Around two hours left before 12 noon but we were still not halfway through our pilgrimage to Baclaran Church. Our group just crossed the train tracks of the Philippines National Railways (PNR) at Blumentritt but we still have miles to go.
|F4L pilgrimage route from Blumentritt to Binondo.|
Our next stop was the Shrine of the Holy Spirit (Dambana ng Espiritu Santo) located in Manila’s Santa Cruz District. I'm glad that I managed to enter this church but the crowd prevented me from taking good photos.
I believe that it is a beautiful church. The painting at the altar depicts the descent of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost. The scene depicted by the painting is very apt for the shrine because it is the event when the Holy Spirit emboldened the first Christians.
The crowd prevented us to pray a decade of the Holy Rosary so we just chose a spot in front of Mama Mary's image outside of the church.
We used the LRT stations to mark our progress. We even stopped at each station to pose for photos.
My experiences in Manila taught me to expect street children on the streets. There are plenty of them in Manila and I saw some of them during the pilgrimage.
It would be wrong to lump these kids as “children” of the poor people of Manila. I know that each street kid has a unique story. Some might even be a son or daughter of a well-to-do family. Nonetheless, it is not good for them to stay away from their families. Where are their parents?
Another common scenery on Manila's streets is the perpetually under renovation streets.
AJ commented that this portion of Rizal Avenue was also under renovation during their pilgrimage last year. Does that mean that they renovate this portion of the avenue every year? What a waste of taxpayers' money.
We quicken our steps. We knew that noon is near and we want to reach Binondo by that time. Our next stop would be Quiapo Church.
Our group finally reached Recto Avenue around 11 AM. I was glad to finally reach a familiar place.
Recto Avenue was once a busy commercial hub. The place has theaters, malls and bustling commercial center. Its golden age occurred during the time when Escolta and Binondo were the commercial center of the country. Recto Avenue fell to disrepute and this place is now known as the place where people can get fake Ids, fake diplomas, fake birth certificates and other fake documents.
Quiapo Church is just a short walk from Recto Avenue. Unfortunately, the church is very crowded but that is not surprising. Quiapo Church houses the image of the Black Nazarene, which has millions of devotees. It is no wonder that this church is crowded to the max.
With no place to stop for praying, our group decided to go to the nearby Santa Cruz Church.
It was my first time to see Santa Cruz again since the day I went back from Thailand. The white paint of the church's exterior was now replaced by brown (or orange) tiles. Santa Cruz Church is still under renovation during our visit.
After our prayers, we entered Binondo Chinatown and walked along Ongpin Street to reach Binondo Church.
Ongpin Street is the main street of Binondo Chinatown. Many people go here for the food (Chinese restaurants here have excellent dishes), or for history (this Chinatown is the oldest in the world) or just for taking photos.
Binondo Chinatown is the place where Christianity and Chinese cultures meet. A golden cross along this street is a testament this “clash of cultures”. People light up joss sticks at this cross instead of candles, which are the usually found in regular Christian spots.
We finally reached Binondo Church and said our prayers. Noon had just passed and our belly is rumbling. We are in the right time to visit a Chinese restaurant highly recommended by our group leader.