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[TRAVEL] 12 Beautiful Churches in Manila for Visita Iglesia & Translacion Holy Week Philippines 2017

4/16/2017 01:53:00 AM Ice Goddhez Blog 40 Comments

The Philippines is very rich in culture and tradition, and one of the reasons why is because of the many different countries that tried to make us as their colony in the past. There was for a time, the Chinese barter trade, the Japanese colonial plot, the American regime, among others ... the longest of which is the Spanish era where we mostly inherited our language (i.e. most Spanish terms have been embedded in the Filipino language, ex. "lamesa" for "the table"), dressing, beliefs, religion, and many others that have been passed on to us from generation to generation. Aside from the beautiful natural wonders and magnificent beaches that our country has, one of the things we can say we take pride upon is the centuries-old set of churches we have across the country. Each of which is rich in history. And we need not look farther as we have quite a number already here in the city, Metro Manila.

Manila Cathedral at Night - Chai Chen 2017

For millions of us in the Catholic faith, the Lenten Season won't be complete without the traditional Visita Iglesia that is primarily set to happen on a Maundy Thursday. It's an annual tradition for me and my family to go and visit at least 14 Churches for Visita Iglesia but in the recent years, since my parents are already old, they weren't able to join in the long walks anymore. Last year, it was only my dad and my sister who did it and this year, I did it solo. On a Good Friday, we normally light up candles for a traditional procession in our parish church. Let me take you down history lane and share this common practice, that can be enjoyed in this post despite religious affiliations and beliefs that we all have! Let's appreciate the beauty and history of these beautiful churches that I've compiled and maybe, you too can take this route every Holy Week. Click after the cut to read more ...


Visita Iglesia has been a vow and penitence for me; an act of penance and my form of sacrifice for my atonement ... for prayers that are yet to be answered ... and my thanksgiving for my prayers that have been answered already. I continue to pray to bless me more so I can bless more. While I dunno how long I can last in doing this, I believe I will try to do so while I'm still physically able. This year, while I went solo, I tried to take similar routes that we had before. It's actually easier for me now since I drive with my own car. Before, my parents normally take us as kids riding jeepneys and tricycles and far more longer walks than usual. It's indeed more convenient now given the technology that we all have and the improved road routes.

University of Santo Tomas - UST Main Building 
My alma mater! With the growling tiger!

I was able to visit only 12 Churches for Visita Iglesia 2017. I passed by two (2) other churches but couldn't park anymore and was already exhausted so I guess that's ok. My first stop was beloved university's church - and nope, it's not the one in this photo. Most people get mistaken that this is the church since there's a huge cross on top of it. But this is actually the main building of our school where a few college of sciences are located.

[1] Santísimo Rosario Parish Church
University of Santo Tomas

The church is still farther that way and I must say I apologize for not taking photos inside the church. I got so busy recording my snaps for my Instagram Stories and I forgot to take photos of the church. It's actually called (1) Santissimo Rosario Parish Church. I also went to confession there since it's my first stop. I had the liberty to be one of the firsts when a new priest came in. I guess it was a blessing in disguise and I was called for it.

Me and my selfie with the UST Growling Tiget

The Chapel was among the earliest edifices in the Campus of the University of Santo Tomas. It was completed on November 13, 1932. Since then, this chapel became the venue of the official and religious functions of the University. When the parish was established in 1942, this chapel likewise became the center of the liturgico-sacramental life of the parishioners. Read more about this beautiful church here - Santissimo Rosario Parish (UST Article). We started visiting this church only when I was already a student here. It wasn't part of our routes before but I really wanted this to be part of our devotion since then.

[2] San Roque de Manila Parish
Blumentritt Church

This church is an old church as well that have undergone multiple renovations. Right now, the main church is located at the 2nd floor of the building while beneath it, the 1st floor serves as a parking space. It isn't ideal for any church but given that the place gets heavily flooded too during rainy seasons, it may be a practical choice.

