Wednesday, August 09, 2006


The Laguna lake loop offers plenty of interesting and magnificent colonial churches for churchopiles. The trip can be done in one day but I did mine 3 times during trips to the Bicol region and Quezon province --- one via Lucban in Quezon, the next via Angono in Rizal, and the last one via Los Banos, Laguna. Personally, the best starting point should be a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Nuestra Senora de la Paz y Viaje in Antipolo, Rizal (to be discussed in another posting). Chronological along this route are the old churches of Morong, Baras, and Tanay in Rizal which is a national heritage site; and Mabitac, Pakil, Paete, Pagsanjan, Lumban, Sta. Cruz, Pila, Bay, Los Banos, Calamba, and Sta. Rosa in Laguna:

MORONG, RIZAL. The church of San Geronimo was started to be built in 1615 mostly by Chinese craftsmen under the supervision of Fr. Blas de la Madre. The beautiful bell tower and intricate fa├žade --- acknowledged to be the most beautiful and the tallest to be made by the Franciscans --- was built by Bartolome Platino of Paete under the supervision of Fr. Maximo Rico (OFM) between 1850 and 1853. The church has been declared as a national treasure.

BARAS, RIZAL. The first church was built by the Franciscans in 1595. The town was handed to the Jesuits in 1616 who relocated the church to a place called Ibayo in 1636. After the Jesuits left in 1679, the church was returned to its old site in 1682. The present church, dedicated to San Jose, was built in 1686.

National Heritage Site: Via Crucis and Retablos

Tanay used to be a small village of what is then Monte Tan-ay under the jurisdiction of Pililla. A church was built, probably of light materials, when it was established as an independent parish in 1606. A new church was probably built when the town was relocated to what was then San Antonio in 1620. The town was moved to its present site in 1640 after it was razed by fire during the Chinese uprising. A stone church was then built and completed in 1680. This was demolished due to its deterioration and replaced by the present church (dedicated to San Ildefonso) that was started to be built in 1773 probably by Fr. Ildefonso Petanes (OFM). The church underwent repair works in 1851. The church features a Via Crucis (i.e. Way of the Cross) with remarkable indigenous motifs and a five-panel Rococo retablo. The National Commission on Culture and Arts had declared it as a national heritage site. During the Philippine revolution against Spain and the Filipino-American War, Tanay's Rawang Pass and Kalinawan Plateau are known strongholds of the Filipino revolutionaries.

MABITAC, LAGUNA. The first church was probably built at around 1615 when an image of the Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria --- brought from Mexico and venerated throughout the province of Laguna --- was enshrined. There are no records on who built the present church that was damaged during the earthquake of 1880. Fr. Antonio dela Fuente (OFM) had it repaired only to be destroyed during the 1937 earthquake. Only the bell tower is left of the original structure. A 96-step stairway leads to the church and a panoramic view of Laguna de Bay.

PAKIL, LAGUNA. Construction on the present church (dedicated to San Pedro de Alcantara) started in 1732 under the supervision of Fr. Fernando Haro (OFM). In 1788, the Virgin of Turumba was enshrined in the church. It was repaired in 1852 after suffering damages from a fire, and rebuilt in 1881 after it was damaged by an earthquake.

PAETE, LAGUNA. The mission of Paete was established by Fr. Juan de Plasencia (OFM) in 1580. The first church was built in 1602. Another church was probably constructed in 1646 that was rebuilt in 1717 and again in 1840. This was destroyed during the 1880 earthquake and was again rebuilt in 1884 under the supervision of Fr. Pedro Gallano (OFM). The church, dedicated to Santiago Apostol, was again damaged during the 1937 earthquake and was immediately reconstructed.

PAGSANJAN, LAGUNA. In 1687, Fr. Agustin de la Magdalena (OFM) had the first church of light materials built. This was replaced by the present church of the Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe that was constructed in 1690 under the supervision of Miguel Guna-co and Alguacil Mayor Alfonso Garcia. The church was damaged during World War II and has been repaired.

LUMBAN, LAGUNA. The Franciscans probably established the mission of Lumbang in 1578. On the same year, Fr. Juan de Plasencia (OFM) initiated building the first church that was later destroyed by fire. A new church --- dedicated to San Sebastian --- was completed at around 1600 by a native Filipino called Burlon and was the first to be built of stone in Laguna. Lumban used to be the center of all missionary activities in Laguna. From 1606 to 1618, a rest house for sick Franciscan missionaries was maintained there. The church was seriously damaged by the 1880 earthquake and was repaired.

