Visita Iglesia, an annual Catholic tradition of visiting 7 churches usually done on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday. A popular destination for this practice is the province of Laguna because it is home to several remarkable churches built during the Spanish Colonial era and is a short drive south of Metro Manila.
Here’s a quick guide to some of these historic landmarks:
If you’re coming from SLEX then your first stop is the Parish of St Bartholomew found in the town of Nagcarlan. The original church made of light materials was built in 1583 by Rev Tomas de Miranda. It was reconstructed using bricks & stone in 1752 but was partly destroyed by a fire in 1781.
A side trip in Nagcarlan is the Underground Cemetery which was built in 1845. Its circular wall are tombs for the locals while the crypt under the chapel was used for the burial of Spanish friars and prominent Catholic families.
Nagcarlan is roughly an 80 km drive from the Magellanes Interchange in Makati. Drive south on SLEX and take the Calamba exit. Follow the National Road to Pagsanjan. When you reach Victoria, turn right on the fork with the giant ducks. Drive about 2.5 km then make a sharp left on the Calauan-Nagcarlan Road and drive on the winding road for another 15 km until you reach the town of Nagcarlan. Estimated drive time is 1.5 hrs.
Saint John the Baptist Parish Church, or Liliw Church, was founded in 1605. The church is known for its red-bricked facade and baroque style architecture.
Liliw is a 4 km drive from Nagcarlan. The church compound offers parking space with a P20 parking fee.
About five kilometers east of Lilw is the Church of St Gregory the Great in Majayjay. This church is considered one of the oldest Roman Catholic churches in the Philippines. It was first built of nipa & bamboo in 1575 through forced-labor, and just like other churches in the era, it was rebuilt several times after sustaining damage from arson.
To get to Majayjay from Liliw, simply drive about 5 km east on the Liliw-Majayjay Road.
St. Mary Magdalene Parish Church built in 1851 is located in the center of the town of Magdalena, across its town hall. In 1898, revolutionary hero Emilio Jacinto sought refuge here after being wounded in a battle with the Spaniards at the Maimpis River.
The St. Peter of Alcantara Parish Church in Pakil was founded in 1676. It is one of the best preserved churches in Laguna.
Pakil church is also popular because it is home to the Nuestra Senora de los Dolores de Turumba, a painting found by fishermen on the lake. Locals believe that the painting, and the church are miraculous because they survived through several calamities, including war.
Nuestra Señora de la Natividad Parish Church was founded in 1579. The church is home to the Virgen de La O, statue of the pregnant Virgin Mary which is said to be a gift from King Carlos III of Spain.
Driving During Holy Week
- Traffic can get congested near churches so don’t expect to be able to park near the church.
- Wear comfortable and appropriate clothing for church.
- Bring plenty of snacks & drinks.
- Eating places are usually open in bigger towns & cities.
- Bring trash bags & take your trash back home for proper disposal.
Thanks to Chevrolet Philippines for letting us use the Chevy Colorado & Spark for this blog.