It's located in the busy streets of Blumentritt, Manila where we used to go to church every weekend, as a kid. It was nearer our house before since we lived in Tondo, Manila. It was just one (1) tricycle ride. But when my family moved to our new place, this was already a bit far. I still have a strong inclination to this church so I made sure I still visit here when time permits. It's jut not as easy since to be honest, the place is a bit notorious. Parking is also a challenge so I did not stay that long. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take beautiful photos inside but I had some snaps of it in my Instagram Stories which I was able to compile in the video below.

[3] Archdiocesan Shrine of Espiritu Santo
Espiritu Santo Parish Church

Espiritu Santo Parish, now known as the Archdiocesan Shrine and Parish of Espiritu Santo, is a Roman Catholic parish belonging to the Archdiocese of Manila that is located along Tayuman Street corner Rizal Avenue, Santa Cruz, Manila. I was able to witness it live when this was declared as the Archdiocesan Shrine. It was granted in the dedication held at its 88th fiesta anniversary last 2014 and it the Mass was officiated by Cardinal Tagle.

Archdiocesan Shrine and Parish of Espiritu Santo 
Interiors of the Church

I used to study here as well - at the school just right beside it. This is where I went to in my gradeschool and highschool years. The church is really part of my formative years. I had my 1st Confession among many other milestones in my life in this church. So I definitely make sure that this is part of my routine. Aside from the solemnity you'll feel inside, you will really appreciate the art inside and seeing the beautiful religious images (captured in my video).

Espiritu Santo Parish - External
Votive Candles Sanctuary

Outside the church is a small "sanctuary" as I can call it. It's a peaceful play to say a few prayers and this time, I've lit up five (5) votive candles with different colors, for different intentions.

Espiritu Santo Parish - Exteriors
Votive Candles - Small Pond
The votive candles can also be placed on their own "small pond" but I preferred to let my five stand on their own on the other area. This one needs cleaning I guess.

[4] Santa Cruz Church
Plaza Sta. Cruz, Manila (Carriedo, Manila)

Santa Cruz Church is a Baroque church located in Plaza Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz district, Manila, Philippines. It was built when the arrabal (suburb) of Santa Cruz was established by the Jesuits in the early 17th century. I am in awe as to how they maintain the starry-starry night look and feel inside the church. When I was little, I would normally insist that we go to church here because of that view. Plus, whenever we go here, it's always meaning that dad will treat us out for lunch in one of the restaurants there so I definitely cherish those memories. It's always a fine family Sunday for us.

Inside the Santa Cruz Church - the Altar

The stones and classy interiors are also beautifully replicated outside with its baroque facade. I really love old baroque style churches and feel the rich history behind them. Well, I may not know everything but I feel it. Haha!

Baroque Style Exterior of Santa Cruz Church
with its domed belfry

[5] Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene
Quiapo Church 

The Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (canonically known as Saint John the Baptist Parish and colloquially known as Quiapo Church; is a prominent Roman Catholic Latin-rite basilica located in the District of Quiapo in the City of Manila, Philippines. The basilica is famous home for the shrine of the Black Nazarene, a dark statue of Jesus Christ many claim to be miraculous. The parish is under the Archdiocese of Manila. My mom has been a devotee of the Black Nazarene for the longest time. I must say my mom's faith is so unwavering that even when she can barely walk now at her old age, she tries to come here every now and then.

Inside the Quiapo Church with a High Altar for the Black Nazarene
that is enshrined above it, believed to be very miraculous

It was also built in the baroque style with the facade having distinctive twisted columns. With the recent renovations however, only the face and the dome and transept has been retained from its classic design, as described. I couldn't take photos from outside as it's highly risky given the number of robberies and pick-pocketing reported in this area. All citizens, tourists and locals, are always warned of it. So I just simply took a photo inside at the far end, where no one was actually near me that can grab my phone. Even during the Lenten Season, it's better to be safe than sorry.

The devotion to the Black Nazarene and a little more history of it is discussed in my Good Friday video - which is also available below.

