Tondo Church

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The Church of Tondo is mentioned in my book A Tourist Guide to Notable Philippine Churches by Benjamin Layug. I have been fascinated by its structure since I saw it on TV during its fiesta celebration almost two years ago. I have been meaning to visit the church, but has been procastinating to go and visit the church.

The opportunity to visit the church came when my cousin gave birth at the Mary Johnston Hospital in Tondo, which is some few walks away from the church. I cannot pass that opportunity, since I will be visiting my newest inaanak (goddaughter) and my cousin and at the same time, finally, I will be able to visit the fascinating Sto. Niño de Tondo Parish Church and more importantly to give thanks for my cousin’s safe delivery.

It was a cloudy April 8, 2014 when I visited the church. I only have my mobile phone camera with me, my donation money and no bag at all when I visited the church. The church is located in Chacon Street facing a plaza with a marker for Amado V. Hernandez. A nearby police station stands nearby, vendors are located few steps away from the church’s stairs and a variety of people roam and loaf around the church’s vicinity.

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The Church was first built in 1625 and its first Catholic minister was the Augustinian priest Father Alfonso de Alvarado. Tondo was the residence of Lakan Dula and he was subsequently baptized by the Augustinian priest Father Martin de Rada. The church’s early ecclesiastical jurisdiction extends up to Pasig, Cainta and Taytay. It became the center of Catholic activities especially among the Chinese. The church was damaged by the earthquake of 1641. In 1662, Governor Manrique de Lara ordered the demolition of the convent as a military precaution against the expected attack of the Chinese pirate Kue- Sing (Koxinga) on Manila. The church was also rebuilt in 1662 and was completed in 1695. The façade and bell tower were rebuilt in 1734 and was again damaged by the earthquake of 1740 and 1863. The present structure was built by Father Manuel Diez Gonzalez and was completed under the administration of Father Casimiro Herrero in 1874.

The church’s neo-classical façade was made of adobe. It has ionic pilasters, semi circular arched windows, massive buttresses, opening to side aisles, central nave and a picturesque altar (again, I visited during Lent, the reason why the altar was draped in violet), I am attaching the photograph the original Santo Niño image of the church from the novena booklet given to me by the parish staff. The other Santo Niño image was the one at the pilgrim’s area.

Santo Niño in the main altar

Santo Niño in the main altar-as can be seen in the novena booklet

Sto. Niño in the pilgrim area

Sto. Niño in the pilgrim area

Every Friday, the Church has its novena to the Santo Niño. The church celebrates its feast day every third week of January and it continuously attracts pilgrims, devotees and visitors. According to the National Historical Commission, the traditional fluvial procession during the feast day was owed to the fact that the terrain of Tondo in the earlier years were consisted of water ways and tributaries which were connected to Manila Bay. It is also said to be the possible reason why the present church structure was constructed on elevated ground, to avoid inundation from the sea.

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At the pilgrim area near the Parish Office and the convent

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The church’s security guard is friendly and gave his usual warnings about the suspicious people (read pick pockets) around and even volunteered to take my picture which I politely refuse, since it is all about the church and not about me. The friendly security guard directed me to visit the iconic and miraculous image of the Infant Child inside the church and the pilgrim’s area near the Parish office and convent. Yes, I haven’t lost hope in humanity despite the reputation which precedes the place (I will have another post on it) because on that eight-day of April, I met kind people in Tondo.

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Liliw Church

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Our group reached the charming town of Liliw in the early evening. I beg your indulgences for the limits of my camera in capturing the beautiful red brick church of Liliw. This is my second time to visit the church and in both instances it’s all a short one, which I suppose means that I have to come back for the third time (in broad daylight) and enjoy the splendor of the church and the beauty of the town.


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The church of St. John the Baptist or the Church of Liliw is a red brick hilltop church. The Church of Lilio (Liliw) was originally under the ecclesiastical administration of the town of Nagcalang (present day Nagcarlan) until 1605. It was first made in wood in the 1620s and was rebuilt in stone in the years 1643-1646. The church was partially destroyed during the July 18, 1880 earthquake. The church and the convent were reconstructed in1885 but partially burned on April 6, 1898.

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The church has three levels Baroque façade with semi-circular arched main entrance. The red bricks are unevenly cut blocks in the main entrance and when you look up, you can see the bas relief of Jesus Christ’s baptism. The bell tower is three storey high covered by a dome and topped with a tower.

Inside the church, you will notice that the interior have red brick walls, mahogany and red brick ceiling, and I have noticed that the church still retains its old floors. It’s altar is also one of the most beautiful I have seen.

Inside the church, you will notice that the interior have red brick walls, mahogany and red brick ceiling, and I have noticed that the church still retains its old floors. It’s altar is also one of the most beautiful I have seen.

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Here are morning photographs of the church from Travel bookph (picture number 1), (pictures numbers 2 and 3) and from (for picture number 4)

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Magdalena Church

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The town of Magdalena, Laguna is a delightful discovery. We have reached the town at sunset and it is such a sight to behold. There is this old town charm and the laid-back feel at the town plaza. I am impressed with the width of the town center, its green surrounding, the nearby playground and the ever smiling and helpful residents. This pleasant town is the home of the St. Mary Magdalene Church, the Emilio Jacinto Shrine and beautiful old houses among others.

