The town of Pakil traces its ancestry from the families of Maitan and Panumbalihan and Silayan Maginto and Potongan. Many settlers transferred to the town because of the numerous pirate attacks in the sea. The town’s name is derived from the name Paquil, who is believed to be one of the leaders from Borneo. The name was changed eventually to Pakil in 1927. A brief history of the town can be seen in the church’s second floor hallway.
The Parish of St. Peter of Alcantara or the Pakil Church traces its origin from the settlement organized by Father (later will be Saint) Pedro Bautista in 1588. St. Pedro Bautista is a Franciscan priest which was eventually martyred in Japan in 1595.
The Church was first made of wood and nipa under the administration of Father Francisco Barajas in 1676. The church was placed under the patronship of St. Peter of Alcantara, after the town of Pakil separated from the town of Paete. The church was reconstructed in stone by Father Fernando Jaro in 1732. Subsequently, the church has been renovated and reconstructed after it was damaged by fire or earthquake. Renovation from 1732 to 1881 includes the addition of the bell tower, galvanized roof, ceiling and the altar was remodeled. The church was badly damaged during the August 20, 1937earthquake and it was repaired by Father Federico Pines. Father Joseph Regan changed the altar to marble and was consecrated by Bishop Olaila in 1959.
The church also underwent extensive repairs from 1997 to 2003. In October 19, 2006 on the 330th foundation anniversary of the parish church, the Diocese of San Pablo declared the church as the Diocesan Shrine of Nuestra Señora Delos Dolores de Turumba.
The church has a Baroque façade. The Spanish coat of arms can be seen above the entrance door of the church. You will also notice that even the bell tower is also heavily decorated. Since the church’s first parish priests were Franciscans, most of the designs and plans of the church are in accordance with the Franciscan tradition— crosses, angels and shields among others.
The main retablado or the main altar has fourteen icons which are enclosed in an elaborate carved niche. The dome above the main altar has a painted mural which depicts Christ’s life. The wall beside the pulpit is adorned by a huge painting Judicium Finale(Final Judgment), depicting heaven and hell. It was painted in the 19th century by Paete native Jose Dans. The side altar which features the crucifixion is said to be a graphic depiction of the crucified Christ with the sorrowful Mother Mary and St. John. However, when I visited, the crucified Christ was not on the cross, I assume, it was not there, since its Maundy Thursday.
Nuestra Señora de los Dolores (Our Lady of Sorrows)
The Church of Pakil also serves as the shrine of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, the Virgin of Turumba since 1788. The miraculous image of the Our Lady of Sorrows was found floating in the riverbank of Pakil. Local stories will tell us that the original 9×11 oil painting of the image of Our Lady of Sorrows cannot be removed when it was wash ashore on top of a stone. The people of Pakil sang and danced, and miraculously, the image was removed from the stone and was brought in the Church. Fate will have it, because on the day of its festive transfer to the church, it coincides with the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows which is September 15. The said procession was the very first Turumba.
The Turumba Festival is held every second Tuesday or Wednesday after Holy Week or on October 19. It is the country’s longest celebrated festival.
On the church’s second floor, the original image of the Virgin of Turumba was enshrined in a chapel. You can also find the Virgin of Turumba’s clothes and accessories which are in glass cases.