Having about 86% of the country’s population as Roman Catholics, the Philippines was on virtual shutdown as the country went on holiday for both Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  A lot have gone back to their hometown provinces while others took the opportunity to go on a long holiday.  The rest just stay home, chill and relax till the stores open again on Saturday.

Aside from the closed stores, local television networks are off air on Thursday and they go back to regular programming on Friday.  I remember when I was younger, there was nothing on TV except for religious programs for both Thursday and Friday.  With the advent of cable TV and internet, those staying in have more viewing choices. Yay!

I consider myself a semi-practicing Catholic with only having revived my status as a practicing Catholic to a larger extent recently.  It has been ingrained in me since childhood to give up something for Lent.  It must be something that truly feels like a sacrifice in order help me grow deeper in my faith and relationship with Jesus.  In the years past, I’ve given up sweets, cakes, desserts, alcohol, coffee or any combination of those.  These are things that I really love.  I mean not really alcohol, but if you go out, there’s always going to be a glass of wine.  That means I will be nursing a glass of water the whole night.  It’s doubly hard to give up sweets and alcohol for Lent especially since my birthday falls during Lent every year.  No fail.  Many times, I’ve had my birthday on Good Friday, Black Saturday or Easter Sunday.  How to give up birthday cake and birthday drinks right?  This year, I settled on coffee which was still a challenge. Next year, I am thinking of giving up social media for Lent. That’s an idea. A very painful idea. 

Today, I went with friends to do Visita Iglesia.  This was the first time I’ve ever done it.  My other friend wanted to go visit the churches in Old Manila, not the newer, more sanitized churches in the suburbs.  We had breakfast at 10AM, finished at 5PM and visited 8 churches in sweltering heat.  Let the visitation begin.

  1. Santo Domingo Church, otherwise known as the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of La Naval de Manila.  This is the largest church in Metro Manila and one of the biggest churches in Asia.
  2. Quiapo Church or Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene. The Black Nazarene statue was first brought to Manila by a group of Augustinian Recollect friars. I didn’t get to see the statue this visit. FullSizeRender 20
  3. San Sebastian Church  is a Philippine Historical Landmark and a National Cultural Treasure.
  4. Abbey Church of Our Lady of Montserrat – I went to Montserrat a few years back when I went to Spain but this was my first time to go to this church. FullSizeRender 16
  5. National Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus Manila holds a special place in my heart.  I went to the Catholic School beside the church until I finished elementary.
  6. San Agustin Church – I haven’t been back to this Church in ages and I think is the oldest church in Manila.
  7. Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Manila Cathedral) is the most popular church in the city and serves as the seat of the Archbishop of Manila.
  8. National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Baclaran Church) – We go to this church every New Year to give thanks for the past year.FullSizeRender 28

I’m happy I joined my friends and was able to do this Catholic tradition.  Better late than never right?

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