Sunday, March 13, 2016

Visita Iglesia in Tarlac and Pampanga

A Holy Week Special
7 Churches in 12 Hours

What does Visita Iglesia means? According to Rappler, Visita Iglesia or Church Visit is a Holy Week practice where devotees visit and pray in at least 7 separate churches. It morphed into a form of pilgrimage and meditation for the Holy Week, and also a form of seeking penance for sins. Superstition even has it that wishes would be granted upon completion of a Visita Iglesia. 

This holy trip is becoming a yearly thing in our office. We started it last year and visited 7 churches in Laguna and Quezon. This year, I was the one in-charge of looking for churches that we could visit. We are very particular with the churches we choose to visit, it must be old, a church that holds history. Also, I personally love to visit old churches, I feel reconnected to my past. 

Anyway, I am going to share with you guys out itinerary for our Visita Iglesia. We left Manila at 5 in the morning and arrived at 7 in the evening. 

Sir Ronald Sanchez beside his new Toyoto GL Grandia
You can do it also or choose other churches. I highly suggest that you hire a van/car whenever you are doing visita iglesia as it will save you more time. In that case, I personally recommend Sir Ronald Sanchez, you can reach him with this number, +63-932-255-3733, a very techie and polite driver I have ever met. He uses a navigation app and you don't have to worry about getting lost plus his van is spacious enough for 11 people. He was referred by Sir Macq, who also have a wide network of vans for hire, +63-998-561-5736. If you are looking for a van, you may contact Sir Macq, just tell him that you were referred by me and he will give you discounts. :)

Here are the churches we visited:

1. St. Josemaria Escriva, Gerona, Tarlac
A newly built church dedicated to the founder of Opus Dei, St. Josemaria Escriva. This luxurious church is in Bgy. Maspac, Gerona, Tarlac and it is only 10 minutes away from Pura/Gerona Exit in TPLEX and an hour away to Monasterio de Tarlac.

With Fr. Ato

the so - called "drive thru" of the church, for those who need to feed their soul

2. Monasterio De Tarlac, San Jose, Tarlac
Where the 30Ft statue of Risen Christ is standing. Monasterio De Tarlac became popular and going there is really easy, you just have to follow the signs. One could take TPLEX and exit at Victoria or exit at Tarlac in SCTEX. Monasterio is 30 - 40 minutes away from Tarlac City.

A very scenic place

Since the chapel is small to accommodate large number of devotees, the station of the cross is in the quadrangle.
Statue of Risen Christ

3. San Bartolome Parish Church, Lacson Street, Magalang, Pampanga
From Monasterio De Tarlac, this is an hour and a half drive but I suggest that you skip this church and just head your way to Angeles especially if it is already past 11AM. The best alternative here is the Apung Macalulu Church.

Note that they're closing the church at lunch time
This is interesting, those are tombs

4. Holy Rosary Parish Church, Angeles, Pampanga
This is situated at the downtown of Angeles. I love the ambiance of this place, very rustic. There are old houses around the area which were turned to business but still managed to restore it. This church is part of the 7 Holy doors in Pampanga.

We were able to witness a wedding. <3

5. Metropolitan Cathedral of San Fernando
Don't be confused with this cathedral, the google map will tell you that it is along McArthur Highway but the truth is, it is located at downtown of San Fernando, facing the Capitol. This church is also part of the 7 Holy doors of Pamapanga.

7 churches of Holy Doors.

6. St. James the Apostle Parish Church commonly known as Betis Church, Guagua, Pampanga
Among the churches we visited, this is my favorite. It may look old and shattered on the outside but inside it is full of saints and painting. It may be rustic but I love every piece of it. I love the wooden floor, the walls that were hand painted and the simplicity of it. This is a must visit church in Pampanga, plus every lenten season they have a museum which showcases the life of Christ and some of the Saints. 

The Museum
Inside of the Betis Church

7. Santa Rita De Cascia Parish Church, Dalan Betis Rd, Santa Rita, Pampanga
This is the final church for our Visita Iglesia. The church was crowded because of devotees from Diocese of Antipolo, they almost filled the church. The church is renovating but they still preserved the outside structure. 

The Exhibit during Lenten Season
The facade of Sta. Rita Church

That ends our Visita Iglesia, I hope this post helped you decide where to go on your next church visit. I think no matter what your religion is, visiting old churches is still a must do in traveling if you are into history and culture. Visiting churches will not just feed your soul but also feed your knowledge about the churches you visit. 

Verdict of Tara Gumala: Pampanga will not just feed your soul but also your tummy. This is a perfect place to visit churches and to be gastronomic.




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