Visita Iglesia in Laguna

Visita Iglesia has been a tradition in the family every Holy Week. We used to visit 14 churches: One station per church. But this year, we visited only seven churches in Laguna together with the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals-Calamba, the religious organization of my parents.

First stop was the Immaculate Concepcion Parish in Brgy. Timugan in Los Banos, Laguna. It is near the Municipal Hall of Los Banos. Los Banos is about three hours away from Manila. At around 8:00 am in the morning, the church was still half empty.

From Los Banos, we proceeded to the St. Augustine Church in
Bay, Laguna, Church of San Antonio de Padua in Pila, Church of
Sta. Cruz, Church of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe in Pagsanjan,
Church of St. Gregory in Majayjay, and the Saint John the Baptist
Parish of Liliw.

Travel time from one church to another took about 30 to 45 minutes except for the church in Majayjay. It was a long drive from Pagsanjan to Majayjay as the church is situated amidst the lush green forests of Laguna.
It took us about an hour and a half.

Baroque architecture can be observed from the facade of the churches.
They have that “old look”. But when you get inside these churches, you would notice how the interiors were renovated.

Liliw Church

Among the churches, the red brick church of Liliw was the most visited.

Vehicle owners had a hard time looking for a parking space. Liliw became famous because of its “tsinelas” (slipper/flipflops) industry and its cool river resorts. Maybe, these were the other reasons why the town was jampacked with vehicles in its narrow roads.

For Roman Catholics, the Holy Week is supposed to be a time to reflect how
life is lived. It is a time for God. But others use this for vacations.

If you’re planning to visit churches, it is advisable to bring your own vehicle. Wear light clothes. Bring packed food and water so you won’t have to stop and buy. Thus, you save time and effort. In our case, we ate our packed food at Japanese Garden near Lake Caliraya in Caliraya, Laguna. Entrance fee for adults is Php 10 while the fee for children is half the price.

If you happen to forget the New Way of the Cross booklet, you can buy them from vendors outside the church.

Visita Iglesia created different meanings for every individual. For church goers like us, it’s a tradition. For vendors, it means business.

You can view more photos here:

Church hopping in Cagayan Valley

What makes every travel worth one’s sweat is a sumptuous meal.

Before leaving Cagayan Valley for Ilocos Norte, Dir. Bless Diwa of the Department of Tourism Region II welcomed us in her home, where she served us native delicacies and her refreshing concoction called the Diwa Juice.

Here are some of the food:

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Pinnakuffu is made up of an upland rice variety of malagkit. It tasted like Carioca. According to one of the locals who was present at Dir. Diwa’s house, the Pinnakuffu is best eaten with Sinanta.
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Sinanta is a noodle soup which tastes like your ordinary sotanghon. Another food worth noting is the NANA (pronounced as na-na stress on the second A), which looks like Sinukmani/Biko at first glance.
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Nana is made of special small grains or millet (fine variety). Some varieties of millet are used as feeds of lovebirds. Of course, the ingredient used was not that variety. :) Nana is sweet just like the Sinukmani but is softer and more chewy.

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After stuffing ourselves, the Lakbay Norte Media group passed by five Churches on our way to Ilocos Norte.

Our first stop was the Saint James Church in Cavalry Hills in Iguig, Cagayan Valley. When I entered the church, I just made the sign of the cross and went into its backyard. It was like traveling back in time with the life-sized 14 Stations of the Way of the Cross statues strategically placed on the rolling hills.

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The second church that we’ve visited is considered the biggest and widest brick church in the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao –the Saint Philomene Church in Alcala, Cagayan, which was built in 1898.
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From Alcala, we proceeded to Camalaniugan, Cagayan, where the San Jacinto de Polonia Parish Church is. But the bell tower beside the chuch caught my attention. It was forged in 1595 and claimed to be the oldest Catholic Bell in Southeast Asia.

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In Lal-lo, Cagayan, we were warmly welcomed by the mayor and her constituents. It seemed like half of the town was there. Students danced to the beat of the drums. The mayor told us that the Lallo Church was the original home of Our Lady of Piat before it was transferred to the Basilica Minore.
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The last Church that we’ve visited was the Church of Masi in Pamplona, Cagayan. Masi used to be the name of Pamplona. The construction of the church was said to be completed in 1617.
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The Cagayanons never fail to amaze me with their brand of Filipino Hospitality as they served us with sticky rice delicacies such as the Tinubong and the Suman sa Lihiya matched with the chocolatey cocoa drink.

Suman sa Lihiya was not new to me since my Lola makes this kind of sticky rice during All Saints’ Day. The tinubong caught my curiosity as it was cooked inside a bamboo with grated coconut.
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Suman sa Lihiya

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Tinubong

Even if it’s far, Cagayan Valley is worth visiting. It was my first time to visit this side of the region and I know it won’t be the last time. The warm and friendly people made the trip worthwhile.

It is a place where you can find century-old churches. It is a place where you can eat different types of sticky rice or Suman.

As Dir. Bless Diwa puts it:“Dito sa Cagayan, mahilig kami sa mga malalagkit na pagkain kasi malagkit din kaming magmahal.”

And the DoT Region II tagline sums it up:
“Cagayan is where adventure never ends.”