On Maundy Thursday, I found myself, for the first time, without my parents and siblings. So, I went to visit different churches with Daddy’s elder sister, Tita Ising, and her husband, Tito Sibing.
This was a big challenge for me because it’s my first time to drive to the Pasay area on my own. But the good thing is that it’s a holiday, so the roads were less congested than normal. I found it a bit easy to drive to several churches in the Manila area today.
Found along MH del Pilar St in Malate. With high ceilings, the church was bright and cheerful, almost welcoming to parishioners and pilgrims. It was interesting to watch the kids rehearse for the Passion play on stage. There were lots of stained glass pictures too. Because the parking lot on church grounds was full, I had to keep the car across from the church. We had to make the trip quick because I was parking on a resident’s parking spot! But I was able to take photos.
St. Vincent de Paul Parish.
This one is right beside Adamson University along San Marcelino St. in Ermita. It felt old… it was dark inside the chapel. I just stayed at the back. Tito Sibing was a parishioner there for 10 years… from 1956 to 1966.
St. Joseph the Worker Parish.
Located in Palanan, Makati, I think this is one of the smallest churches I’ve seen because it’s in the middle of the road (as if it’s the building separating the opposite lanes. But the interior of the church is beautiful, and it was quite cool inside because of the high ceilings. This was my first time to go through back roads of Makati.
St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori Parish.
This chapel is currently under renovation. It’s right inside Magallanes Village. The makeshift church is interesting because the roof is made of nipa. I was imagining that maybe, the churches in the old days looked like that: open air with wooden posts and nipa roofs.
When a church is stripped down to its essentials, I think that a structure like this is enough. There’s no need to build grand buildings… except of course if the goal of the early friars was to impress the pagans with pomp and pageantry, and grandeur of the new religion… but that’s in the 16th century.
At last I was able to see this world-famous church. It was built in the 1580s but was destroyed by fire and by typhoon. Inside, the arrangement reminded me of the Lipa Cathedral. There were so many people! There was even a van of GMA7 parked by the church’s facade! According to the marker, this church has been elevated to a basilica minore. It’s huge! Anyway, the first few churches were relatively empty, and I had an easy time finding a parking spot. But when we got to the cathedral, there were so many cars parked by the sides of the church that I had to slow down and hunt for a good spot. I finally found an empty space almost beside the GMA van (hehehe!). My parking skills were put to the test because I had to park at a weird angle in between a van and an electric post. But because I have been practising backward parking, I was able to park there without embarrasing myself.
Going back to the church, the green dome is the centerpice for this church. I think it’s been renovated recently because the blocks look a bit new. But the wooden carvings on the door looked really really old. I find it interesting that the clock on the bell tower is actually working! Another novelty is the rayadillo patrolling the streets… It’s like travelling back to the Hispanic era when the guardia civil were controlling traffic flow!
The vendors and the hawkers outside the church reminded me of the time when Jesus walked to the temple and overturned the merchants’ stalls. The cathedral was so busy with people outside that it’s a surprise to find solitude inside it.
San Agustin Church.
A few minutes away (by foot, the road was blocked off) from the cathedral is this chapel built by the Augustinian friars. It turns out to be a UN World Heritage Site (like so many of the churches I’ve visited in Ilocos during the Hum 2 field trip under Prof. Zafaralla). The facade is not impressive, though (it was painted pink, for crying out loud!). But the interior of the church is a different story, though. The chandeliers reminded me of the stained glass panels in the Winchester Mansion (San Jose CA) and of the wooden chandeliers in the Agoo church.
When we got there, it was quite dark, so I took the tour of the museum. That was a treasure chest of Philippine history. The curators of the museum were able to integrate the history of the country with the development of the Catholic religion. There were vestments, 18th century books, statues, paintings, relics… they also included the crypt as part of the museum! That’s the creepy bit.
Tita Ising and Tito Sibing were married in this church, and she said it was magnificent when the lights are switched on. True enough, the lights were lit at 4pm in time for the washing of the apostle’s feet. Still on tour, I took a detour to the choir loft. There was a gigantic book of hymns and wooden chairs for the choir (it must be hard to sit on them!). But the view of the altar from the loft was the best part of all. The yellow glow from the chandeliers (with the sparklies from the crystals) was a sharp contrast to the red carpet and the colorful vestments of the priests. I thought I walked into the set of movie shoot.
The feel of this part of Intramuros was similar to that of Vigan. There were old houses, a plaza, and a convent (I think) that made it look like a life size museum. Except that in Vigan, cars are not allowed to drive on the cobblestoned roads. But in Manila, they just traverse it… and the streets are full of trash… very Manila.
Shrine of Jesus: The Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Found at the Central Business Park at the reclaimed portion of Pasay City, I thought this church would be deserted and parking would be a cinch. But I was dead wrong! There were vehicles everywhere, and I had to park parallel to other cars. But the view of the sunset was heavenly… even the view of moonrise was breathtaking (too bad my camera died on me for the nth time). There were so many people that many of them were sitting on the steps. We got there in time to see the washing of the feet, but we didn’t stay long. I thought the church was big, because of the grand facade. However, the interior was almost as small as that of the St. Joseph the Worker Parish.
After saying prayers, we decided to stroll a bit farther to the bay. There were less cars and the walk was wide. People can actually fly kites there and breathe the fresh air. The view was also great. It’s better than Baywalk because I get irritated with the cars parked right along the highway and on the sidewalk. Plus, there were so many restaurants and comedy bars that it looked like Malate was uprooted from it’s spot and transferred there!
That’s my Maundy Thursday adventure this year. I wonder what’s in store for me next year. Another city? Another province? Who knows?