2023: A Year that Was

 So here I am once again at the end of another year — looking forward on what’s to come and looking back on what happened. And what happened in Year 2023 was a LOT.


2023 is the year when I finally earned my Master’s degree, with flying colors to boot. I am now back to work but in a different office with a higher responsibility and increased stress. I admit that I was surprised to be given a higher position right after I finished grad school. “It is too early for me”, I said. But then I had no choice but to fulfill the tasks given to me.


Trying to Blog Again


After a very long hiatus and spotty updates on my blog, I decided to return to blogging this year. I was unsuccessful since I only posted [ins number] of articles this year both in Filipino Sojourner and Pinoy Informer.


I also ventured to vlogging by posting FB reels and revisiting my Youtube. I am still a newbie, however, that’s why my viewers are very few. I do hope that 2024 will be a good year for my vlogging journey. You can watch all my Reels on my FB page. Please follow me there too.


My Fatherhood Journey


I still struggle in being a good father. I have the tendency to snap and snarl whenever I lose my cool with my makukulit na kids.


Well, my kids had great achievements this year. They got awards at the end of the previous school year and they are doing well in the current school year. They also joined the church’s choir, which was hreat because it honed their talents.


Anime, Manga, Light Novels Galore


2024 is the year when I encountered great anime, manga, and light novel.


Top of my list is the light novel “Ascendance of the Bookworm”, which is now at the climax. It is enjoyable to read the rise of the MC from a lowly commoner to the top dog of their world.


Another anime that I enjoyed is “Tsukimichi: Moonlit Fantasy”. It is different from isekai where the MC was rejected by the goddess and had to live at the edge of the world. I enjoyed the anime so much that I even read its manga just to satisfy my cravings for it.


“Log Horizon” is another notable isekai. It followed the game trope but with an intriguing storyline. Too bad that its light novel is on hiatus for a long time already.


Other good anime, manga, light novel that enjoyed this year are:


Spice and Wolf (manga)

Hinamatsuri (anime)

Girls’ Last Tour (anime)

Bofuri (anime)

Spy Family (anime & manga)

Kubo Won't Let Me Be (manga)

Asobe Asobase (anime)



Let’s Go! Pokemon Go


My kids caught on to the Pokemon craze. They watched the TV show and played the card game. I also introduced them to the Pokemon game, which includes Pokemon Go.


I am glad that my kids enjoyed Pokemon, which I went gaga over too during high school.


Looking Forward for 2024


The incoming year will surely be challenging but full of blessings. I hope and pray that God will continue to guode and protect me.


Happy new year everyone!

Tsukimichi: Moonlit Fantasy - not Your Typical Isekai

 I am currently hooked on the isekai genre wherein the main character is sent to another world one way or another. The main character or MC is usually sent after being hit by a vehicle, particularly “truck-kun”.

My current “addiction” to this genre was caused by “That Time I was Reincarnated as a Slime”. For this isekai the MC was stabbed, died, and then reincarnated as an overpowered slime. I enjoyed watching the MC slime grow in power, gather followers of different races, build a kingdom, and become the most powerful in the world. I caught on the latest episode and I cannot wait for the next season so I moved on to reading the unofficially translated light novel.

My interest with the isekai genre actually started way back during childhood with the anime “The Vision of Escaflowne”. Then there is Fushigi Yuugi.

My current isekai rage brought me to very good to very bad anime, manga, and light novels. I consider very bad isekai the ones where harem is very blatant (Farming in another World), have MCs with disgusting morality (I’m looking at you pedo MC of Moshoku Tensei), and very cringey or boring MC or plot (Re: Zero). The very good ones in my opinion include Ascendance of the Bookworm, Tanya the Evil, Tensei Slime, Overly Cautious Hero, Campfire Cooking in Another World - and recently - Tsukumichi: Moonlit Fantasy.

Tsukumichi: Moonlit Fantasy is about a high schooler whisked away by a god to be the hero of a world ruled by a goddess. The fickle goddess rejected the MC due to his “ugly” (actually average) looks and threw him away to the edge of the world inhabited by demi-humans. He gained strong allies - the invincible dragon and the Spider of Calamity - by overpowering them. The story progresses with him expanding his influence from the edge of the world to the lands of the humans ruled by the petty goddess.

