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I love to travel just to explore new things in life from breathtaking natural wonders, interesting historical sites, delicious food, friendly people and colorful culture. I treasure every moment in traveling by writing in my journal, taking photos and publish it in my travel blog.
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Monday, February 8, 2016

Visita Iglesia: An Ecclesiastical Journey to the Churches in Batangas

BATANGAS. The first things come in our mind  when we hear that province are the tropical beach resorts, towering verdant mountains and progressive urban cities. Last year, I've made my Visita Iglesia in this province where I visited eight churches which played an important role in the history and culture of Batangas. I made a day tour from the highlands of Nasugbu to the urban cities of Lipa and Batangas. Let us explore the churches as we go on a pilgrimage and spiritual reflection in Batangas.
The Dominicum's grand stairway.
The Transfiguration Chapel
The Transfiguration Chapel in Caleruega
Nasugbu

From Cavite, I took a bus going to Batangas where I made my first stop in Nasugbu. From the highway near the boundary of Cavite and Batangas, I took a 10 minute tricycle ride going to the highland chapel. Caleruega was named after the birthplace of St. Dominic de Guzman, father of the Order of the Preachers. In order to honor and remember the legacy of their founder, the Filipino Dominicans established Caleruega that hopes it will be like the town of Caleruega in Spain. 

In this church, you may appreciate the beauty of nature and the verdant ambiance due to the richness of trees, flowers, and shrubs, the scenery of the mountains, and the solemn atmosphere of the place where you can reflect and relax to gain spiritual strength. The place is also an ideal venue for weddings and you may attend the Sunday mass here. Caleruega Church is located near in Mt. Batulao and in Evercrest Golf Course.
Immaculate Conception Parish Church, Balayan, a National Cultural Treasure.
Immaculate Conception Parish Church
Balayan

From the highlands, I took a forty-five minute jeepney ride to the historic, coastal town of Balayan. There are plenty of heritage houses in the town proper and a few walks within the Plaza Mabini, you may visit the Immaculate Conception Parish Church. The church is listed as a National Cultural Treasure because it was built and supervised by the Filipino seculars during the Spanish colonial period. The church was constructed in 1591 and it was blessed by Father Pedro Chirino. In 1795, a new stone church was blessed in honor of the Immaculate Conception, the Patroness of Balayan. Today, the church is still standing and reflects the history and culture of Balayan.
The newly renovated St. Rafael Archangel Church in Calaca.
St. Raphael the Archangel Parish Church
Calaca

After the visit to Balayan, the adjacent town of Calaca is next where I visited the St. Rafael Archangel Parish Church. It was a historical church but it was renovated recently. The devotees believed that the image of St. Rafael the Archangel in the church is miraculous and he is also the patron saint of healing.

The facade of Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours, one of the heritage sites in Taal.
Minor Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours
Taal

After two or three years, I came back to Taal and it is the same heritage town that I've seen a few years ago where the Spanish era houses are still there and gives you the feeling of traveling back in time. I visited the "Biggest Catholic Church in Southeast Asia", the Basilica of Saint Martin de Tours. The first church was built in 1575 and it was located in the shores of Taal Lake which is the present town of San Nicolas. It was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1754 and built in its present location in 1755. The church was damaged by a strong earthquake in 1852 and it was restored which is the present church from 1856 to 1878. A small tower at the left side of the facade which contained the large church bell was destroyed by an earthquake in 1942. Recently, there are renovations made in the church.
The Our Lady of Caysasay Church which houses the Marian image of Our Lady of Caysasay.
Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay
Taal

A few walks away from the Basilica, you may take the San Lorenzo Steps and it will lead you to the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of  Caysasay. It is a coral-hewn chapel located in Barrio Caysasay which was built in 1639. The first church was built around 1611 by the Chinese which was made of light materials. In 1754, the roof of the church was destroyed by boulders and ashes of Taal Volcano and in 1852, the walls were destroyed by an earthquake. Therefore, the church has been renovated ever since and the convent was converted into an orphanage. The church is also the home of the image of Our Lady of Caysasay, one of the oldest images of Immaculate Conception, which was discovered by a fisherman in 1603 and it was canonically crowned in 1954 as "Queen of the Archdiocese of Lipa." The church is also near to the miraculous Saint Lucia Well and there are apparitions happened in Caysasay during the Spanish era.
The Immaculate Conception Parish was transferred for three times before it stood on its present location.
Immaculate Conception Parish Church
Bauan

From Taal, I took a jeepney ride going to Bauan where I've visited the Immaculate Conception Parish, a Neo-Classical church in the town. It was administered by the Augustinian priests from 1596 to the end of nineteenth century. The church was transferred from the shores of Bombon River to a place called Durugto in 1662, as well in the place called Lonal up to its present site in 1692. After transferring to a new location, it was destroyed by typhoons and fire but they are trying to build with strong materials until the present church was completed in 1894. The church also houses the Holy Cross of Bauan, the patron saint of the town.
The Neo-classical architecture of Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
Batangas City 

After a five to ten minute jeepney ride from Bauan, you can visit the province's capital city where you can find the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. It was first built in 1581 which was dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and it became an independent parish in 1614. It was originally made of light materials but the church was destroyed by a fire in 1615 and in 1686, it began laying the foundation of the new stone church. The church was destructed by fire again in 1747 and repaired in 1756. The church went to several restorations during the Spanish era and in 1945, the church was declared as the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
The miraculous Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Lipa City.
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church
Lipa City 

After one hour of travel from Batangas City, I visited the progressive and ecclesiastical city of Lipa. In the busy town proper, you can find the the Monastery of Our Lady of Mount Carmel of Mary Mediatrix of All Grace. The church was built in 1946, one year after Lipa was damaged by the Japanese forces during the Liberation. In 1948, a miracle was reported in the grounds of the church with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace, made an apparition on a nun named Teresita Castillo. However, the Catholic church declared that the apparition is fraudulent and Castillo left the convent. In 1990, a new apparition happened again where the Blessed Virgin Mary requesting that the statue destroyed should be displayed again and in 1991, the miraculous shower of rose petals happened in the grounds of the monastery.

Supposedly, I would like to visit the San Sebastian Cathedral in Lipa but it was past six o'clock in the evening so I rode a jeepney going to Calamba City and I took a ride from Calamba City going back home to Cavite. It has been a provincial round trip from the western mountains, reaching the southern coasts and heritage towns up to the urban cities for a pilgrimage which devotes my faith in God.

It was proven that Batangas is also an ideal place for Visita Iglesia because the churches have an interesting story to share from the miracles, restorations and historical events. There are many churches and places of worship in Batangas that I've never been visited yet and definitely, I will come back next time for another Visita Iglesia post featuring the different churches in the province.

Date of Travel: April 1, 2015

5 comments:

  1. this is my destination this coming holy week ^_^

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  2. I love going to different churches specially if it has so much history. And its been our tradition doing visita iglesia.

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  3. I didn't noticed that Holy Week is already near. I haven't plan yet which church to visit this year. We've been to Calaruega two years ago.

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  4. I've seen Caleruega before and it's really beautiful. The rest of the churches looks beautiful too.

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  5. thThis church look undoubtedly great.I do love to visit it sometime.Thank you.

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