get out of the air-cooled car, we could feel the intense heat pounding on our heads. By the time we were in Bay, we were ready for some cool refreshment – “dirty ice cream”! 

The next church was the one in Pila, then onto Pagsanjan. It was already past lunch time; I could not remember how to get to one restaurant that I had been to before so we drove on. We were supposed to go to Nagcarlan then Liliw (as in previous years) but then when we got to the intersection, we saw that Caliraya was just 7 km away. Well, why not? We had not seen the man-made lake for quite some time and we could have lunch there.

St Augustine - Bay

St Anthony - Pila

Our Lady of Guadalupe - Pagsanjan

Caliraya looked different from what I remembered; there were resorts and other establishments that did not use to be there. Anyway we were starving by this time and we saw this quaint restaurant by the roadside. Waiting for our orders to be cooked took a while; we finally had lunch at around 2 pm.

We still had one more church to go to complete the seven; we decided to go to Paete. Driving into town, we saw the places that did wood carvings but they were closed. The roads seemed to be getting narrower and when we were almost at the town proper, the road was blocked! There was a procession under way and traffic had been re-routed. We had to pass even narrower roads in order to get back to the highway. By this time, the pounding in my head that had started in Pagsanjan was a full-blown headache (I guess it was because of the combined effects of heat and hunger) and I was eager to get back home.

On the way back we decided to make one last effort and turned into the road leading to the town of Victoria. We always pass the town’s sign on the highway but have never really seen the town proper. We had been driving for a while but still had not located the church even when it seemed we had reached the end of the town. Why no one thought of asking for directions, I don’t know. Finally, we decided to turn back and when  we were almost back to where we had started from I spotted the church (or maybe it was their chapel) but then it was close. Oh well, maybe next year we will complete the seven.

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