Getting there.

January 23, 2011- It was an early start for me as I left the house while everyone was still asleep. Today we will be visiting churches in Bulacan. It was my first time to visit that province so I was more than excited to go there. I was meeting my former professor, his student, and a colleague. There was not much of a plan. We just have to meet early so we can reach our destination and start our pilgrimage early. We did not rent a car to tour us around the towns, instead we decided to use the most popular mode of transportation in the Philippines - jeepneys.

The jeepney ride from San Fernando Pampanga to Bulacan proper lasted almost an hour. Since it was only early, there were only a few of us passengers so we could sit comfortably during the entire ride. The cold breeze of the January air kept blowing on us as we journeyed on the long route to Bulacan. The highway was recently reconstructed so the long commute was not frustrating.

The jeepney stopped at intersection of Bulacan so we took another jeepney ride to the town proper. From there, the travel going to town proper was a little uncomfortable due to the ongoing road constructions, flooded and narrow streets. Traffic was bad when we were almost there so we decided to walk the extra kilometers to the town proper. It was pass 8 in the morning when we reached our destination and masses on both the cathedral and Barasoain have already started so we decided to have our brunch while waiting for the next mass.

Holy Mass at the Cathedral de Malolos.

Sunday masses celebrated in the cathedral are continuous to accommodate the large volume of devotees. Not only were all seats taken, the aisle was filled with standing people eager to hear mass. In fact, the huge structure could not hold enough that a lot of people settled at the side and by the church entrance.

We were lucky to get seats on the front row. My former professor tagged as along the crowded aisle as the priest was giving the final blessing. As soon as the mass ended, we squeezed ourselves in the exiting crowd and were able to sit on the best seats in the cathedral. What a better way to start a day of adventure than hearing mass.


Our Goals.

We would not call it a day of pilgrimage if not for the main objective of our long commute: to visit churches and pray. It is said that you should make a wish every time you visit a church for the first time. My former professor however shared this brilliant idea:

"Have a specific prayer or petition in each Church you visit. So whenever you visit that particular church, you know which prayer to dedicate it for."

He mentioned that one church he dedicated for his father, one for himself , one for his close friends and it goes on and one. So every time he would visit these churches, he knew what to pray for. I think I should start doing it as well.

Praying is my ultimate agenda in visiting churches. Taking pictures is another thing. Equipped with my camera phone (my SLR funds came out short) I took as many prictures as I can. The majestic structures of the churches always leave my breathless. I feel goosebumps everytime I visit a church especially if only few people are around. I want to take my time and explore every inch of these churches and just take photos.

There are a lot of things I notice in every church that I visit: the facade; the bell tower; the main entrance doors; historical description of the church; the altar or shrine; the ceiling; the tombstones cemented on the church walls; the antique accessories; the statues; the list goes on. I can literally feel shivers down my spine and I have to catch my breath in every church visit. I wish I could stay longer but we needed to visit as much as we can in less than a day.

It doesn't always hurt to bring an adult with you. In our case, our former professor, Mr. Polintan, was more than a chaperone to us (lol! just kidding sir). His expertise in history and philosophy fed our minds with historical and religious information. He's the best buddy to bring in every expedition! No kidding! He's like a walking history book with a mix of undefeating humor! He's a chaperone/tourguide/human map/clown! (haha don't kill me sir). Seroiusly, every question we asked during our trip always had an answer. Our ignorance was been fed with detailed explanations. (nosebleed, trully).

We were able to visit 5 churches in less than a day within Bulacan. In between long jeepney rides, long walks and hot climate, were rewarding destinations in every church we stopped by.

Cathedral de Malolos - Malolos, Bulacan


It was the busiest church we've visited so we had little time to explore the inside of the cathedral. The tower was under construction and the facade was painted in a modern design. The altar was huge and adorned with flowers.

Barasoain Church - Malolos, Bulacan

The facade of this church is definitely photogenic. the aged bricks which was built in the 1800's left different shades of gray that leaves an eerie feeling of being transported back to the Spanish era in the country. Its magnificent bell tower stands out on the crowded town of Malolos. The altar was equally magnificent as it was painted in gold and silver. The perfect church for a destination wedding ;).

One of the historical churches in the country, the Barasoain church holds the most important historical event in the Philippines. The Constitution of Malolos was signed here, and the shrine on the walls of the old church seals its authenticity.


The convent of Barasoain houses a lavish exhibit of Catholic heritage. Unfortunately, it was closed for the day due to a scheduled program.

Bulacan Church - Bulacan, Bulacan

The church exterior literally left my breathless. It is my favorite facade among the five churches we've visited. Its architecture is impressive and it is uniquely designed. It reminds me of old goth architecture with the gargoyles and demons. ;) You have to see it for yourself. The humble interior and altar shows its simplicity. The orginal 'suelo' or tiles was already covered with new marble flooring but a spot on the entrance was preserved to remember the intricate design of the original tiles.


Church of Obando - Obando, Bulacan

We call it the pink church because of the pink details on both the exterior and interior of the church. It houses Our Lady of Salambao,the patroness of the town whose image was said to be caught by fisherman with their nets 'salambao', hence the presence of the salambao on the altar. The church also houses Saint Pascual Baylon and Saint Claire of Assisi. These two images are famous for couples who are longing to have a baby. These two images are part of a procession where the locals dance during the fiesta. The so-called fertility dance is being attended by locals and tourists alike.


Church of Plaridel - Plaridel, Bulacan

The last stop on our journey was the Simbahan ng Plaridel. The simple architecture and interior as well as the serene environment is a nice place to reflect and pray. It's convent however, houses an amazing array of cultural artifacts and religious antiques displayed in an amusement of exhibits.

Final Notes.

There is not much to eat if you are psyched for food trip in Bulacan. Fast foods joints are found in the Malolos town proper, otherwise, small carinderias or food stalls can be located elsewhere in nearby towns. Mineral water from sari-sari stores kept us refreshed in between long walks under the sun. A carinderia just in front or the Plaridel Church offers snacks for a hungry traveler. It also sells these soft, moist, and delicious bibingkas - perfect for pasalubong. Jeepneys going to different towns are easily seen if you are in the town proper if you plan to commute. Do bring an umbrella or wear a hat to protect you from the sun and a handy towel for refreshing yourself. There are public restrooms in both the cathedral and the Plaridel Church in case you have a bathroom emergency.

The Bulacan pilgrimage was a blast. Though my skin was two tones darker, and my energy was already drained at the end of the day, it was all worth it. I've got new photos, newly visited churches, new experience to share, and a whole new perspective. I can't wait for the next adventure!


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