Bataan: A New Place for Pilgrims

IMG_20140810_205554After a week of downpour and promises of typhoon from weather updates, it’s a wonder to be given a weekend of fine weather. It’s August, and as it happens yearly, our parish hosted its 16th Parish Pilgrimage. This year, the officials decided to visit four pilgrim shrines in the historical Bataan. I haven’t been there, and so I could say, it would also be a fulfillment to the second item on my bucket list: Visit places I’ve never been to.

First stop: Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Orani

Dominican friars brought the image of the Virgin of Orani in 1587, together with the image of Sto. Domingo de Guzman. The Orani Church, also known as Our Lady of The Most Holy Rosary was declared an independent parish on April 21, 1714. The original structure was made of nipa leaves and bamboo, but it was later reconstructed using adobe and stone.

Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Orani
Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, Orani
The 1935 Stone Marker
The 1935 Stone Marker
The Altar
The Altar
The churh's interior
The church’s interior

The bell displayed in front of the church (Ang Batingaw ng Orani) is a historical artifact. It was first used in 1806, during the term of Fathers Juan Jose de Acuña and Esteban se Sta. Maria as Parish Priests. It also symbolizes the lasting faith in the Lord of the people of Orani, as well as the birth and the timeless legacy of Christianity in the province.

Ang Batingaw ng Orani

Second stop: Sto. Domingo de Guzman, Abucay

This Spanish-era church was built in 1587, making it one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. The more than 400-year-old structure is the sole living witness of the massacre of more than 200 native defenders when the Dutches came to invade in 1647.

Sto. Domingo de Guzman, Abucay
Sto. Domingo de Guzman, Abucay
IMG_20140810_204211
The 1939 Stonemarker
The Altar
The Altar
The Dome
The Dome

The church also housed the first printing press which is said to outdate any single printing press in the United States.

Third stop: St. Joseph Spouse of Mary, Balanga

St. Joseph, Spouse of Mary, Balanga
St. Joseph, Spouse of Mary, Balanga

In 1739, Balanga became an independent missionary center. The cathedral was used as an artillery emplacement to bombard Mt. Samat during the Japanese invasion.

IMG_20140810_204837
The 1940 Stonemarker
The Altar
The Altar
The Dome
The Dome

What fascinated me the most in the interior is this spiral staircase.

IMG_20140810_204038

The interior
The interior
The left side of the Church has this space for columbary.
The left side of the Church has this space for columbary.

Fourth stop: Nuestra Seniora del Pillar

This is the 7th town and parish that the Dominican Fathers founded. The first chapel built in 1927, was made of wood and nipa roofing. The stone church was constructed in 1834, under the administration of the Dominican Fr. Jesus Miñano.

Our Lady of the Pilar (Photo courtesy of Y. Andee)
Our Lady of the Pilar (Photo courtesy of Y. Andee)

This is, for me, the most beautiful church that we’ve visit. The stonewalls are very impressive and the interior’s simplicity accentuated its grandeur.

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The altar

But the very highlight of this church is the life-size images depicting some gospel scenes.

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman
Jesus and the Samaritan Woman
The Women at the Foot of the Cross
The Women at the Foot of the Cross

Final stop: Mt. Samat National Shrine

Also known as Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valor), this memorial shrine was built to honor the gallantry of Filipino and American soldiers during the World War II.

After suffering many loss, Bataan became the refuge of many Filipino and American soldiers. Then Bataan fell (it was the famous Fall of Bataan), where Major General Edward King surrendered to the Japanese, after which, American and Filipino soldiers were led to the Bataan Death March.

The base of the Monumental Cross (photo courtesy of Y. Andee)
The base of the Monumental Cross (photo courtesy of Y. Andee)
This unusually upside down flower is just amazing.
These unusually upside down flowers are just amazing.

All in all, it as such a satisfying trip. There are a lot of people that I haven’t seen for so long who came along as well. But of course, it wasn’t just a trip. It’s a journey to a sacred place. I am doing a separate post regarding my reflection throughout the journey.

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