Saturday, June 17, 2017

I'm back

A week ago, we returned from our two week vacay in the land of dimsum and dumplings. 

Those 2 weeks were filled with days of really hot and humid weather. I probably lost my equivalent in weight of sweat just by walking to the nearest convenience store to buy bread. 

The humidity was the toughest one to bear as not only did it make you sweat buckets but it also was difficult to breathe, sometimes. 

I was most worried about my mom as she has weak lungs and can be breathless in just a few minutes. But she was a trooper and at 80 years young I am amazed by her tenacity and her determination.

Well her milestone birthday was the reason we were there and my very generous sister made sure we had a glorious food fest. We ate at most of our regular restaurants as well as tried new ones. It was delicious, we all had a great time and truly cherished the momentous occasion. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day 2017

Today is the day we celebrate our mothers. The one person who will always have your back no matter how old, good or bad you are and will love you unconditionally.  I get really emotional when it comes to my mom who is turning 80 this month, she is getting forgetful and it breaks my soft heart when I notice the visible signs of aging.  We treated her to a mother's day lunch @ Casa Roces in Manila. It was just a small buffet spread but it was good and we liked the ambiance of the place.






It is located within the Malacanang Palace grounds so we visited the two churches in the vicinity. Yes I know we do visit a lot of churches hehe
The San Miguel Church is dedicated to the 7 archangels.





A few blocks away is the National Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus. Both churches were familiar as they were part of our itinerary during the 1980s Visita Iglesia days.






Thursday, May 11, 2017

Visita Iglesia 2017 (Part 2)

I have been meaning to finish this part 2 for days now. But this blazing summer heat is brutal. Temperatures soaring to over 36 degrees Celsius which means the heat index (or what it really feels like) is 41 degrees Celsius. Early evenings there would be localized thunderstorms, heavy downpours with thunder and lightning to boot, Then humidity would set in and phew the perspiration would soak your entire body, you'd think I danced in the rain. No siree it's sweat not precipitation! 

But what else can I do?  Tune it out, block it off and learn to grin and bear it as beads of sweat pour down my back and form on my forehead. Eat ice cream to cool down my body temperature and my scrambled brain cells.  

Ok on to the main topic of this post.

It was already lunch time so we decided to eat first before proceeding to the next church. We were now at the Remedios circle which is surrounded by several restaurants. We found a suitable parking slot a few meters away from the eateries and waited for a few minutes at Max's (all the restos in the area were filled to the rafters with other hungry visita iglesia churchgoers). The sun was scorching hot so it felt really nice as we were seated in the air conditioned restaurant to savor our 'sarap to the bones' chicken meals.

The Malate Church which is dedicated to the Nuestra Senora de los Remedios (Our Lady of Remedies) was just a few steps away so we headed there after lunch. The last time I laid foot in this really old church (built in 1588) was in the 1980s when I was still in high school. It was a regular stop on our Visita Iglesia list. Decades ago when my father could still drive at night and the streets of Metro Manila were not as traffic jammed as they are nowadays. 

Main altar of the Malate Church

Slats of stained glass

Adoration chapel



Baroque style Malate Church
A short drive along Roxas Boulevard would take you to the Baclaran Church. The National Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help has a special place in my heart as my mother and I would go there during Wednesdays for the Perpetual Help Novena + Holy Mass. Well decades ago when it was much easier to go around using public transport, less crowded and generally safer. Times are different now. 

When we got to the Baclaran area, there were a lot of cars and a traffic jam had formed before you could even catch a glimpse of the church. So we parked at the first available slot and walked, walked, walked and walked some more. Phew it was far and the heat was pricking at your skin even if you used an umbrella. By the time we reached the church I was all sweaty and needed a cool drink to freshen up, the pews inside were full so we stood near the entrance where a very light breeze would sometimes ease the stifling heat.

Main altar of the Redemptorist church

Baclaran Church
It was time to proceed to the last two churches on our list. We decided to park at this vacant lot near the Manila Cathedral then walk over to the San Agustin Church on the famed cobblestone path linking both churches. The San Agustin Church is the oldest stone church in the Philippines and its elaborate interior design is a magnificent sight to behold. It was named as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993.

The pulpit

Main altar

beautiful ceiling

intricate chandelier

Baroque style architecture

Stone facade of San Agustin Church
A few years ago, the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception or the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros was painstakingly restored. It was closed to the public for two long years as they renovated it from top to bottom. The basic structure is still the same but I notice the interiors are much brighter and more airy now. It still retains its solemnity and its certain peaceful vibe when one is inside the Manila Cathedral.

Main altar

the crucified Christ

Manila Cathedral
Manila Cathedral from another angle
This year, we visited 8 churches. Well 9 if we include the San Nicholas de Tolentino church in Quezon City where we heard mass. I was really tired from the Visita Iglesia, I forgot to take pictures and just wanted to go home and take a refreshing shower. I am glad though as this is our second year to continue this tradition, together. Unfortunately, my parents cannot join us as they get tired easily but they are glad D and I now maintain this annual Holy Week tradition.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Visita Iglesia 2017 (Part 1)

This year Maundy Thursday was last April 13, 2017.  Time for the annual visit to churches to reflect on the 14 Stations of the Cross.  This year, D suggested we start early so we could go to several churches before we attend the 5 P.M (the washing of the feet) mass.

The traditionalist in me was hesitant for the sole reason that the visit should be after the Holy Eucharist has been transferred to the adoration chapels for the vigil which usually occurs between the hours of 7 P.M to midnight. But I adhered so we shove off at around 9 o'clock that very sunny morning.

Our first stop was the Santo Domingo Church. D is quite familiar with this place of worship because it is adjacent to Angelicum school where his niece studied her elementary levels several decades ago when she still lived with him.

Santo Domingo Church

Our Lady of La Naval, Sto. Domingo Church

Then it was time to head to my alma mater, The University of Santo Tomas and specifically the UST Chapel or the Santisimo Rosario Parish. Back in my college days, I was not a socially active student, I mean I didn't join any orgs, it was pretty routine for me to study then go home for the whole four years I was at UST. But it was nice to go back and show D around my alma mater although a lot has changed,  I notice there is much development and it made me proud to be a Thomasian.

Santisimo Rosario Parish, UST

Adoration Chapel

Outdoor Stations of the Cross


Main building, UST

Our 3rd church was the Basilica Menor de San Sebastian near Quiapo. It is famed for its Gothic Revival architecture and was completed in 1891. An imposing structure located deep within a bustling Manila district that is typically crowded with people, peddlers and pedicabs. A calming and serene sanctuary amidst the chaotic environs of our nation's capital.

Stained Glass 

antiquated pulpit


Main altar

Facade of San Sebastian

Stations of the Cross

I admit I'm not familiar navigating the streets in Manila but luckily D knows his way around so he took charge of mapping our itinerary. We were heading towards the Adriatico area when we passed by a nondescript church. It turns out it was the Ermita Church which is formally known as the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Guidance. The Parish Church of the Nuestra Senora de Guia is the home of the oldest Marian image in the Philippines. 

Ermita Church

Main altar

Adoration Chapel

Stations of the Cross

a small plaza in front of the Ermita Church with a
 Castrillo sculpture of Our Lady of Guidance



Entrance to Ermita Church