Our pilgrimage to the Pahiyas festival also turned out to be a Visita Iglesia of sorts. We were able to visit at least four ancient churches! Ever since getting married in a 16th century church last January, I’ve been obsessed with their history and details. The Roman Catholic houses of worship in the Philippines may not be as grand as the ones in Europe but they’re still comparable in terms of historical value. They remain enduring symbols of Spain’s colonization of the Philippines, and some of them have housed revolutionaries fighting for Philippine Independence.
First on the agenda is the Lucban Church in Quezon, which is almost 400 years old. Said the inscription: ” The first church, built in 1595, was ruined in 1629. The second church was constructed between 1630 and 1640, but was seriously damaged by fire in 1733. The present church was completed in 1738 and the convent in 1743.”
The Liliw Church in Laguna is another thing of beauty, and dates back to the 1600s. It is notable for its orange-y brick color.
The church is the centerpiece of a town known for being the country’s premier slipper-makers. It is surrounded by a parking lot and a couple of pergolas or open-air quadrangles.
The Majayjay Church was massive as well. It was first built by Augustinian missionaries in the late part of the 1500s, and was destroyed by several fires. It has been reconstructed several times since then, and was even used by American forces during the Philippine-American War in 1912.
The Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery is the first and only one of its kind of the Philippines. The government, in fact, has declared it a National Historical site. It is a beautiful experience to visit this church-cum-cemetery because of its perfectly-manicured park and very clean surroundings. You’ll get carried away and forget there are tombs around you.
Nagcarlan is actually the newest of the churches, having been built only in 1845 by Franciscan missionaries. It was in the place where the leaders of Filipino revolutionaries hid during the war for Philippine Independence in 1896.