Saturday, April 7, 2012

Rizal Visita Iglesia 2012

So last year it was Visita Iglesia in Bulacan, as you have read in my previous posts. I was thinking many people have been doing the same thing ages ago, so what makes this different? The plan was not to stick to one place, but visit many!

Due to budget constraints and logistics, Rizal province seemed the most economical and most accessible, and with heritage churches all over Rizal, there couldn't be a better choice. More so, it seems like a better starting point for those who want to try something different during the Lenten Season.

Being a firm Catholic, I really have to express my disagreement in replacing usual Lenten practices with vacation on a beach or some fun place. But no one can really blame the people taking their time off to relax and enjoy since there's no day of the year that can give a 4 day rest from work. In reality, whatever anyone does during Maundy Thursday or Good Friday, so as long as its done in the mindset of "reflection and penance" and doesn't violate any morals is more or less acceptable. Visita Iglesia is a pilgrimage, and it definitely falls under the recommended practices during Lent.

The first stop was at Our Lady of Light Parish in Cainta. One of the old churches of Rizal, what now stands is a restoration of the former church which was burned to the ground during the Philippine-American War.

The second was the parish church of St. John the Baptist after a short drive from Cainta. In an elevated place in the center of Taytay stands a monumental structure that was improved over the centuries. I'm beginning to think Americans like burning our churches as this was the second one scorched during the war.

Since the route is taking me south, the next logical destination is Angono. Unfortunately, I haven't heard of any old church there so the town was skipped and the next stop was Binangonan. Sta. Ursula church has been standing in the center of the town for more than 200 years and it was a magnificent sight. Inside, the distinct historical charm is all over. Combined with the eerie lighting of the altar and the stone walls, it is a sight to behold.

Passing through Cardona to Morong (didn't stop at the church in Cardona), it was a quick 15-20 minute drive to the church of St. Jerome. One of the most popular churches in Rizal, it boasts of unique architecture and a very dominating facade. You couldn't miss it because of its towering baroque design, and the wide set of stairs leading to the western face of the church.

Next stop is St. Joseph church. Since it was past lunch and the grounds of the church was quite spacious, it was the perfect spot for a little break. There were even open tents, tables and chairs in the patio of the church, with several families having lunch there already. Good thing we have our baon and a mat, and it quickly became a picnic.

After the meal, we entered the church and you would immediately feel how cool it is inside. Looking up, one would see old timber in the ceiling and some flying creatures. I'm not really sure if those are bats or birds, but I'll just assume its bats since that's what locals say.

The church in Tanay is one of the more grander and more affluent of the churches I visited this year. Located at the center of Tanay town proper, it is a 400 year old church. On its parking, we bought white corn from an old lady which was very sweet and delicious. Anyway, the church is a National Cultural Heritage site and it is well maintained.

The last of the churches in Rizal we visited was Mary Magdalene parish in Pililla, Rizal. Personally, I find the upper portion of the facade quite off, but I believe it is still a work in progress. What is really beautiful is when you get inside the church. See for your self in the photo below.

After the final stop, everyone was really tired and the trip back to Manila was a quick one hour and a half drive. Good thing no traffic during those days heading home. Cruising along Ortigas Avenue Extension, we see the early birds of "Alay Lakad" penitents making their way to Antipolo. Maybe someday I'll write about them. But for now, I'm looking forward to next year. Time flies really fast, and pretty soon, it will be time to write about my next destination.