Visita Iglesia in Pampanga

We went to Pampanga last Maundy Thursday to visit churches. The road trip was very relaxing amidst the tiring summer heat. Anything that's out of my usual routine is good. We were able to check out six churches in Pampanga, and two in Bulacan (on our way back home). I took the liberty to do a little research about each church we visited before posting pictures here. It was interesting to read a little history about each.

Our first stop was the Metropolitan Cathedral in San Fernando. The Augustinian Friars built it in 1755, initially just out of wood and thatch. It was reconstructed in 1788 after it was transferred to secular priests. In 1899, General Antonio Luna ordered the Phil. Revolutionary Army to burn it down. In 1939, it suffered yet another fire before it was restored to how we see it today. Pope Pius XII elevated it to cathedral in 1948.

Outside the San Fernando Church, we saw a couple of devotees subjecting themselves to physical punishment to show penitence for their sins.

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Next stop was Bacolor Church, one of the oldest and largest in the Philippines. Its patron saint is San Guillermo. It was built in 1576 also by the Augustinian Friars. The interiors is of Baroque style. The church was destroyed by an earthquake in 1886. In 1995, 4 years after the Mt. Pinatubo eruption, lahar flowed down and buried half the church along with other residences of the town. The remains are still being maintained to this day.

These two images on the right show the preserved arches of the old windows of the church, and what's left of another buried house nearby.

This is a lifesize image of the Virgin Mary in the Bacolor Museum. It is said that the blemish on her right cheek could not be removed with any means of cleaning. A disbeliever hurled something (a stone? I forgot) at her and the Blessed Mary bled. Days later when he saw that the cheek stain would not go away, he knelt before the image and repented for his sins.

Betis Church or St. James Parish in Guagua, Pampanga was our third stop. Its construction started in 1660 but was only completed in 1770. It is the Sistine Chapel of the Philippines because of the paintings in the walls and ceilings depicting biblical events. It is one of the ten churches declared a national treasure by NCCA (National Commission for Culture and Arts).

Still in Guagua, we proceeded next to the Immaculate Conception Church. It was built in 1772. The interiors is of Ionic style and the facade of Doric architecture.

We next moved on to Lubao Church (St. Augustine Parish), one of the oldest churches in the country, built in 1572. Augustinian priest and architect, Fr. Antonio Herrera, headed the construction made of bricks and sand mixed in egg albumen.

Filipino revolutionaries occupied it in 1898. Then the American soldiers used it as a hopsital in 1942 during WWII. It was damaged heavily on the same year when the Japanese attacked. It was repaired in 1949.

We proceeded to Sta. Rita Church for our sixth stop. There is scant information about it on the internet. I wonder who is the patron saint. Anyways, I surmised this church is rather old based on the facade.

It has a beautiful domed ceiling with paintings.

Outside, we saw some Aetas and had a chance to take pictures of them.

The following day, on our way back home via Bulacan, we passed by St. John the Baptist Church in Calumpit. It is the oldest church in Bulacan built in 1572. It has survived the Spanish, American and Japanese colonizations. It has a tunnel inside that priests used in the Spanish period to keep gold, statues and other jewelries. It was in the same tunnel that Spanish and Filipino revolutionaries were buried during the war.

I asked about the tunnel from a lady who was cleaning, and she gladly led me to a room behind the altar. She showed me the entrance permanently closed already while reduced to an unkempt storage of church paraphernalia.

The Barasaoin Church in Malolos was our last stop. It is also known as Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish. Its image used to be seen in the our ten-peso bills before it was phased out. This historical church was founded by Augustinian missionaries and built in 1630. "Barasoain" means baras ng suwail (dungeon of the defiant). It was named such because of Filipinos who rebelled against the Spanish reign and used the church as their meeting place.

Barasoain Church is witness to some important events in history. The Malolos Constitution was drafted here in 1898-1899, and was the venue of the inauguration of the First Philippine Republic in January 1899.Both Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo and Joseph Estrada were also inaugurated here.

Our road trip ended here, and I think I slept on the way back home. Also most of the other times. :)
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