TaDi Snap Shots

Friday, April 13, 2012

Four Blessings and A Smile -- Our Visita Iglesia in Bulacandia


Every Holy Week, our family and relatives have a tradition -- Pabasa (day long chanting of Jesus Christ's story), Walk to Kapitangan and sometimes Prusisyon (procession of biblical images).  That's why it's a NO NO for me to go elsewhere at that time of the year since our family have a yearly Lenten practice and a reunion as well.  How can I let go of such wonderful tradition and bonding time right?  Anyway, while planning for this year's Holy Week activities, my Tita Elvie and I thought of something different this time around.  And that gave birth to the idea of a day long, Bulacan-wide Visita Iglesia!

Visita Iglesia is a Catholic tradition done every Holy Week to pray and remember Christ's life, death and resurrection.  This is just like the Stations of the Cross where people stop and pray every station (there are 14 stations) that represents a stage in the Passion of the Christ.  In Visita Iglesia on the other hand, each church represents a station.
Mom lighted a candle and offered a prayer at Baliuag Church.

Since the start of the year, I've been busy packing up and going to different places.  In fact, as I've noticed, there's always a trip for me each month!  And that somehow lessened my time for my family and friends.  So to make up with them, I suggested this Visita Iglesia.  And though planning and confirmation had a slow pace, my Tita Elvie and I made sure that it pushes thru!

So right after our yearly pabasa (which falls on a Holy Thursday), we were all set to do our family's Visita Iglesia at our hometown, ang matulaing lalawigan ng Bulacan (the poetic province of Bulacan)!  My aunt said that we should start early (5 am) so that we can finish it by 3 pm.  She said that the churches will be closed by 3 pm since it marks the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.  And even with less sleep and rest, we were all headed for the challenge!  The challengers were Tita Elvie, Tito Beng, Tita Malou, Jelly, Jessa, Allan, Virgie, Queen, Harvey, Ate Jona, Jewel, CK, Mama, myself and our driver Jun.  

All of us were together at 5 am, packing the food and everything else so we were a bit late and started the road trip right before 6 am.  And the first church we visited and prayed at is the new Santisima Trinidad parish in Malolos City, Bulacan.   Tita Elvie, Tita Malou and Mama brought out  their prayer books and guide for Visita Iglesia and everyone shared it with them.

We all agreed to have at least one group shot in every church that we visit.  

After Santisima Trinidad, we had the second station at Santiago Apostol Parish in Plaridel, Bulacan.

The church was built between 1580 to 1595 by the Agustinians.  It was moved to the main town by 1605.  In 1722, it was renovated and repaired.  Its first parish priest is Victorino Lopez who became a leader in the Philippine revolution under Captain Jose Serapio of Sta.Maria, Bulacan.

Third station was at the San Isidro Labrador Parish Church in Pulilan, Bulacan.

San Isidro Labrador's old tower bell was destroyed by earth quake in 1882.  After more than half a century,on October 18, 1979,  the bell tower was rebuilt and erected through the voluntary donations of townsmen and other people.

After Pulilan, we proceeded to San Agustin Church in Baliuag, Bulacan for the 4th station. 

From Baliuag, we went to the Sacred Heart Church in San Rafael for the 5th station.

Our sixth stop was at San Nicolas de Tolentino Church in Calumpit for the 6th station.

From Calumpit, we headed to Sta. Ana Church in Hagonoy for the 7th station.  This is where we had our lunch!  :)

We saw these people in white praying in front of the church of Hagonoy.

just enjoying the colors of samalamig hehe

After Hagonoy, we went to Paombong for the 8th station.

CK, my nephew, is such a happy kid!  :D

And then we visited the most important church in Philippine history which is also closest to our heart, the Barasoain Church (Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish) in Malolos, Bulacan.

Barasoain Church is the birth place of the Philippine's and Asia's first republic.

From Barasoain, we paid respect to the Malolos Cathedral (Parish of the Immaculate Conception of Mary).

The 11th station in our Visita Iglesia was at Bulacan, Bulacan.

My mom, aunts and cousins enjoying the tour

After Bulacan, Bulacan, we then visited the elegant church of San Ildefonso in Guiguinto, Bulacan.

The church in Guiguinto is one of the oldest churches in Bulacan.  Many believe that the church was built prior to 1691.  Last year, before the 400th anniversary of the church, the facade was renovated and repainted.  I heard that the facade was much better now.

But what impressed me most is the interior of the church!  It was so classy, elegant and majestic.  True to the town's name (Guiguinto) where the church it's stand, it looks golden!  :)

It's time for a wacky shot!  And Tita Elvie took the lead!  :D

From Guiguinto, we went back to Malolos and did the 13th station at Sta. Isabel.

My family lives in Malolos but this is the first time I saw Sta. Isabel Church.  This one is so beautiful, the patio is big and refreshing, the church is stunning, and the entire place looks a retreat house. 

Our 14th and last station was at our home parish in Mojon, Malolos, the newly built Quasi Hearts of Jesus and Mary parish!

We visited old churches and heritage sites and while Quasi Church was just built recently, it didn't fall behind when it comes to architectural beauty.  Just look at how the facade looks, it's equally and classy. 

And since we finished our Visita Iglesia on time, it's time for a victory shot! 

And the jump shot!  :D

And to let you know, we finished the Visita Iglesia at 2:40 pm!  We made it!  :D  It was just like the Amazing Race but with much more meaning.  :)  And one best way to end a journey under the scourging heat of the sun is... a halo-halo break!

Pinoy's summer favorite -- Halo-Halo! 

I hope my Bloggies Rod Magaru, Jeman Villanueva, Ruth Floresca and Myke Soon could join us next time around!  :)

And with that, I realized what we actually got from this Visita Iglesia: four blessings and a smile! :)

First and foremost is spiritual.  I must admit, although raised and exposed in Catholic faith, I sometimes forget or neglect my spiritual being.  This activity let me reconnect to our God.  And it's one big blessing I am really thankful for. :)

Mom lighting candles at Santisima Trinidad

Second is cultural.  As a Christian Filipino, most of our classic tradition and practices are rooted from our faith.  And this activity me exposed me to that and our beautiful architectural heritage.  I just realized that our old churches are not just houses of faith but of arts, culture and tradition.

Third is physical.  Just imagine that we woke up at daybreak, went to 14 churches located at different towns and municipalities of Bulacan, endured heat and sudden shift of temperature inside our van, and beat a deadline of 3 pm!  How can you not be thankful for such a workout?!  :)

Fourth and last is emotional. To tell you honestly, I am really so happy and fulfilled to witness how my mom, Tita Elvie and the rest, including the kids, were so happy of this activity.  We were together in prayer, in appreciating beauty, in going through the challenges and having a fun time.  I am also happy to see how the kids got exposed and learned this kind of prayer activity from their parents.  And with that, everyone's excited for our next year's Visita Iglesia.  Now, there's a new activity added to our yearly Holy Week tradition.  :)  How's Pampanga or Cavite?  :)

CK, who's addicted to computer, learned to pray and have fun with the family. :) 

It was one bonding moment that we will cherish forever.   And all those four blessings lead me to another blessing... a big smile. :)

And that's my Treasure Find 22.  :)

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