STA. CRUZ, LAGUNA. In 1608, a stone church was built during the administration of Fr. Antonio de la Llave (OFM). In 1790, Fr. Miguel Perciva (OFM) enlarged the church that was dedicated to the La Imaculada Concepcion. This was destroyed during the 1880 earthquake and was reconstructed during the administrations of Fr. Martin de Vidales (OFM) and Fr. Gregorio Ercilla (OFM) from 1881 to 1883. The church was burned down in 1945 and was rebuilt in 1948.

Sta. Cruz is the birthplace of my father-in-law. Like my father, he moved a lot: in Sta. Ana in Manila, in Cebu City, before finally settling down in my mother-in-law’s hometown of Talavera, Nueva Ecija where he died (my father died in my mother’s hometown of Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya). I only met him through my in-laws’ stories and a cut-out picture that my wife keep. He is a relative of Andres Manambit --- a local hero in Laguna who’s life has been made into a film starring Eddie Garcia.

PILA, LAGUNA. The Franciscans were already in Pila by 1606 when they put up a printing press that was supervised by Tomas Pinpin and Domingo Loeg. The first church was built in 1618. To avoid the frequent floods, the town was relocated to its present site in 1800 where a new church was built. The present church (dedicated to San Antonio de Padua) was built in 1849 under the supervisions of Fr. Antonio Argobejo (OFM) and Fr. Domingo de Valencia (OFM).

BAY, LAGUNA. The church dedicated to San Agustin was probably built in 1864 during the administration of Fr. Geronimo Hervas (OFM) and Fr. Pedro Moya (OFM) after the town was relocated to its present site. It was destroyed during World War II and was rebuilt in 1953.

LOS BANOS, LAGUNA. A hospital chapel served as the town’s first church from 1613 until 1727. Fr. Domingo Mateo started building what is probably the present church in 1790. This was destroyed during the earthquake of 1863 and was repaired in 1880 under the supervisions of Fr. Manuel Rodriguez and Fr. Gilberto Martin. The church (dedicated to the La Imaculada Concepcion) was probably damaged again during the 1880 earthquake and subsequently restored.

CALAMBA, LAGUNA. Calamba is popularly known as the birthplace of the Philippines’ national hero --- Dr. Jose Rizal --- who was baptized in the church of San Juan Bautista by Fr. Rufino Collantes in 22 June 1861. There are no records on when and who built the church. During World War II, the fleeing Japanese soldiers herded Calamba’s residents inside the church and then burned it. Fr. Eliseo Dimaculangan, the parish priest during what is now known as the Calamba Massacre, had the church rebuilt after the war. Just across the street is the Rizal house that was restored through funds donated by Filipino school children and under the supervision of National Artist for Architecture Juan Nakpil.

STA. ROSA, LAGUNA. Sta. Rosa was established by the Dominicans as an independent parish in 1792. It took 16 years to build the church from 1796 until 1812. The image of the patron saint (i.e. Sta. Rosa de Lima) enthroned in the church was a gift from the ambassador of Peru to the Philippines who brought the image in 1999. The church has been renovated several times.

Sta. Rosa is one of Uncle Kidlat’s last assignment before he retired from the military service. I visited him once in their camp located in the middle of a sugarcane field. He was mad because he was ordered to join a night patrol despite his senior status as the Battalion First Sergeant and his impending retirement.


Anonymous said...

nice collection of churches here. i intend to re-visit them these coming days

btw, not to burst your bubble, but andres manambit is not a hero. his life was made into a movie about the family feud in Lumban town where they engaged their rival clan in an infamous "ubusan ng lahi"

ryan said...

your picture of the church in sta.rosa is not the original church that you mentioned,the church in the picture is from sta.rosa complex in balibago,the church that youre talking about is located in sta.rosa town proper,beside the town plaza.

amichael said...

Beautiful shots. Interesting descriptions. Very curious Blog. I greet warmly - michael from Flickr:)

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Gilbert said...

you should visit sir churches in Batangas... Calaca Church is being restored currently... :)