Visita Iglesia is a traditional Catholic practice observed within the Holy Week. Devotees visit seven different churches (sometimes there’s a particular or no set of number as it depends on the faithful’s personal preference) on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday and recite the Stations of the Cross (Pasyon, in Filipino). In the Philippines, the observance of Visita Iglesia dates back during the Spanish colonization era.
The reasons for practicing Visita Iglesia can be different for every individual. It may be done for penance, sending petitions, or thanksgiving for fulfilled wishes.
Most Catholic churches in Pangasinan were built during Spanish colonization in the Philippines. Although these churches have undergone or currently undergoing renovations, these parishes see to it that the old structure is maintained. The old ‘feel’ when inside these churches makes these buildings remarkable.
1. St. Joseph the Patriarch Parish Church, Mapandan, Pangasinan
Mapandan Parish Church
St. Joseph the Patriarch Parish Church (or simply, Mapandan Parish Church) was said to be established as a parish in 1905. Although most of the building’s structure is new as it was built around 1980s, the original facade was still followed during the renovation. The church is well located within the town proper.
This was the first church we visited during our visita iglesia. As old folks say, if you’ve visited a church for the first time, make a wish. And so I did.
Mapandan Parish Church Interior and Altar
2. Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag, Manaoag, Pangasinan
Our Lady of Manaoag Church
The Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag is sometimes called by people as Manaoag Church, or as simple as Manaoag. Thousands visit the church all-year round as a pilgrimage site. The stature of Our Lady of Manaoag is believed to be miraculous. During the Second World War when the Japanese dropped several bombs that destroyed nearby structures. One of the bombs that fell which should have destroyed the ivory statue miraculously didn’t went off. Other miracles that happened are depicted by the murals inside the church.
The Beloved Face of Our Lady of Manaoag (up close)
Statues on church altars are covered in purple cloth from Good Friday until Easter Sunday. The photo shown was taken earlier and presented as reference.
I’ve been to Manaoag Church several times but I’m still looking forward and excited to my next visit.
3. St. Hyacinth Parish Church, San Jacinto, Pangasinan
St. Hyacinth Parish Church
St. Hyacinth Parish Church Interior and Altar
The original structure was heavily damaged during the terrible earthquake in March 1892. The church itself was rebuilt.
4. St. Thomas Aquinas Parish Church, Mangaldan, Pangasinan
Mangaldan Parish Church
Mangaldan Parish Church Interior and Altar
What fascinates me is the magnificent paintings of the Stations of the Cross.
5. St. John the Evangelist Cathedral, Dagupan City, Pangasinan
St. John’s Cathedral
St. John’s Cathedral Altar (image taken before the Holy Week)
The Metropolitan Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist is sometimes also called Dagupan Cathedral. It is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. The Archbishop’s House is located nearby as well as St. John’s Cathedral School that caters to elementary and high school students.
6. Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Church, Calasiao, Pangasinan
Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Church
Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Altar
Sts. Peter and Paul Church was founded in 1588 and its construction took place between the 17th and 19th century. Several natural calamities and man-made events caused damage to the building. Reconstruction and restoration have been done. Due to its age and excellent preservation, this baroque church was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
Christ the King
7. Holy Family Parish Church, Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan
Holy Family Parish Church
Holy Family Parish Interior and Altar
Holy Family Parish or Sta. Barbara Church was known to be built in 1716 making it one of the oldest churches in Pangasinan.
Another church I visited was the St. Dominic de Guzman Parish Church in San Carlos City, Pangasinan.
St. Dominic de Guzman Parish Church
St. Dominic de Guzman Parish Church or San Carlos Church was constructed around the 18th century and completed in 1773 in Binalatongan. The church has undergone destruction mostly by earthquakes and fire, which reconstruction and rehabilitation was done several times. The church resembles a Baroque architecture and made mostly of bricks which still can be seen today.
The town of Binalatongan was founded in 1578 and renamed as San Carlos in 1764. It was declared a city on the 1st of January, 1966.
St. Dominic de Guzman Parish Church Interior and Altar
Session Road in Bloom immediately follows after the float parade. It is when Session Road will be closed to vehicles and stalls are put up. This is a great opportunity for business owners all around the Philippines to showcase their local products and services.
The Market Encounter is in Burnham Park along Lake Drive. The only difference between Session Road in Bloom and Market Encounter is that the latter can take place earlier.
Only in the month of February when the three main roads within Baguio’s central business district are closed. Session Road in Bloom on Session Road, Market Encounter on Lake Drive, and one lane along Harrison Road for the Night Market. The Night Market in Harrison Road happens daily, which starts at 9:00 PM.
