Visita Iglesia

My mom and I went with my sister, her family, and the in-laws to their Visita Iglesia for the Holy Week. I'd never done this before, but I had such an interesting time, and I think I'd like to do this again next year. We didn't do the Stations of the Cross, though. We just prayed and lit candles. A lot of candles.

Here's a list of the churches we visited.


The University Belt churches, all of which are within walking distance to each other. The path to all those churches were lined with vendors hawking all sorts of things, from food, like calamares (I'd never seen calamares being sold as street food before! Lucky U-Belt kids!), all-sorts-of-balls-and-the-like (chicken, squid, fish, kikiam, and kwek-kwek), to bottled water and flavored beverages, to candles and religious paraphernalia.

1. The San Beda Church, which I loved for the gilt of gold on the statues and the ceiling, and because once a Bedan, always a Bedan, though I didn't go to San Beda College because, first and foremost, I'm not a boy.

2. San Sebastian Church, "the only neo-gothic steel church in the Philippines and in Asia" (UNESCO's words, not mine).

3. Saint Jude Thaddeus Church, about which I can't find anything on the internet. I'm not surprised, because it looked like a new, very functional building. Nothing very striking, except that you have to go through heavily-armed guards before you can get to St. Jude because this church, and the school that it's associated with, is inside Malacañang. But this is where I prayed longer for all my loved ones, St. Jude being the patron saint of lost causes.


The one Chinatown church we went to is a special one for me. And not just because when I go there, I make a quick side trip to Ongpin Street to go to Eng Bee Tin to buy hopia and Lord Stow's to buy my favorite egg tart.

4. Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz. I like this particular church because when my sister was still pregnant, and was looking at a tough pregnancy, we went to this church while touring my aunt and my cousin, and I lit candles for my sister and my other petitions, and all of them came true.


The churches here have a special place in my heart, because when I was working for The Philippine Star, I used to visit them a lot. I always thought I'd get married in San Agustin Church, and then have a reception at Father Blanco's Garden. And have sampaguita ice cream from Ilustrado as my reception dinner's dessert... But that was then, when I had a specific groom in mind.

Walking from one church to the other was like touring a Wow Philippines! display! The short road was lined on both sides with more native street food, including fresh coconut juice, roasted bananas slathered with margarine and coated with sugar, boiled Japanese sweet corn, roasted corn, green mangoes and bagoong (shrimp paste), and other products like malongs, native carvings, native bows, cheap but pretty shoes from Korea that's currently a rage in bazaars, and the usual sort of accessories.

5. Manila Cathedral, or the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Cardinal Rosales was holding a mass when we arrived. The place was so crowded.

6. San Agustin Church, under which, they say, Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi is buried. Like I said, I used to fancy getting married here. But not anymore, because I already have a non-negotiable church in mind, the church where my sister got married.


The last church we went to, and which gave us a hard time in terms of traffic.

7. Malate Church. It's a beautiful 100-year old structure that stands on where the original church was built sometime in the 1600s.

That's all. :)