Metro Manila's Catholics can explore the historic churches of Laguna for the traditional Visita Iglesia for a much-needed spirtual respite from the pandemic that's not as painful in terms of fuel costs because they're just a couple of hours away by car.
Visiting at least seven churches for Visita Iglesia during Holy Week is among the many Lenten traditions seeing a revival after two years of strict lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Laguna is home to nearly over a hundred churches including historical ones that date all the way back to the 1500s which makes the province an ideal destination for Visita Iglesia, especially for those who are looking for a relaxing drive away from the hustle and bustle of the metro.
MORE ON LENT:
Here are seven churches you can visit in the province of Laguna for Visita Iglesia:
1. Sto. Niño de Cebu Parish, Biñan City
One of the nearest spots in Laguna from Metro Manila, Biñan City is only a 45-minute drive away (traffic permitting), making it an ideal first stop for a Visita Iglesia.
Built in the 1980s by Augustinian friars, the Sto. Niño de Cebu Parish was initially a chapel for the local community of Barangay San Francisco in Biñan City.
It was only in 2003 when the present design of the church altar was constructed. In the years that followed, the church was renovated to include two belfries and a patio.
2. St. Paul the First Hermit Cathedral, San Pablo City
The see of the Bishop of the Diocese of San Pablo, the St. Paul the First Hermit Cathedral is around an hour and 30-minute drive from Biñan City.
Commonly known as the San Pablo Cathedral, the church was initially a wooden chapel constructed in 1586. It was only in the 1700s that the current foundation of the church was built.
The church was elevated to a cathedral in 1967 with the establishment of the Diocese of San Pablo. The cathedral's facade was restored to its original design in 2015, removing the additions during the American colonization.
3. San Bartolome Apostol Parish Church, Nagcarlan town
The baroque San Bartolome Apostol Parish church in the town of Nagcarlan is only a 35-minute drive from San Pablo City.
For those who grew up watching Filipino movies and teleseryes, the church can easily be recognized from the 2005 ABS-CBN series "Kampanerang Kuba" which starred Anne Curtis, and the original 1974 film of the same title which starred now Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto.
The San Bartolome Apostol Parish church was first built with nipa and wood in 1583 and was rebuilt with adobe in 1845 along with the construction of the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery.
4. Saint John the Baptist Church, Liliw town
Only a 10-minute drive from Nagcarlan, the Saint John de Baptist Church in the town of Liliw is known for the red bricks of its facade and baroque architecture style.
Commonly known as Liliw Church, it was initially built in the 1570s as an annex of Nagcarlan, back when Liliw was still part of the said town. Liliw became an independent parish in 1605.
The church was partially destroyed in the 1880 Luzon earthquake and was reconstructed in 1885. In 1898, the church was partially burned.
5. San Gregorio Magno Church, Majayjay town
Recognized as a National Cultural Treasure, the San Gregorio Magno Church or Saint Gregory the Great Parish Church is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines.
A 13-minute drive from Liliw, the church was founded in 1571 and was first made of nipa and bamboo.
The present design and structure of the church took almost two decades for the people of Majayjay to complete. In the 1700s, the church was the biggest in the country.
It also served as the headquarters of the U.S. Army during the American occupation of the Philippines.
Locally known as Majayjay church, the church features a romanesque architectural style.
6. San Sebastian Parish Church, Lumban town
An hour-long drive from the town of Majayjay is the San Sebastian Parish Church in the town of Lumban.
At the time of its construction in 1600, the San Sebastian Parish Church was the first stone church in Laguna and was then under the care of Franciscan missionaries.
Commonly known as Lumban Church, it has a belltower and a three-story facade.
7. Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Church, Pagsanjan town
The Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Church is the only Roman Catholic church in the town of Pagsanjan and is a mere eight-minute drive from Lumban.
A renaissance-style church, it is the oldest in the Philippines under the patronage of the Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The church was initially built in 1688 by locals of Pagsanjan using bamboo, nipa, and wood. Since then, the church has undergone several renovations and reconstructions after it was damaged during World War II.
It was declared the Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 2012.