The Philippines is so lucky the Supertyphoon Chedeng (international name: Maysak) we were expecting weakened upon entering the Philippine territory. I say it was a blessed Holy Week.
|Here's a photo of Typhoon Maysak as seen from outer space. Scary big huh?|
We spent the Holy Week in Pampanga for a change since we always spend it in our home in Cavite. Thankfully, it was a fine weather the entire week so our plans for Visita Iglesia pushed through. We visited the first batch of Churches at the night of Maundy Thursday. It was my first Visita Iglesia (as I can remember) so I was not expecting the crowd that greeted us, church by church. People were doing a vigil and praying until midnight when the Churches are expected to close. The first churches we visited are those close to our home in Angeles, Pampanga.
|Holy Rosary Parish Church also known as Apung Mamacalulu in Angeles, Pampanga|
Just look at the altar set-up. Happy that they gave God the same attention to detail as they would give some high-ranking official or a well-known celebrity. There's even a touching, instrumental background music to boot! Yung habang nag-dadasal ka, mapapa-emote ka bigla. Hehe. Ganon pala 'pag Maundy Thursday night. All the churches we visited that night had a background music.
This is still inside the Holy Rosary Parish Church. It goes by so many other names by the locals like Santo Entierro but the family likes to call it Apung Mamacalulu (Merciful Lord) because it sounds cuter. It's called Apung because of the statue inside it depicting the burial of Jesus Christ. The Church has been recently recognized by National Commission for the Culture and the Arts as a national historical site.
|Carmelite Church and monastery|
|How they set-up the altar|
We also dropped by this Parish on our way to San Bartolome Church. I was not able to take photos inside. We just prayed and went on our way to our next stop. Pero ang ganda rin ng set-up and lighting nila ha, even though their parish is quite small.
Our last stop for the night is the San Bartolome Church in Magalang, Pampanga. It is nested in the heart of Magalang, in the town proper. It was established by Augustinians in 1605.
|Lighting's not good at night but you can still appreciate the beauty of the church.|
On Good Friday, we started Visita Iglesia in Metropolitan Cathedral in San Fernando, Pampanga. It was built on 1775 by the Augustinians friars as well.
|Metropolitan Cathedral of San Fernando|
|I have a thing with ceilings|
Before entering the church there was a bloody man near the entrance. In the Philippines, especially here in Pampanga, some people do extreme penitence by allowing themselves to be crucified (yes literally!) or by self-flagellation like carrying crosses or whipping they backs until they bleed. My brothers and I wanted to see how they actually crucify people since the venue near our home but my mom and sister wants none of it, of course. My sister can't even get inside the church without someone going ahead of her to block the view of the bloody man. Dito yata ako sa Pampanga may pinaka-maraming nagpe-penitensya.
|Here are some of them outside the Metropolitan Cathedral|
Next is San Vicente de Zaragoza Chapel in Bacolor, Pampanga. It's also quite smaller than the others, too. It's quaint and hasa homey feel to it just like Calaruega in Batangas.
We weren't planning on stopping by the next church but we were glad we did. We were looking for the half-sunken San Guillermo church and we thought this was it. It wasn't. We were intrigued by it's pyramid-like structure. This is the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Cabetican, Bacolor, Pampanga.
|The original church also buried by lahar of Mt. Pinatubo|
|The brothers, Kevin and Jed fooling around.|
|They built a new church. They covered the image of the miraculous Our Lady of Lourdes for this Holy Week|
It looks really old on the outside. Well, it still looks old inside but in a good old way. Magnificent and majestic.
|Would you look at that marvelous ceiling and imagine the painter injuring his back for this grand masterpiece.|
|Door details of the main entrance|
|Ma with brother, Bryan|
|This old house is just beside Betis Church. Isn't it a thing of beauty?|
|Another old house.|
|With my sissums, Gay and my brother Keith photobombing us. :)|
|Please allow me with this one selfie. Hihi.|
Next stop is the Immaculate Conception Parish, also in Guagua, Pampanga. I wasn't able to take a photo outside.
We were about to go home because we can't find the other half-sunken church when we passed by this old church that's out of the way. We had to make a U-turn. And there it was,the half-sunken church of San Guillermo Parish Church in Bacolor, Pampanga.
It was named after Bacolor's patron saint and was constructed by Augustinian friars in 1576. The church was buried at half its 12meter height in lahar when Mount Pinatubo erupted in June 15, 1991.
|The Jesus Christ sculpture is a bit creepy|
Inside is a beautifully rustic interiors.
|Because of the high ceiling, you won't feel it's half-buried|
More pictures outside..
|Again, door detail.|
|Pops outside the church|
I fell in love with Pampanga's old churches. But what I love more is how genuinely religious the Kapampangans are, with how they really listen to homilies (no texting/chitchats/sleeping!) to how they maintained and restored their much valued old churches. There are so many other churches we could have visited but we don't have much time. But there's always next year. :)