For this year’s Holy Week, me and my family decided to go out of town to visit churches we haven’t been to. Initially, we were going to the Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag in Pangasinan but due to some circumstances, we figured that we couldn’t travel that far. I suggested that we should at least go around Laguna and my parents agreed.
Since I didn’t get off work until Wednesday, it was my siblings and my parents who planned most of the trip. Well, technically speaking, other than food, transportation and the first church we wanted to go to, there really wasn’t anything to plan. Dad was assigned to plan our itinerary which meant that we were going to wing it. All we knew was that our first church would be in San Pablo and we’d cap the day at Kamay ni Hesus.
Me and my siblings were in charge of preparations so we got up at 4:00 AM the day of our trip. I cooked while my sisters packed. Despite getting up early, we only managed to leave the house at 7:00 AM-ish. At that point, I got sleepy once again and, thanks to my trusty eye mask, I slept soundly in the car until we reached our first church – Church of St. Paul the First Hermit in San Pablo, Laguna.
When we got in, we didn’t start the stations of the cross yet. Instead, we prayed the rosary first. After saying our prayers, we had breakfast in the car. Then, we left for the next church.
Just as I predicted, dad didn’t really come up with a solid itinerary. However, thanks to Google and Waze, that didn’t become a major problem. We just went to the nearest church to our location. That turned out to be the Parish of Michael the Archangel in Rizal, Laguna, my favorite church among those we visited!
There was something about this church – other than the comfort room being really clean – that made me like it. I don’t know. It just felt really nice here. There was something about its atmosphere and mood.
It was here when we reflected on station’s one and two. The reflection for the second one really struck me (read it if you want to know why – Matthew 26: 36-46). We also tried to figure out the story of Michael the Archangel and then prayed for awhile in the Adoration Chapel.
Afterwards, we journeyed to Nagcarlan. There, we found the St. Bartholomew the Apostle Parish. At this point, I was feeling the motion sickness and suggested that we stay put for a while before we head out again. (Me and my siblings were also craving sugar at this point which meant that we were all feeling light-headed.)
We reflected on the third and fourth station here. We also stayed for a while and even bought cotton candy to share.
We headed to St. John the Baptist Parish in Liliw next. (For some weird reason, this is the most forgettable church among the seven that we visited. I don’t know if it was because I was too dizzy to remember or we were going through churches way too fast.)
After our visit to St. John the Baptist Parish, we were starting to crave for lunch (even if it was just 11:00 AM-ish). We decided to visit one more church before eating. At that time, we were already headed to Majayjay. Thanks to Google, we found two churches but we chose St. Gregory’s because it was closer.
On our way, we actually saw a ton of signs to various waterfalls. If I was being honest, I really wanted to stopover to one of them. We didn’t have to swim (even if I wanted to). I just really wanted to see a body of water! Whether it be a lake, a river, a waterfall or the ocean, I’d be fine with it. I just craved for water! (But of course, our family still wasn’t on that level of spontaneity and we had a mission to accomplish.) (Fun fact: we passed a sign to Pagsanjan falls and my heart broke a little.)
Anyway, back to our Visita Iglesia…
We got to St. Gregory the Great Parish Church in Majayjay and spent quite a while there. We reflected on the seventh and eighth station and ate lunch inside the car.
Besides its beautiful antique exterior, I fell in love with this church because it was relatively cooler than the other churches. The atmosphere was visibly lighter and it was also more windy inside. I liked it (although it still doesn’t measure up to the second church. Hard to explain.)
That was it for Laguna. After St. Gregory’s, we traveled Lucban.
Now, maybe this is just because of nostalgia, but Lucban air felt more welcoming. The moment we passed through the familiar market LAVOXA and I used to explore during press con days, my whole body lit up. My sense of direction even worked. Imagine, I was able to go back to the spot where the most amazing fried donuts used to be sold based on vague memories and instinct!
Dad parked near the church and that allowed me and my sister, Ish to walk around for a bit. I brought her to a trinket shop LAVOXA and I used to go to. Then, we finally walked to the church.
I remember passing by this church multiple times, even taking a photo in front of it during one occasion. But, it was only then that I learned of its name – San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Parish Church.
Ish and I went to the trinket area first before going in with our parents. Since I wanted to remember that I came back, I bought a cute keychain and a new rosary bracelet.
Then, we went in with our parents. We reflected on the ninth and tenth station.
It was still around 1:00 PM when we finished praying, which was earlier than what we anticipated for going to Kamay ni Hesus (we originally wanted to eat dinner there). We decided to go anyway so we could go home early.
We got there at around 2:00 PM because of the traffic. To us, that was still early so we had a power nap session in the car first. We woke up at 2:40 PM and that’s when we decided to get it over with. (It’s not that we didn’t want to anymore. As introverts, we have just reached our fill of being out of the home for too long.)
We told mom to stay in the church instead of climbing with us because she might not survive the heat and the people. With that, F4 climbed on our own.
The last time I climbed Kamay ni Hesus was in 2nd year college for a subject. This time, it felt easier (despite the crowd) because I honestly feel fitter for it. (Stony stairs have trained me well.)
This time also was more memorable for me and my siblings. When we last went there together, Kate (the youngest) still had to be carried around by dad. We also felt more tired because our bodies weren’t ready for the climb. Plus, this time, we were all grown up in our own way and I felt that kind of maturity.
We met dad at the summit. He was drenched in sweat but was satisfied that he reached the top.
We reunited with Mom at the church and then went to a shop to buy dad a new shirt. I also bought keychains for pasalubong. (Wait for it, friends!) We then bought drinks and then headed back home.
Travel time back home was 3 hours+ and by the time that we got back to Lipa, it was raining heavily. Usually, that was the time we’d do Visita Iglesia in Lipa. Maybe our trip was meant to happen so that we wouldn’t go around in the rain.
I said this a lot of times throughout the trip – I really like this – because I really do. I’m thankful that we’re able to travel together and make memories like this. I live with them and see them everyday, but it’s very rare that we actually have moments to just be with each other. I’ve realized how we’ve grown as a family through this simple experience and I am thankful to have them.