Travel Diary: Visita Iglesia in Laguna Loop [part 2]

I’ve always been fascinated with the church architecture. Indeed, it has always been in my list of favorite subject for photography. Aside from that, the underlying history and foundation is a very interesting narrative and likewise you will be equally amazed how these spanish period relics have lasted through the centuries, taking the visitors back to the 1600 and 1700 era.
I had the pleasure to visit some of these churches in Laguna which offers a historical approach to Philippines’ artistic treasure. I know it’s too early to do the visita iglesia but then I don’t need to wait for the holy week to appease my curiosity to see these beautifully restored architecture and religious relics.

My first on my list is the church from Mabitac, Nuesta Señora de Candelaria Church which is situated on top of the hill with 120+ steps before reaching it. It was first built in 1613 under the Franciscan missionaries. In order to make the townsfolk of Mabitac come to church, the image was brought to a chapel in Mabitac where it was erected on top of hill. The church has beautiful backdrop view of Sierra Madre. The ambiance is very quiet and has a wide spacious area where it can accommodate a fairly number of devotee. One thing I noticed though, only the bell tower of church remains and the rest is contemporary structural design. 

Mabitac is the first town when coming from Manila East Road but it is exactly opposite coming from the South Luzon Expressway. It is the northern most edge of Laguna. The town is said to be also the battle site in the Philippine-American war on September 1900.

Our next stop is the town of Siniloan, where the Sts. Peter and Paul Church located.  In my observation, Siniloan is much more developed than Mabitac. Aside from this, there are more people in the streets. Saints Peter and Paul are the patron saint which they celebrated every 29th of June. The church structure has been in modern style also probably due the repeated destruction caused by an earthquake.

It was already past 3pm when we reach the town of Pakil Laguna where it houses the parish church of San Pedro de Alcantara. First built in 1676 out of bamboo and nipa and later on was made into stone church. The church has a baroque style of architecture that features intricate stonework and cherubs enough to fascinate us. The main altar is a sight too wherein a retablos of antique images of saints is seated. San Pedro de Alcantara is home of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores or the Virgen de Turumba. In fact, Pakil has been famous for its longest festival, the feast of Turumba which is held seven times a year between the months of April and May. From its magnificent architecture, rich culture and history I will not be surprise that this church has been one of the favorite pilgrimage location during holy week. It radiates peace and serenity.

To finish our little pilgrimage in Laguna is the Paete Church which has an elaborate baroque style with an infusion of oriental artistry. Its retablo pieces were crafted by the town’s master carvers. The church is an attraction itself but the surroundings is likewise fascinating due to its display of different artworks from religious images, cartoon characters and some various items we usually used at home. Thus, they are known as the “Wood Carving Capital of the Philippines” as well as not to forget about the sweet lanzones they produced. 

There are still  more beautiful, old churches in Laguna we wanted to visit but sadly it's already late and some of them are out of the way. If you happen to be in Laguna, or plan to do a Visita Iglesia, you might want to visit one of these churches. ☺