I say that Tsukumichi is not the typical isekai because of the lack of harem and the MC is not interested in building one. Another is that the MC doesn’t flaunt his power despite being OP. Another positive point about this isekai is the world-building which drives the story forward. This is so unlike other isekai that only focused on the overpowered MC and ignored the society, economy, and the environment where the story is unfolding.

What truly caught my attention is the interaction of the MC with other characters and his actions for every challenge. He is protective with his people just like Rimuru of Slime Isekai but not quesy in murdering those who threaten their peace.

Another positive point is that the MC is OP but not too OP to the point that he cannot be killed. This gives the story the tension that it needs to make it thrilling. 

The MC is also weak in other areas (i.e. lack of knowledge of the new world) that makes his supporters relevant since they can truly provide help to the isekai in areas where he is lacking.

The different factions also provide spice to the story because of their tensions with one another. The demon army vs humans. Then there is discrimination against demi-humans by humans. There is also the anti-goddess faction who reject the goddess but still hate demi-humans. And the biggest tension is between the MC and the goddess.

There are more tidbits in the manga that I enjoy and when collected as one makes Tsukimichi as an isekai worth of my time.

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Experiencing Laguna (Part 1): Rizal Monument and a Peek at the History of Biñan

 Our family usually goes to the City of Biñan because of its palengke. Biñan's marketplace or palengke is much bigger and offers cheaper options compared to those in Cabuyao or Santa Rosa. It is the "bagsakan" of vegetables and fruits, which are the items that are on the priority list of My Beloved Wife. That’s why if you ask our kids what they think of Biñan then the palengke will be on the top of their mind. 

There is more to Biñan than its palengke because it is a town that is strongly connected to the Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal. We discovered this connection when we saw Jose Rizal’s school near the palengke. Biñan fosters this connection by featuring a Rizal Monument in Biñan Plaza, which is located at the center of the poblacion.

I brought my kids to Biñan Plaza one time while we were waiting for My Beloved Wife to finish her visit to the market.

Rizal Monument of Biñan with the lberto House in the background
Rizal Monument and the Alberto Mansion in the background.

Standing prominently in the park is the golden statue of Jose Rizal.

Rizal Monument of Biñan


This is the same statue that was beheaded in 2015 after being hit by lightning. Good thing that the Biñan City Government prioritized restoring Rizal’s statue to its former glory.

This statue was once considered as the tallest Jose Monument in the Philippines. However, that title was taken by Santa Cruz, Laguna when a 7.9-meter bronze Jose Rizal statue was erected in that town in 2014. Calamba later on took over the title when it built its new Jose Rizal Monument with the height of 13 meters.

Biñan’s Rizal Monument may no longer hold  its record as the tallest but it certainly holds the title of being one of the oldest monuments dedicated to the national hero. It was said to be more than 100 years old and was sculpted by Guillermo Tolentino.

On the pedestal are the words "AL DR. JOSE RIZAL EL PUEBLO DE BIÑANG EN CUMPLIMIENTO DE SU DEBER"

The text read in English as: "To Dr. Jose Rizal, the people of Biñan fulfill their duty." I relied on Google Translate so I am not sure if it's the correct translation.

At the foot of the pedestal are statues of ladies — who are not the statues of Jose Rizal's love interests but the muses typically depicted in artworks.

Lady Justice at Rizal Monument of Biñan

The history of Biñan's Rizal Monument is also written at the foot of the pedestal.

The plaque says that Biñan's Rizal Monument was finished on May 14, 1918 and cost about 4,000 pesos. The building of the monument was led by Jose M. Rizal, who was a relative of the National Hero.

Biñan boasts of a personal connection to Jose Rizal because this is the hometown of his father and mother. In fact, the house where Teodora Alonso, Jose’s mother, spent her teenage years just across Biñan Plaza is now called the Alberto Mansion. I was not aware that that old house is a very important heritage structure. Unfortunately, Teodora Alonso’s house was almost destroyed by a private company who planned to demolish it. The house was saved by the city government but it was not restored to its original form.

The Alberto Mansion is claimed to be the place where Jose Rizal’s parents met. Jose’s father lived just across the Alberto Mansion, which is said to be the place where the Biñan Market now stands.  

