My mom has been doing Visita Iglesia for years. She always has this specific list of churches to visit because she needed to plan the route that she would take since she had to ride a bus or other public transportation. This was my first year to join her. We decided to pick 7 Pangasinan churches to visit.
- Holy Family Parish Church, Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan
- St. Thomas Aquinas Parish Church, Mangaldan, Pangasinan
- St. Hyacinth Parish, San Jacinto, Pangasinan
- Shrine of Our Lady of Rosary of Manaoag, Manaoag, Pangasinan
- St. Therese Church, Rizal Ext., Dagupan City
- Senyor Divino Tesoro, Calasiao, Pangasinan
- St. Peter and Paul Parish Church, Calasiao, Pangasinan
It was almost 5 am when I woke up. I was sleep deprived because I had to work late for a project with a client. Because I promised my mom that I would join her in going around 7 different churches in our province, I tried my best to wake up early.
We had a very light breakfast as waited for Kuya Lando, our old neighbor who agreed to take us around town for the Visita Iglesia. It was around 7 am when we hoppped in his tricycle and went to our first destination.
Holy Family Parish Church, Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan
My mom, who is always enthusiastic about everything in the world was very happy when she saw her “classmates”. At first, I thought that they were actually classmates, but she explained that the old women and men, plus the group of cyclists who exchanged smiles with her have been doing the same old Visita Iglesia tradition for years.
I didn’t really know what to expect when we started our trip. Although I have a very strong faith that a divine being watches over everything and everyone, I’m never that sort of religious person. However, I am strongly fascinated by the years of tradition, the stories and the lessons that come with a particular religion, but not the idea of belonging to a certain affiliation.
When we entered the church, I watched a flock of people holding what appeared to be a booklet of prayers. They walked around and stopped at every station of the cross and uttered the lines written in the pieces of paper.
My mom knelt and prayed. I sat beside her and marvelled at the altar and the people who were praying as well. I also studied the church interiors. Moments after, I also started praying, thanking the heavens for my budding career, my loving family and my good health.
After we finished praying, I went out and took a couple of shots. Then we moved to the next church on our list.
St. Thomas Aquinas Parish Church, Mangaldan, Pangasinan
The next church wasn’t that far because we took a shortcut. It was one of the churches that I get to see whenever I went to Baguio City. The Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish has a very large parking area. We parked somewhere along the side of the church.
I observed how many people gathered around. There were groups of strangers who I guessed join their fellow pilgrims to celebrate the festivity. There were also plenty of families walking around the church and praying. Like in the first church, my mom also knelt and pray.
St. Hyacinth Parish, San Jacinto, Pangasinan
The third church was just minutes away from the second one. It was comparatively smaller, but it was just as pretty as the first two.
After praying and roaming around the church grounds, we went to the next church.
Shrine of Our Lady of Rosary of Manaoag, Manaoag, Pangasinan
Frankly, I couldn’t remember the last time I came to Manaoag. As a child, my mother brought me here with my other relatives. A lot of things have changed. I noticed how the road going up the church is no longer just a barren pavement. There are now tiles on the floor. Also, the sidewalk had railings and brick pathway.
I barely noticed any changes inside the church, except for the repainted ceiling. My mom and I went to the area closest the altar, where devotees, as well visiting pilgrims prayed.
After praying, we went to the candle lighting area (not sure what that part was called), where more people converged as they lit their candles and prayed. We spent a longer time walking around the Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag. I took lots of photos too. It was just a sight to behold. There were lots of people. Most of them came in groups. There were also lots of children who came along with their mums and dads. Although those kids probably don’t understand why they went there, I applaud their parents for imbibing strong cultural and probably religious values to their kids.
St. Therese Church, Rizal Ext., Dagupan City
The next church we went to was St. Therese Parish. It was a very quaint church, with very little number of chairs compared to the other churches we visited. My mom loves this church so much because she is devotee of St. Therese.
Senyor Divino Tesoro, Calasiao, Pangasinan
The last two churches on our list was located in our hometown, Calasiao. The first church we went to was Senior Divino Tesoro. I believe that there are many devotees of the relic here.
When we came here, there was a long queu of people who were waiting to get their chance to touch the relic on the altar. We didn’t fall in line with the visitors. Instead we knelt and prayed. I observe how there was a mix of old people and young people inside this small church.
St. Peter and Paul Parish Church, Calasiao, Pangasinan
After the first church, we walked to the last church on our list. Among all the churches, I think this is the prettiest. I always loved classic looking churches. They make me feel like walking back in the old days.
The interiors though wasn’t that spectacular, most especially because the lights were off. Still we prayed and looked at everyone who was coming inside the church to pray.
We were so happy to conclude our trip successfully. I was so happy that even when I barely slept the night before our trip, I felt so energized seeing all the people who were so doing the same thing as we did. I also loved the Pangasinan churches that we visited. They are so beautiful.
How we got to the different churches in less than 5 hours (7:00 – 12:00):
Because we don’t have a car, my mom and I tried to figure out whether we would just commute and visit each church or call our trusty neighbor and ask if he could take us around with his tricycle. Given that renting a vehicle would be more practical than commuting, we both agreed to give it a go.
We live in Calasiao, so we figured that we should first go to church in Sta. Barbara. It took us 10 minutes to get there from our house. We stayed for less than 25 minutes to pray and look around the church. Then went to Mangaldan, Pangasinan via the Santa Barbara-Mangaldan Road. That route took us around 20 minutes to get to St. Thomas Aquinas Church.
After spending less than half an hour at Mangaldan, we traveled to Santo Tomas, Pangasinan via the Binalonan-Mangaldan Highway. Because we did our Visita Iglesia early, there aren’t a lot of cars traversing the highways, so it took us less than 15 minutes to arrive at our 3rd church, where we spent less than 20 minutes to pray and walk around.
We traveled to Manaoag via the main road and reached the Shrine after 20 minutes. Unlike other churches, we stayed longer at Manaoag because it was big and we went around to see how much the place has changed. We stayed here for almost 45 minutes, then traveled to St. Therese Church in Dagupan via the Binalonan-Mangaldan Highway, and Pangasinan-La union road for 30 minutes.
We stayed for a little around 20 minutes at St. Therese then asked Kuya to drop as off at Galvan St. to see if the old church is open. To our dismay, it wasn’t open. Mom and I just took a Dagupan-Calasiao jeepney to get to our last two church on the list. The jeepney ride took about 15 minutes. The two churches at Calasiao were close to each other. We spent at most 45 minutes at both churches.
In summary, here was our schedule:
7:00-7:10 Tricycle ride to Sta. Barbara Church
7:10-7:30 Prayer and Leisure Time
7:30-7:50 Tricycle ride to Mangaldan Church
7:50-8:10 Prayer and Leisure Time
8:10-8:25 Tricycle ride to Santo Tomas Church
8:25-8:55 Prayer and Leisure Time
8:55-9:15 Tricycle ride to Manaoag
9:15-10:05 Prayer and Leisure Time
10:05-10:35 Tricycle ride to St. Therese Church
10:35-10:55 Prayer and Leisure Time
10:55-11:30 Walk to Jeepney stop + Jeepney ride to Calasiao
11:30-12:20 Prayer and Leisure Time
12:40 We arrived safely at our house
I definitely look forward to doing this again next year. Maybe we could go to other churches by then. Maybe we could visit churches in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) or other parts of Pangasinan such as Alaminos, Lingayen and other neighboring towns. Perhaps after some time, when we have our own car, we can also go to even more farther places.