Being of the Roman Catholic faith, we designate one day of the year to join in the spirit of Lent by doing the Visita Iglesia. Admittedly, I think I have only completed the entire 7 (or 14 churches representing the 14 stations of the cross)) once . But I think its the thought that counts. So every year we go on with this tradition.
This year, we set off on Good Friday and decided to revisit the different towns of Laguna starting with the town of Sta. Cruz. On our way there, we passed by a group of flagellants each with a hood over their head. The phrase “don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” comes to mind.
It was the first time for me to see this in person. It’s not visible here but bright red blood was literally pouring from their backs. I was taking the photo from the car which we just parked on the side of the street when we saw them coming so I didn’t get a closer shot. There were some men who were part of the group designated with pouring alcohol over their backs probably in order for the wounds not to get infected by all the dust and dirt. I can’t even imagine how that would feel.. OUCH!!
Once they had passed, we went to the town proper of Sta. Cruz for our first stop at the Immaculate Conception. On the way we came across watermelon vendors and we were lucky to buy very sweet ones (red and yellow).
Upon reaching the town proper of Sta. Cruz, watch out for the one way streets around the church. We were lucky to park at the fast-food outlet across the street. On the outside, it looked like a very old church but on the inside it was somewhat modern and very simple. Not as large as I thought by looking at the exterior.
After doing the first two stations we headed out to our next planned town which was Liliw. You might also want to buy some kesong puti (cottage cheese) on your way out of Sta. Cruz.
Being almost noon, we decided to eat lunch over at Liliw. This town is actually known for two things. One of which is their thriving shoe industry (I bought two pairs just for myself and a few others for relatives) and the other being the cold water spring that runs through it. We stopped over at one of the resorts to enjoy our packed lunch. Too bad we didn’t have time to take a dip but we had already been to one of the resorts before and all I can say is the water is really cold. Definitely one of the things to enjoy during this very HOT summer!
After finishing our lunch of steamed crabs, shrimp and fried fish (it is Good Friday after all), we went to the town proper to visit the church. This is definitely one of my favorites when it comes to architecture. What makes it different is that it’s made from bricks and its beautiful both from the outside and within.
Inside the walls, it’s well lighted and adequately ventilated. At the time we visited, there was also a short performance
by students who I assume are from the town itself, commemorating Jesus’ carrying of the cross. Soon after, we ventured out unto the beautiful plaza located directly outside the church and into the street lined with shoe shops.
They were selling shoes and sandals for very affordable prices. The designs were also quite good and could even compete in the international market. Shoppers have a number of stores to choose from and everything is quite organized and the surrounding area very, very clean.
Our next stop was the town of Nagcarlan right beside Liliw. This is also a magnificent church which has a nice interior.
But what I can distinctly remember from this church is their depiction of the dead Christ and grieving Mother Mary. This can be found in the courtyard within the walls of the church. It really caught my attention because the statues are so life-like and full of emotion.
Our fourth stop was the church of Pila. I really liked the location of the church. It was in the very center of the town and the streets alongside it were lined with old houses which looked to me like they had been there since the Spanish era. The church itself looked very old on the outside but upon entering its walls, you immediately see the large contrast vs. its exterior. The inside is quite modern and immediately reminds me of the church in Forbes, Makati (Sanctuario de San Antonio).
By this time, we were already quite ready for our break so we decided to take it right then and there at the parking lot. Outside the church was an expansive plaza and field where people were milling about and some vendors were selling snacks. We had brought our own home-made suman (thanks to Espie’s mom and aunt) and cool drinks to enjoy “cowboy style”.
After a short while, we were again off to Victoria. This church was very modern compared to the others and was not very big. What made this visit different though was that we were just in time for the procession to start. Thus, all of the images were already at the church courtyard giving me a chance to get some very nice shots.
This turned out to be our last stop for Laguna because it was getting late and we wanted to avoid all the traffic in the Calamba area. We were only able to complete six churches but I think the overall experience made up for it. This was definitely one of the best visita iglesia experiences we’ve had. Hopefully, we will be able to visit new places next year.