There are other interesting spots in Biñan Plaza. Facing Rizal's Monument is the stage known as Los Maduros Bandstand, so named because its construction was made possible by the donation by Los Maduros Club.

Los Maduros Club of Biñan


This is also considered as a local heritage site and serves as the platform for cultural events and other social activities. The stage is said to be unique because it looked like the front of a "bakya" or wooden clog, which was the main product of Biñan.

The Los Maduros Club is a civic organization established in 1947. The club conducted community services and infrastructure projects in Biñan. The city government exerted efforts to revive this defunct club as part of their goal for the cultural revival of Biñan.

The Los Maduros Bandstand is embellished with statues depicting the rural life in Biñan.

Rural Life in Biñan

The city government also made efforts to preserve the heritage houses and structures surrounding Biñan Plaza aside from the Alberto Mansion.

Heritage Houses of Biñan

San Isidro Labrador Church, which is Biñan's oldest church, is just across the plaza.

San Isidro Labrador Church of Biñan

Biñan is fortunate to have city leaders who are aware of the importance of culture and history. Preserving the city's cultural heritage is one of the best gifts that they can give to the citizens of Biñan and the future generations.

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References:

1. Century-old Rizal monument in Laguna 'beheaded' by lightning by Inquirer.Net

2. Rizal's Tallest Monument by Calamba City Government

3. Laguna erects world’s tallest Rizal statue by Inquirer.Net

4. Experience Biñan: Plaza Rizal now a tourist magnet by Opinyon Laguna

5. Biñan City Culture, History, Arts and Tourism Office

6. Araw ng Biñan inaugurates new Plaza Rizal by Property Report PH

7. The Families of Old Binan, Laguna I by Remembrance of Things Awry

8. Biñan wins 10-year fight over house of Rizal’s mother by Inquirer.Net



SM Makati Chapel Mass Schedule

SM Makati Chapel


The chapel in SM Makati is the church that I always visit whenever I am in the area of SM Makati or Glorietta. This chapel is conveniently located near the MRT-Ayala Station that’s why it was very easy for me to visit this church whenever I am in the area.

The convenient location is one of the reasons why many people pass by this chapel. Many of the churchgoers are mall employees and other employees in Makati Central Business District 9CBD0, who usually commute via the MRT or the buses in Ayala One.

SM Makati Chapel is officially known as Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Chapel since it is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. I posted about this chapel during the Holy Week for the virtual Visita Iglesia 2023.

If you wish to end a Holy Mass in SM Makati Chapel, here is the schedule of the masses:

SM Makati Chapel Mass Schedule
(Source: SM Makati Chapel FB page)

Monday to Friday: 12:15 PM and 6 PM

Saturday: 12:15 PM, 4 PM, and 6 PM

Sunday: 10:30 AM, 12 noon, 4 PM, and 6 PM


Take note that the 4 PM and 6 PM masses on Saturday are anticipated masses.

The 6 PM masses on Monday to Saturday and the 12 noon mass on Sunday are live streamed in SM Makati Chapel's FB page and Youtube channel.

If you want more information regarding the SM Makati Chapel, I suggest that you visit their FB page.

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Ano ang Ginagawa sa Binyag?

May mga tanong ka ba tungkol sa binyag? Tanungin mo ako sa pamamagitan ng pag-follow sa aking Facebook page at pag-iwan ng comment o message.

Ang binyag ang pinakamahalagang Sakramento dahil ito ang pintuan upang maging kaanib ng Simbahang Katolika. Kaya naman ang Sakramentong ito ay ibinibigay sa mga sanggol upang sila ay maging kaanib na sa Simbahan kahit sila ay musmos pa lamang.



Ang binyag ay isinasagawa sa pamamagitan ng pagbuhos ng Banal na Tubig (Holy Water) habang binabanggit ang Ngalan ng Ama, Anak, at ng Espiritu Santo. Ang simbolo ng binyag sa isang tao ay paghuhugas ng Orihinal na Kasalanan na namana ng sangkatauhan mula kina Adan at Eba.

