For the adventurous who want to try a Visita Iglesia not in Metro Manila, try going to Bulacan this Holy Week and visit some churches there. If you're not from there or do not have any relatives in Bulacan, go during the day. At least when you get lost, there will still be people you can ask for directions. Or just follow the map I used. :) You will only see maps as images on this article. For photos of the churches visited last year, please click The Bulacan Visita Iglesia.
I choose Bulacan last year because I was quite familiar with the place...or so I thought. Well, its time to share to everyone the route I took, just in case someone else would want to go. My starting point here is Malolos City, where you can find Barasoain Church, the most famous landmark in Bulacan. Less than a kilometer away is the Basilica of Immaculate Conception and the 3rd red circle is the Santiago de Apostol.
|Barasoain, Malolos Cathedral and Santiago de Apostol in Paombong. For larger image, click here.|
After Santiago de Apostol, I tried to reach the "Bisita" in Kapitangan inspite of the narrow roads and the thickening crowds walking along the road, hoping to see penitents. Add to the challenge the vendors who sell by the roadside, it can make you break a sweat. The car almost reached the chapel but there was no parking so turning around and going back to the major roads was the only option. Once out of Kapitangan road, head west to Hagonoy to the Shrine of St. Anne which has a very beautiful interior.
|To St. Anne Shrine. For larger image, click here.|
Heading back to Malolos, I passed the same roads so there shouldn't be a problem reaching Malolos again. While you're passing Paombong, buy from the local vinegar makers by the streets. Try to look for those who have "banga" in their yards used for aging sukang paombong. You might want to try also the patis they sell. I bought one bottle, and I regretted it...regretted buying just one! I thought patis would just be fishy and salty but strangely, there was another dimension to the patis sold in Paombong. I don't know what they put there or what technique they use to make it, but it was good.
After reaching Malolos again, cruise by MacArthur Hi-way heading to Manila. Passing by Paradise Hotel and Resort on the left side, look for the first road on the right and take it. Going straight, you will be able to reach Sta. Isabel Church after a few hundred meters.
|From Malolos to Sta. Isabel and St. Rita. For larger image, click here.|
To reach the next church, one has to go back to MacArthur Hi-way and take the Tabang interchange to Baranggay Sta. Rita. Head straight, the Church of St. Rita is just by the road on the right side. It didn't look like a typical church, that's why I almost missed it.
For the 400 year old church in Pulilan, continue along the road where St. Rita church is found, going over the North Expressway, passing thru Plaridel, all the way to Pulilan Public Market then turn left. Go straight, it can't be missed.
|To Santiago de Apostol in Pulilan. For larger image, click here.|
This may not be the best route to take as there were churches I might have not known about, but I haven't really planned this trip well. It was more of a mix of little knowledge of Bulacan, some hunches, some asking around from the people who live there and the guts to get lost. Follow the red line of these maps, you won't get lost (hopefully). Good luck!