Visita Iglesia, a Spanish-influenced Filipino tradition of visiting seven churches during the season of Lent, allows the faithful to renew spiritual vows and commitments. It may perhaps be a great time as well for filial and friendly bonding and to see how our Catholic faith evolved along with the structures that maintain them.
|Visita Iglesia 2015 - Albay Map|
Many Catholics in Metro Manila usually visit the provinces of Batangas, Laguna, Quezon and Rizal for their annual Visita Iglesia tradition. Some would even go on a Visita Iglesia in Ilocos to visit old churches in Vigan and Laoag, as well as the UNESCO inscribed Baroque churches in Paoay and Santa Maria. This year, make your Visita Iglesia 2015 a bit different by visiting old churches in Bicol in the southern part of Luzon. The province of Albay offers a great Visita Iglesia experience because the churches are centuries-old, adjacent to one another and welcome the faithful any time of the day!
San Lorenzo Church, Tiwi
Start the church pilgrimage at the northern tip of the province of Albay. The present-day church of the municipality of Tiwi is an old structure built in 1829, rebuilt and fortified in the succeeding years by the parish priests and townsfolks. Christianity was established in the town in 1658 and was formally under the Diocese of Nueva Caceres in 1696. It is dedicated to St. Lawrence and is the center of religious and cultural functions of the town. Getting to Tiwi takes about an hour and a half van ride from Legazpi City Central Terminal. Alternatively, a great way of completing the seven churches is hiring a vehicle to ferry you from one site to another. That saves you time and allows you to focus on the Visita Iglesia.
St. John the Baptist Church, Tabaco City
This church in Albay’s version of the city of love is the biggest in this visita iglesia series. The present-day church was completed in 1879, started in 1864, and replaced the original one built in 1616 by the Franciscan order. Tabaco City’s parish church is distinct in the entire country because it bears the symbols and markings of the Masons. This church is easy to locate because it is at the heart of the city, just across the city hall and plaza.
St. Anna Parish Church, Malinao
The smallest in this series, Sta. Anna Parish Church of Malinao is an 18th century design. The original church built in the 1600s was destroyed when Mayon Volcano erupted in 1767. It was rebuilt then after and today’s church has time’s memories etched on its surfaces. The belfry houses the bell that still sounds to invite parishioners on Sundays and special occasions.
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish Church, Malilipot
Head next to the small town of Malilipot. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish Church stands in the middle of a wide ecclesial domain. This is off the main road, however, and unlike the rest of the churches in this series, it is not immediately proximate to the municipal hall. The best way to maneuver is to ask the parishioners. People of Malilipot takes pride in the structural aesthetics of the church that they will respectfully point to their religious center. No worries, though, the town is small and navigating it is easy.
St. Rose of Lima Parish Church, Bacacay
Founded in 1649 as a barrio of Tabaco, Bacacay became an independent town in 1660 consequently erecting a church to signify this political and religious event. The same year is written upon the church entrance as a reminder of its resilience. Although this is no longer the original church constructed, this present-day edifice still mimics the architecture of the first church building. Outside the church is a statue of the risen Christ.
St. Dominic de Guzman Church, Sto. Domingo
A prominent landmark in the charming town of Sto. Domingo is its parish church. Its antiquated architecture is appealing, accentuated by the plants growing on its surface. The church structure dates back to 1820, an original edifice built with massive stones and a mixture of lime, egg albumin, and molasses as binders. Just like most churches in the country, it is a stone-throw away from the town hall.
Our Lady of the Gate Parish Church, Daraga
Nestled on top of a hill, this church is a National Cultural Treasure as declared by the National Museum. A marker is seen at the entrance to signify its structural importance and the need to preserve it. The church is more than 230 years old, and once in a while, restoration of the church takes place. Ending the Visita Iglesia in this parish church gives you ample time to enjoy the view of the majestic Mayon Volcano.
If you are planning to have your Visita Iglesia 2015 trip in the warm province of Albay, hiring a cab may be the best option. Rates for a whole day tour (and side trip) start from P3,500.00. Each taxi can accommodate up to a maximum of four passengers. You may contact Dennis Llotando of JOCD Taxi at 09089220404.
|Author: Jonathan Guerrero
Pinas Muna Regional Contributor, Legazpi City, Albay
mrjjguerrero.com | IG: @JonathanJaimeGuerrero
Editor: Ramil Delos Reyes
HQ Editor & Content Manager, Manila-based financial researcher, European languages specialist, traveler, foodie | IG: @pinasmuna
Disclaimer: Photos used in this article are owned by the Author unless bearing the Pinas Muna watermark. As a Pinas Muna Regional Contributor, the Author is giving pinasmuna.com the consent to publish his/her photos.