Maliban sa Banal na Tubig ay may iba pang simbolo na ginagamit sa binyag at isa na dito ang kandila. Ang simbolo ng kandila sa binyag ay liwanag na gagabay sa bata sa kanyang paglaki. Ang mga kandila ay hawak ng mga magulang, ninong, at ninang dahil sila ang gagabay sa bata patungo sa Diyos.

Sino ang Pwedeng Maging Ninong at Ninang

Maliban sa mga magulang ng batang bibinyagan ay dapat kasama din ang magiging ninong at ninong mg bata sa seremonyas ng binyag.

Ang tanong ay sino ang pwedeng maging ninong at ninang?

Ang tungkulin ng ninong at ninang ay maging pangalawang magulang ng kanilang inaanak. Sila ang mag-aakay sa bata patungo kay Hesus. Kaya ang dapat maging ninong at ninang ay dapat isang Katoliko na nasa wastong gulang.

Pwede pa ring mag-ninong o ninang ang hindi Katoliko pero dapat may Katolikong ninong at Katolikong ninang sa mga listahan ng ninong at ninang.

Ilang ba dapat ang ninong at ninang? Pwede nang isang ninong at isang ninang lang ang kunin para sa binyag.

Ano ang Ginagawa ng Ninong at Ninang sa Binyag?

Simple lang ang tungkulin ng ninong at ninang sa araw ng binyag at iyon ay ang kanilang pagdalo sa mismong seremonyas ng binyag.

Heto ang mga ginagawa ng ninong at ninang sa binyag:

1. Sumagot sa tanong ng pari patungkol sa pagtanggap nila ng tungkulin bilang ninong at ninang.

2. Mag-antanda ng krus sa noo ng inaanak.

3. Sumagot sa mga tanong patungkol sa pagtakwil kay Satanas, kanyang mga gawa, at mga kasalanan.

4. Sumagot sa mga tanong sa paniniwala sa Ama, Jesus, at Banal na Espiritu bilang Diyos.

5. Paghawak ng kandila na sumisimbolo sa liwanag ng pananampalataya ng batang bininyagan.

Hindi kasama sa tungkulin ng ninong at ninang ang magbigay ng regalo o pakimkim sa bininyagan. Ito ay naging tradisyon na lang ng mga Pilipino.

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Ang binyag ay isang importante at banal na sakramento ng Simbahan. Ang mga ninong at ninang ay mahalagang bahagi ng sakramento na ito.

Dapat ang binyag pinahahalagahan at ang pagkuha ng ninong at ninang ay pinag-iisipan para ikabubuti ng bibinyagan.
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Visita Iglesia (2023): Quiapo Church (Manila)

Today is Black Saturday, the day when the superstitious people believe that Jesus is dead. The truth is that this was the day when Jesus descended to Hades to free the worthy souls and brought them to heaven.

The death of Jesus on the cross is not the end but rather a beginning of our salvation. So for the 7th and last day of my virtual Visita Iglesia, I believe that it is good to look at Quiapo Church and the big statue John the Baptist outside of it.


Saint John the Baptist at Quiapo Church


John preceded the Lord and prepared the way of Jesus by proclaiming: "I am a voice crying out in the desert, 'Make straight the way of the Lord.'". I believe that the message is still true even until now. We Christians must make straight the way of the Lord so that he can do wonders in our life. We should straighten ourselves up and prepare for the resurrection of the Lord in our hearts.


Saint John the Baptist at Quiapo Church


The statue of John shows as if he was preaching to the people outside of Quiapo Church. He is shouting at the den of unholy things such as pamparegla, manghuhula, and anting-anting. These unholy things are displayed side-by-side with the images of Nazareno, Mama Mary, Santo Niño, rosaries, and images of saints.


Saint John the Baptist at Quiapo Church


Quiapo Church is the most popular church in Manila because of the thousands of devotees to the Black Nazarene.


Quiapo Church, Manila


What I like about Quiapo Church is the daily schedule for confession. I also regularly drop by their Adoration Chapel before the pandemic.


For more of my story, read about my previous Visita Iglesia in Quiapo Church.

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Visita Iglesia is a Catholic tradition of visiting seven or fourteen churches during Maundy Thursday. For each day, this Holy Week, I will feature one church as a sort of virtual Visita Iglesia.