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The church was built in 1829 using forced labor. It has a sandstone façade and the hexagonal bell tower was built in 1861. The nearby convent was built in 1871-1872. There is also a white pulpit inside the church. You can hardly see it in my pictures because it was over-shadowed by a carrosa near it. I was not able to take a closer picture, because the 6PM Maundy Thursday mass was about to start.

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The Emilio Jacinto shrine is located on the way to the second floor, to what I suppose lead to the sacristy. I took the staircase as pointed out by the kind lady. I was looking for a glass case on the brick steps which was supposed to hold Jacinto’s bloodstains. What I saw was a marker with his supposed to be bolo and hat. Jacinto was brought to the church after he was mortally wounded on a battle against the Spaniards at the Maimpis River on February 1898. I wander on my own on the second floor looking for the Jacinto relic. And I just have to go down, since I landed on a veranda, which I think, I am not suppose to be there. So I went down, because I have no intention of meeting Emilio Jacinto personally.

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I am equally amazed by the size and the space of the town plaza. It complements the massive structure of the church, and the Town Hall is one of the nicest I have seen.

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Lumban Church

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Lumban or Lumbang was once the center of the Roman Catholic missionary activities in the province of Laguna. In 1578, Franciscan Father Juan de Plasencia built the first church of Lumban made of wood and thatch. After it was destroyed by fire, a stone church was built and completed in the 1600, making it the first stone church in the whole of Laguna. A rest house for sick Franciscan missionaries was also maintained in the church’s compound from 1606 to 1618. A regional school was also built by Father Juan de Santa Maria where 400 boys were taught liturgical hymns and how to play musical instruments.


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The church was badly damaged by the July 18, 1880 earthquake. By 1889, the church was provisionally repaired and the sacristy was restored. The church is an example of an early renaissance façade and its three-storey bell tower has a pointed roof. The Church of Lumban is under the patronship of St. Sebastian the Martyr.

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Paete Church

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The town of Paete was founded by Father Juan de Plasencia in 1580. The town’s church under the patronship of St. James the Great was built in stone in 1646, together with its convent. Like most of Philippine churches, it has its share of damages caused by fire or earthquake. The Church of Paete has undergone several renovations notably in 1717, 1840 and 1880. The church was rebuilt in 1884 under the administration of Father Pedro Gallano, but this late 19th century church was badly damaged by the earthquake of August 20, 1937. The church was renovated sometime in 1980 and was declared as a national historical site in 1981.

The church has a lavish and enormous Renaissance façade and considered to be the “most florid of Laguna churches.” It has floral motifs, arched main entrance and windows and the façade has a bas-relief of St. James defeating the Moors. The bell tower is Muslim inspired tower with terrace and a pointed dome.

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Inside the church is a treat. The floor still has its original baked tiles. The town of Paete is famous and celebrated for its skilled sculptors. The church takes pride of this talent as can be seen in the niches of the main altar and on the Stations of the Cross. The five golden retablos are made by local artist Bartolome Balatino. Please note that the main altar and the statutes were draped in purple because it was Maundy Thursday when I visited.

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I was also fascinated with the two paintings of St. Christopher. The first painting was presumably dated in the 1780 by an unknown artist. In this painting, the Saint was dark skinned with naked torso. According to stories, the Spanish friars did not like the sword with sea lion hilt, because it gave an impression that the saint was a pirate. On the other hand, the second painting was made by a Paeteño Bartolome Dans in the 19th century. In this painting, the saint was featured in European clothes during the 16th century. Other paintings made by Bartolome Dans include Purgatorio and Langit, Lupa and Impierno.

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Here’s the side facade of the church with the mountain view.

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Pakil Church

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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Pagsanjan Church

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Declared as the Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 2012, the Church of Pagsanjan dates back in 1687. From wood and nipa, the church was reconstructed in 1690 and was improved in 1853 and its transept was added in 1872. The Church has three-level early renaissance façade with semi-circular arched main entrance and choir loft window. It’s bell tower is three storey high with a dome on top. The church was badly damaged during World War II.

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The Church is the home of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe which dates back in 1688. The image was a gift from Mexico and was enshrined in the main altar. The image  was destroyed during the air raid of World War II. The Church’s marker states that “the Parish of Pagsanjan is the oldest Church in the entire Philippines under the patronship of Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

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Upon learning that the original image of the Our Lady of Gudalupe was destroyed during the air raid of March 15, 1945, the Mexican Catholics gifted the church with a life-sized image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The said image was made by Mexican sculptor Ramon Barreto. Another image was also carved by Manila sculptor Maximo Vicente.

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On the side of the Church is the Capilla del Tilma de Guadalupe. The image of San Juan Diego and the stone relic from the Tepeyec Hill in Mexico was enthroned in the chapel. Please note that during my visit, visitors were not allowed to take pictures of the Chapel beyond the designated area, so please bear with the limit of my picture. I am also attaching some close up pictures of the Chapel from the Church’s Facebook page. Additionally, the Chapel retained its old façade and flooring. One can also see on the wall, the vestments of the priests who hail from Pagsanjan.

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