[6] Binondo Church
Binondo | Ongpin | Chinatown Manila

Binondo Church, also known as Minor Basilica of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish, is located in the District of Binondo, Manila fronting Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz, in the Philippines. This church was founded by Dominican priests in 1596 to serve their Chinese converts to Christianity. The original building was said to have been destroyed in 1762 by British bombardment. A new granite church was completed on the same site in 1852 however it was greatly damaged during the Second World War, with only the western facade and the octagonal belfry surviving.

The altar of the church is loosely based from the St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican

I also wasn't able to take photos outside the church anymore. It started getting dark and there were more and more folks going in and out so I took it to safety. While the place is highly secured - there were a lot of police officers stationed all around the area (given that it's also highly protected by the Chinese community), I did not go looking for alternative places to shoot anymore. I still had lots of churches to go to. Plus, I still shopped at Eng Bee Tin which is world-famous for their hopia. I will write about that separately.

Ceiling of Binondo Church with all the paintings

Binondo Church is said to have been reconstructed many times due to natural calamities and only the Bell Tower is what remained of the original 16th century structure, it has retained the classic architecture that makes the place a wondrous sight for the most unforgettable occasion! The ceiling and the wonderful paintings up there is indeed a sight to behold.

[7] Manila Cathedral
Intramuros, Manila

The Minor Basilica and Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is a Roman Catholic basilica located in Manila, Philippines, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, the Principal Patroness of the Philippines. The cathedral serves as the Episcopal See of the Archbishop of Manila. It is situated inside yet another historical and rich in culture location within Metro Manila - Intramuros, the "Walled City."

MANILA CATHEDRAL TRIVIA: Note the octagonal, pagoda-like belfry,
showing the influence of Chinese artisans on Filipino ecclesiastical architecture of the time.

The cathedral have undergone some major renovations too. Of course, old churches do go thru this phase. This one though has been in the news given how popular this church is. This was closed for a time due to earthquake damages and reopened only some time in 2014. It is the most common sought-after church for weddings. I also dream of getting married here. They said that you must reserve years in advance actually since mostly, the dates have been booked that long. Well, I guess I still have more years to try to wait for my loyal groom haha!

Interiors of Manila Cathedral with Central Nave and Vaulted Ceiling 
Ongoing Mass for Maundy Thursday - officiated by Cardinal Tagle

That time I came in, there was already an ongoing Mass and there were tons of people. I did not get to stay for the Mass anymore. I did think of completing a whole run though since it was officiated by Cardinal Tagle but yeah, I must stick to my plan first and that was to complete my route for my Visita Iglesia churches. That was my goal.

Inscription on the Tympanum of the Main Door
Manila Cathedral

I stayed around for a while to appreciate the beauty that is outside the church. Just by looking at it, it's so majestic! The tympanum above the central northwest doors bears the Latin inscription Tibi cordi tuo immaculato concredimus nos ac consecramus, which in English translates to: "To your Immaculate Heart we are entrusted for safekeeping and consecrated" as described in the article reference. Just being under it, I was in awe!

Kalesas inside Intramuros

Of course, there are many kalesas (horse carriages) outside and we'll see more of it around Intramuros. This was a popular means of transportation during the Spanish era and was kept alive within the Walled City, preserving culture and tradition of the area. It's a fun ride actually and one day, I guess I'll ride this again.

[8] Nuestra Señora de Guia Parish Church
Ermita Shrine

The Ermita Church, also formally known as the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Guidance, is a Roman Catholic church located in the district of Ermita in the City of Manila. The church is home to the Marian image of Our Lady of Guidance, (Nuestra Señora de Guia), which is considered to be the oldest Marian image in the Philippines, and in whose honor the church is officially named after and dedicated to.

Nuestra Senora de Guia Parish Church
Ermita Shrine Facade

We visit this church every now and then only. I think, if I'm not mistaken, it's not always part of our Visita Iglesia since before, we were visiting more churches in the North (i.e. Quezon City area, Tondo, Caloocan, etc.) since we lived nearer. This one is a bit far from us but I do recall we still go here when time permits.