Read about the churches that I visited this year

Palm Sunday: Immaculate Conception Church in Concepcion Uno, Marikina

Holy Monday: Santo Niño de Paz Chapel in Greenbelt, Makati

Fig Tuesday: Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Chapel in SM Makati

Spy Wednesday: Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

Maundy Thursday: Saint John Paul II Chapel in NAIA Terminal 3

Good Friday: Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo, Manila

Black Saturday: Quiapo Church in Manila
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Visita Iglesia (2023): Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz (Binondo, Manila)

Good Friday is the day when we commemorate the suffering and death of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Now, a certain Philippine president ridiculed Jesus because he let Himself be crucified. That president, who only knows of worldly power, is ignorant of the power of Jesus' sacrifice. Through his sacrifice many Christians were inspired and strengthened to take up their cross, face persecution, and die like Him. One of such men who saw the power of Jesus on the cross is San Lorenzo Ruiz and I will be featuring his shrine in Binondo for the fifth day of my virtual Visita Iglesia.

Binondo Church

San Lorenzo Ruiz is a son of a Chinese convert and a native Filipina Catholic. His life is intimately connected with Binondo Church because he served as a sacristan, educated by Dominican friars, joined the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary and became a clerk of the church.

In 1636, he was falsely accused of murdering a Spanish tax collector. To escape the Spanish colonial authorities, Lorenzo joined the Dominicans in their mission to Japan. He left his wife and children without realizing that he will never see them again.

Lorenzo and companions arrived in Japan in the period of extreme persecution under the Tokugawa Shogunate. They were captured, imprisoned for two years, and then were sent to Nishizaka Hill in Nagasaki to be tortured to death.

The Martyrdom of San Lorenzo Ruiz
(Source: AnaStPaul)

Lorenzo and his companions experienced painful forms of torture, such as waterboarding and insertion of bamboo needles under fingernails. Those who managed to stay alive during the ordeal were made to undergo the tsurushi — an execution method in which the victim is hanged upside down then lowered into a pit filled with excrement. The temple of the victim is cut so as to break their will or eventually kill them. Those who apostatized or denied Jesus Christ were released.

Lorenzo Ruiz did not betray our Lord. He even told his torturer these words: "I am a Catholic and I wholeheartedly accept death for God. If I had a thousand lives, I would offer them all to Him".

Lorenzo Ruiz followed the path of martyrdom as his Lord. A common man bore his heavy cross and in the end he received the crown of glory from his Master and Lord.


San Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo Church

The current parish priest of Binondo said in his homilies that those in Binondo are fortunate because they walk in the aisle where San Lorenzo Ruiz once walked. They looked at the same altar where the first Filipino saint once served.

Binondo Church before the Renovation
Binondo Church before the renovation.

Binondo Church was recently renovated and looks a little different to how it looked many years ago.

The facade was fixed and was highlighted with red paint.

Renovated Binondo Church

The interior was also renovated. The old gray color scheme was replaced by somewhat pinkish palette.

Interior of Binondo Church

The altar was also repainted.

Altar of Binondo Church

My favorite painting of Saint Michael on the ceiling above the altar is still there and the other paintings on the ceilings were also restored.

Painting of the Glorious Mysteries on the ceiling of Binondo Church

At the side of the church is the image of Nuestra Señora del Pronto Socorro or Our Lady of Prompt Succor. This Marian image is not only a religious relic but also a cultural treasure. According to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), the image of Nuestra Señora del Pronto Socorro is believed to be the remaining painting of a Chinese artisan dating to the 16th Century.

Nuestra Señora del Pronto Socorro

Nuestra Señora del Pronto Socorro was first venerated in the Church of the Holy Kings in the first parian or Chinatown of Manila, which is located in the area occupied by the Manila Central Post Office and Metropolitan Theater. The Marian was later transferred to Binondo Church in 1598.

Our Lady of Prompt Succor

The Chinese who painted the Marian image copied the European version but integrated it with Oriental artistic style. The face of Mary in this image is more Chinese than European. The arrangement of Mary's cape is similar to that of Chinese goddess Kuan Yin.

We can say that the Binondo Church's Nuestra Señora del Pronto Socorro is a fusion of European and Chinese art styles.