And where there are cars, there are these amazing, pretty ladies. We felt so lucky. Well, who won’t?
Photo credits to Paul for these images.
Photo credits to Ian for this image.
Later in the evening, the fireworks display concluded the Panagbenga Festival. I struggled to get a location with good vantage point. This is the make-the-most-of-what-I-have kind of shot.
Personally, I associate the Panagbenga Festival with beauty. Here are some shots during the 6th of March.
The float parade is one of the most awaited highlights of the Panagbenga Festival. It is usually held on the last Sunday of February before the Session Road in Bloom starts. Float designers use tons of flowers to decorate their float that attracts the attention of the crowd. Public or private entities can join to have an entry, which not only be used for their advertising but most especially to bring joy to the crowd.
Once again, I woke up at around 5:00 AM and went out at 6:00 AM. I was able to ride a jeepney. When I arrived downtown, this is what surprised me.
Now I’m too late to find a good spot now. Nobody is allowed to watch on the overpass. I thought this is the end for me. But as the parade goes near, people stayed on the overpass until nobody can’t go through anymore. Luckily, while I was walking along, I happened to get stuck in an area with a nice view of the parade.
Jeepito made a crowd appearance in Panagbenga 2016. This crowd favorite is arguably the smallest and cutest fully-operational jeepney. It is said that Jeepito originated in Baguio City and has been patented and registered by its owner. Jeepito can carry up to 4 passengers.
At last, the colorful and amazing flower floats came. In no particular order.
And with NLEX’s float participating in the parade, so as with some of PBA’s NLEX Road Warriors.
Here’s the float of Lower Dagsian. And who could be the one riding on it? Could it be…
…Yakon Man! That’s the name my co-spectators yelled. He got a loud cheer from the crowd.
Aside from the floats, there were also celebrities who joined the parade.
Manolo Pedrosa and Maris Racal, both former Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) housemates, joined Panagbenga 2016.
Real-life couple Jason Francisco and Melai Cantiveros-Francisco also joined the Panagbenga 2016 float parade.
And the much awaited personalities showed up. Here comes Coco Martin, Maja Salvador, Pepe Herrera, and Xymon “Onyok” Pineda.
Panagbenga is a month-long yearly festival held during February in Baguio City. The highlights of this festival is the Street Dancing Parade and the Floral Float Parade, which is usually done on the last Saturday and Sunday of the month. Panagbenga is concluded with Session in Bloom, a trade fair where businesses from all around the Philippines showcase their products and services.
Panagbenga means season of blooming where blossoming of flowers is believed to be at its peak in February. Flowers, apart from strawberries, brooms, peanut brittle, fruit jams, and the like, are one of the products Baguio City is well-known for. What was believed to have started as a thanksgiving for a bountiful flower harvest is now a grand celebration that attracts local and foreign tourists. But above all, Panagbenga helps to let the new generation, indigenous or alien, rediscover and appreciate Cordillera’s old traditions as well as the culture.
For many years, I’ve always stayed at home during these parade days. I don’t want to get caught in traffic or get trapped in the crowd. But this year, I braved being pushed (and to push when necessary) because I seriously need to watch the parades personally (even just once in my life, I’ve experienced watching it). And in the end, I found it all worth it.
So here I was, woke up at 5:00 AM to prepare myself and leave home by 6:00 AM. I could either jog or ride a cab going downtown. I was lucky to catch a ride. To my surprise, flocks of people are already gathered along the roadside. Now I think I’m too late to find a good spot and I need to look for a place that has a view. I was able to secure myself in an acceptable good spot but simply not the best as it doesn’t offer a good vantage point (especially without a telephoto lens).
Safety and security is one of Baguio City’s top priorities during this event.
More people flocked the sidewalks in anticipation for the parade.
And finally, the parade begins… no, wait!
At around 10:00 AM, the parade finally started (at least from where I was at).
Soon the street dancers arrived. Oh, my shots are only as good as my vantage point provides. Here are some of the shots that I got, in no particular order of the performers.
The melodies of drums and lyres from different groups of street dancers filled the air. All the participants performed graciously with their street dancing exhibitions. Despite the scorching heat, they managed to execute their routines very well.
And of course, the parade will never be complete without showcasing Cañao, the traditional and indigenous ceremonial dance of the Cordillerans.
Summer is far from over. If you are looking forward to experience the sun, sand, […]
One of the magnificent protected areas in Luzon, Minalungao National Park offers a lot of […]
Who wouldn’t be excited to explore the 5th longest cave system in the Philippines? This […]
One of the oldest churches in Pangasinan, St. James the Great Parish Church in Bolinao, […]
After our Santiago Island trip, we headed back to the mainland to visit Patar rock […]