Ermita Shrine Interiors

The well-lit interiors and the high ceiling gives it more of a peaceful feel inside the church as well. I actually lingered a little bit more inside. There wasn't that much crowd since the Stations of the Cross were also separated. They were located outside the church so only those who were quietly praying stayed inside. As a kid, we used to do the Stations as well on the first church we visit and on the last church. This time around, I wasn't able to do it. It was really challenging to find parking and travelling here and there. But I did say I will try again to pray it on my next visits.

Ermita Shrine Interiors - Paintings on the Ceiling

One thing I also appreciate in this church is the ceiling where I can see paintings depicting the Stations of the Cross as well. I believe this was the old one with just 12 stations and not the 14; hence the need to have a separate one outside the church.

[9] Our Lady of Remedies Parish
Malate Church

Malate Church (formally known as Our Lady of Remedies Parish Church or "Malate Catholic Church") is a church in Manila, Philippines. It is a Baroque-style church fronted by Plaza Rajah Sulayman and, ultimately, Manila Bay. The church is dedicated to Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, the patroness of childbirth. A revered statue of the Virgin Mary in her role as Our Lady of Remedies was brought from Spain in 1624 and stands at the altar.

Nuestra Senora de Remedios Parish Church Malate Church
This is also the narrowest space inside the church that I've been to (including the other churches I've visited before but I've not included in this 2017 route). Still, the baroque style inside and outside is something to appreciate about. I wasn't able to take a photo as well outside anymore but it has that old feel with stones piled up that you can view on its exteriors. The facade will give you the chills that it's old, really.

[10] Shrine of Jesus the Way
Mall of Asia Church

This church is a new addition to my route. It's easily accessible as I frequent the Mall of Asia area anyway but I don't always go here for Mass. It's also known as the Mall of Asia Church for obvious reasons but it was only recently that I knew its actual name - Archdiocesan Shrine of Jesus the Way, The Truth, and the Life.

MOA Church with the Blue Cross

It's not one of those churches that have very rich history and culture as it stands along the area of Mall of Asia (MOA) Seaside Boulevard, which is actually a reclaimed area. It was only a few years ago, a decade or so, when the site was established. Still, I must say it's a convenient way for mall and churchgoers alike given that this is situated just beside the SMX Convention Center area. It does appease the shopping public as there's no way they can escape church time as its so near.

MOA Church Interiors

It was dark inside so this photo's quality is a bit bad for viewing but I still captured it anyway. The spacious interiors actually gave me more time to reflect and pray my different intentions throughout the journey, that I've forgotten to mumble in my other visits. Plus, I didn't have to worry about my car being parked outside since there are also lots of security guards, traffic enforcers, and police officials deployed in the area. The vicinity indeed adapted to the changing needs of our society.

[11] Redemptorish Church
Baclaran Church

The National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help also known as Redemptorist Church and colloquially the Baclaran Church, is a prominent Catholic National shrine along Roxas Boulevard in Baclaran, Parañaque, a city in the southern part of Metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines. It is highly popular to devotees who flock the church every Wednesday; which also includes popular celebrities in the country. Wednesday is also now dubbed as Baclaran Day given the many pilgrims who visit the church.

Neo-Romanesque Facade of the Baclaran Church

While the place is also known to be notorious, I took the chance of capturing this very quickly. Lots of folks tried to capture the external beauty of it too though it was a bit too dark this time. Last year as I recall, it was brighter. The security officials were scarce in the area and there were lots of onlookers and standby folks so I was also wary. After this and a few snaps (while always looking around), I already put my phone to safety. It's quite a paranoid act, I know. But again, better be safe.

White Candles - Baclaran Church

I wasn't able to take a photo inside the church anymore. It was also a bit dark. I just stayed for a while at the side instead where we can say more prayers and light up white candles. These little candles were available to be lighted up all around. All we needed to do was pick one. You need not buy them. Just pick one and light up. There are donation boxes and coin slots around where we can drop our payment of sorts. It was another calming experience, I must say.

