It was Maundy Thursday, 2010. Since our out of town trip was not yet due until Friday, we decided to spend Thursday in a more or less traditional fashion, having the “visita iglesia” (church visits), sans the stations of the cross.
The visita iglesia requires one to visit seven churches on Maundy Thursday. According to Wikipedia, this tradition dates back to the days of the early christians, when they visited the seven pilgrim churches in Rome.
While we may not be in Rome, this tradition is fondly followed by Filipinos anyway. For me and my family, this meant visiting the churches in Manila. Unlike last year, when went to churches in the neighboring provinces, this time we decided to stay closer to home.
Our first stop was the renowed Baclaran church. This is one of the churches that figure prominently in the Catholic culture of Manila. Baclaran as it is today, is a place teeming with pedestrians, merchants and buses loading and unloading people. For those not acquainted, it would seem a daunting prospect to brave the crowd and go into the church.
It was only through the request of my aunt-in-law, that we chose this as our first stop. This is only my first time to see the Baclaran church, in fact, though I was always curious about it. That curiosity though, flees as soon as I see the thick mass of people outside. I’m not fond of thick crowds.
Our next stop was, well..not a church, but lunch. As we were right along Roxas Boulevard, we thought about going to Harbor Square, and fortunately a few restaurants were open. It was also a peaceful afternoon on Manila Bay.
Our second stop was another church that has also become part of our culture. The Black Nazarene and Manny Pacquiao have assured it of its nationwide popularity…Quiapo. Like Baclaran, the Quiapo area itself is not that inviting, unless you are there to look for bargains (of anything and everything). Yet in the midst of the round the clock chaos, is the church known for being the ending point of the procession of the Black Nazarene, and perhaps an icon of hope for many.
And inspite of the time of year, Plaza Miranda, right in front of Quiapo Church, was bustling with life as always.
Our third stop is perhaps one of the most beautiful looking churches in the country, San Sebastian. Its Gothic inspired architecture and unique color will surely catch the eye of anyone who catches a glimpse of its tall spires. The interior is equally stunning a well.
Our fourth stop is right beside the Malacanang grounds. The St. Jude Parish is literally the President’s next door neighbor. This Parish was specifically dedicated to the Filipino-Chinese community.
Our fifth stop was at the “baluarte” of the Dominicans, which was also once the School of our National Hero, the University of Santo Tomas. So how did the country’s oldest university end up in the visita iglesia? Well, there’s actually a parish in the campus.
Our sixth stop is the church of Mar and Korina fame. Santo Domingo, in Quezon City.
The last stop for this year’s visita iglesia is perhaps one of the newest in the city, the Shrine of St. Therese. It’s the big orange one you’d see the moment you step out of NAIA 3. The church is set in a cluster of condominiums and hotels, and it is pretty much as luxurious as its surroundings. In fact it’s the only church I know that even has basement parking!
* all photos taken during the Holy Week of 2010, with Olympus E-420 and Zuiko 14-42mm f3.5-5.6.