[12] San Miguel Church
Malacanang Palace Area

The Regal Parish and National Shrine of Saint Michael and the Archangels, also known as San Miguel Church, is a Catholic church of the Latin Rite dedicated to the seven archangels, namely, Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel, Saint Raphael, Saint Uriel, Saint Selatiel, Saint Jhudiel, and Saint Barachiel. Its present location is on the corner of Jose Laurel Street and General Solano Street, in San Miguel, Manila, the former original site of La Fábrica de Cerveza de San Miguel (now San Miguel Brewery). It is also known as Malacañang Church due to its proximity to Malacañang Palace.

San Miguel Church

Given that my family is also a fan of the San Miguel Beermen (a team in the local basketball league - PBA or Philippine Basketball Association); this was also were I received the Sacrament of Confirmation together with my younger sister. Our godparents were also inclusive of the "Beermen" cagers back then who were very close friends of my aunts. My godfather was Allan Caidic and my sister's was Avelino "Samboy" Lim.

San Miguel Church Retablo of the Seven Archangels

The church is popular to quite a few parishioners who come from the old-rich families. It is also known to be the only church where its priests are allowed to administer Confirmation twice a week. Inside, you can see the altar area with the Retablo Showing the Status of the Seven Archangels.

I was able to pass by two (2) more churches after this - San Sebastian and the Our Lady of Loreto; but I did not get a chance to find a secure parking space and it was already getting too late. Actually, more and more peeps were flocking the churches - probably they started late to avoid the heat. So I was only able to complete Twelve (12) Churches for Visita Iglesia. Still, I feel accomplished. Here's my compiled video snaps for the day that were documented also via my Instagram Stories.

As I finished my snaps, I realized, I could've just taken full shots of video clips instead of just doing it via Insta Stories so I could've gotten a better view of the churches and all the impressive and intricate designs. Oh well! Maybe next year! For now, hope it's ok with you guys that I just did this Insta-Stories version.

Now on to my Good Friday tradition ... We normally do a Good Friday Procession.

What we normally do is attend processions even when we were younger before; at a different parish church. When mom was stronger, we'd normally finish the entire route. As she went older, we often stop at a certain point and rest up. It was only a few years back when mom couldn't walk that far anymore and so me and my sis are the ones continuing up the tradition. It's not because we just wanted to continue per se but because, we do believe in the blessings thereafter.

Good Friday Procession - Devotees Preparation Site

In our previous parish, we start off early in the afternoon to line up and queue at a certain religious image. I remember we often go at the far end where the Libing ni Hesus (i.e. the funeral of Christ) is situated and then we'll light up our candles there. There are prayer vigils ongoing, along with singing religious songs along the way. There are commentators leading the prayers as well either via loud voices or using a megaphone. Each of the stations or replica images have their own way and prayers. It was only this recently, like two (2) years ago when we moved to our new place and we had to find a new parish to attend to for our Holy Week traditions and this one is the nearest. Plus, it was something new for us - the Black Nazarene Translacion which was originally from Quiapo Church.

Procession Lighting Good Friday - Black Nazarene Translacion 2017

Every January 9, the Traslación of the Black Nazarene (commemorating the "solemn transfer" of the image's copy from San Nicolas de Tolentino in Intramuros to Quiapo) makes its way along the streets of Quiapo, with attendees reaching up to 12 million. My mom used to be a devotee here as I mentioned also but now, she can't walk that far due to old age so she just tries to drop by every now and then. We don't really go to the Jan 9 Translacion because that one is massive. I don't think we can last there, health-wise. Anyway, since we've just recently experienced the Good Friday version of this, me and my sis took a few snaps as well along the way. I compiled the videos here in my Facebook Page.

In recent years, a persistent misconception has the Traslación being repeatedly referred to as mostly the "Feast of the Black Nazarene" (Pyesta ng Itim na Nazareno), and sometimes the "Feast of Quiapo" (Pyesta ng Quiapo), which are far from correct as the article's reference says: the Black Nazarene's "feast day" is the commemoration of Good Friday (which is one of the days when the image is processed and which me and my sis are attending now); the diocese of Quiapo's actual feast day is June 24 (concurrent with Manila Day), the feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist, who is Quiapo Church's actual patron (not the Black Nazarene). I've discussed more of the details in this video.

So there! Hopefully you learned something new from me as well and our tradition. What do you guys normally do during Holy Week? How did you guys spend your Holy Week? And to my other friends who don't practice the same faith, of course we respect each other and I just hope I was able to share with y'all at least, what the culture and tradition is here, as well as what you guys can see to tour or travel around in the Philippines, should you be interested in such structures and architecture. Have a blessed week to all and Happy Easter!

Check out tags for similar posts:
  • #DMTravelSeries
  • #DiscoverMNL | Discover Manila 
  • When in Manila
  • Holy Week 2017
  • Holy Week Traditions in the Philippines 
  • Maundy Thursday 2017 
  • Holy Thursday Visita Iglesia 2017 
  • Good Friday 2017 
  • Good Friday Procession 
  • Black Nazarene Translacion 2017

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  1. I've only experienced Visita Iglesia once in my whole life but it was fun and meaningful.

    The Philippines has really a number of beautiful churches.

    Happy Easter!

  2. Oh wow, it looks amazing! *.*
    Happy Easter my dear :)

    1. Thanks babe! Thanks for visiting me back! Enjoy!

  3. Great photos dear!

  4. Wonderful photos!

    Do you wanna follow each other via GFC or Bloglovin? Lemme know ♥
    * Le blog de la Licorne *

  5. Lovely post!<3 Love art and architecture my dear:)

  6. Nice post, beautiful tradition &culture! thks for sharing

  7. Churches in the Philippines are so beautiful they are like a book of the past that has so many stories to tell. I love the churches in Bohol though because their ceiling is not any ordinary ceiling it has paints and the drawings is like there's a story behind. Love your Post.

    1. Thanks for appreciating, dear! Thanks also for visiting :)

  8. Hello!! I love your blog !! your posts are really very interesting !! I wait in my blog, I have just published a post dedicated to the beauty of our hair. I wait for you

  9. These churches are beautiful. Thank you for letting us know a bit more about them. I hope to visit Philippines some day.

    1. Thanks Ivana! Really appreciate your nice words.

  10. Wonderful post, love it! ♥
    Maybe follow for follow? :)

    1. Sure dear! Let's follow each other. Will visit your blog Veronica :)

  11. Replies
    1. Thanks for visiting me back again dear Ashley! Really appreciate it!

  12. Ang ganda talaga ng mga churches sa Philippines! I also went to UST Church this year. Actually, we always do every year. :) I hope you had a blessed and meaningful Holy Week! :)

    xoxo, rae

    1. Sobrang blessed! Hope you had a meaningful one as well :)

  13. P.S. in reply to your comment on my blog post: Hi Chai! It's narrow nga. But most establishments in Maginhawa naman are narrow. Cafe Mithi has an AC but it was really hot when we got there.. sa may loft, hapon kasi kaya kami tinapatan ng electric fan! haha. But the temperature cools down around 5pm, the usual PH scenario. haha! Pero visit mo sila, masaya naman experience! :)

    1. Hahah try ko pa rin dun sa ibang shops around. I wanna pig out. LOL :)

  14. Amazing blog post and great photos.
    I am glad you enjoyed reading my recent post and thank you for the comments!!

    1. Thank you dear for coming back! Following you now on GFC dear Harija!

  15. that's so so true! I'm loving your vacation spot! Love to travel there soon too! Enjoy yourself sweetie!

    XOXO // Check out my latest post if you like ;)
    SINCERELY OPHELIA | TREND ALERT: Off the Shoulder Tops Galore

  16. Absolutely wanna make me visit a great church. Great post dear.

  17. Replies
    1. Wow thanks for sharing also, Josa! And thanks for visiting :)

  18. So many beautiful churches:) i loved the colored candles! amazing:)

    1. Thanks for visiting me back again my dear Evre :)

  19. Chai - you need to visit most amazing church in the world that I have been to.

  20. Thanks for sharing! I would like share this churches in manila for wedding, some of the churches on your list are here too :)


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