Nuestra Señora del Pronto Socorro
(Source: Encyclopedia of PH Art)

The Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz is steeped in history. I already talked about the old Chinese tombs in the church, particularly of Juan Dionicio Coqua. A look at the floor at the entrance of Binondo Church and you will see the broken tombstones or piedra china.

Broken Chinese Tombstones in Binondo Church

Binondo Church is a testament of the victory of the Lord through his martyrs. The sacrifices made by our Lord on the cross strengthened Christians like San Lorenzo Ruiz. The horrible and shameful death of our Lord, which is ridiculed by many, is actually the source of strength that brings many people to heaven. May all us emulate San Lorenzo by cleaving to our Lord even if we are persecuted or even at the point of death.

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Visita Iglesia is a Catholic tradition of visiting seven or fourteen churches during Maundy Thursday. For each day, this Holy Week, I will feature one church as a sort of virtual Visita Iglesia.

Read about the churches that I visited this year

Palm Sunday: Immaculate Conception Church in Concepcion Uno, Marikina

Holy Monday: Santo Niño de Paz Chapel in Greenbelt, Makati

Fig Tuesday: Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Chapel in SM Makati

Spy Wednesday: Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

Maundy Thursday: Saint John Paul II Chapel in NAIA Terminal 3

Good Friday: Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo, Manila

Black Saturday: Quiapo Church in Manila

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References:







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Visita Iglesia (2023): Saint John Paul II Chapel (NAIA Terminal 3, Pasay City)

Saint John Paul II Chapel in NAIA Terminal 3

Tucked beside the stairs in NAIA Terminal 3 is a place that I make sure to visit before I board the airplane. That place with a small space is none other than the Saint John Paul II Chapel of NAIA Terminal 3.

Saint John Paul II Chapel in NAIA Terminal 3

The Airport Chapel was established as a tribute to Pope John Paul II. I am not sure why they chose to dedicate the chapel the Pope. My only guess is that since Pope John Paul II is the pope that has most number of visits to the Philippines then that means that he has the most number of times of arriving and departing NAIA of all the Popes. 

Despite its small size, many people visit this chapel even in the wee hours of the morning. Air travelers, airport personnel, airplane cabin crew — I saw them all dropping by this chapel to pray and ask the Lord for safe flight.

Altar of Saint John Paul II Chapel in NAIA Terminal 3

My usual prayer whenever I go to this chapel is to ask the Lord for my safe journey, and also the safety of my family and loved ones who I will leave behind as I sojourn in other places.

There are images of Jesus, Mary, and other saints in many areas of NAIA Terminal 3 where people can pray to the Lord or ask the saints’ intercession. I, however, prefer going to Airport Chapel because it is a quiet place to pray.

Saint Camillus de Lellis in Saint John Paul II Chapel in NAIA Terminal 3

I am thankful to the airport management for giving a space for a chapel inside NAIA Terminal 3. It is spiritually soothing for those in the airport who wish to pray and converse with the Lord before they fly.

For those who are looking for a church to pray before boarding the airplane, I recommend Shrine of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus that is just across the street from NAIA Terminal 3. I also recommend Our Lady of the Airways Church, which is also in the vicinity of the airport.

- - -

Visita Iglesia is a Catholic tradition of visiting seven or fourteen churches during Maundy Thursday. For each day, this Holy Week, I will feature one church as a sort of virtual Visita Iglesia.

Read about the churches that I visited this year

Palm Sunday: Immaculate Conception Church in Concepcion Uno, Marikina

Holy Monday: Santo Niño de Paz Chapel in Greenbelt, Makati

Fig Tuesday: Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Chapel in SM Makati

Spy Wednesday: Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

Maundy Thursday: Saint John Paul II Chapel in NAIA Terminal 3

Good Friday: Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo, Manila

Black Saturday: Quiapo Church in Manila

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Visita Iglesia (2023): Santa Rosa de Lima Church (Santa Rosa, Laguna)

R

During the Second World War, when Japanese soldiers ravaged the land, residents of the lowlands of Laguna claimed that a lady in black and white appeared to them and told them to seek refuge in the town of Santa Rosa. They said that the lady told them that they will not go hungry because rice and fish are plentiful in the town of Santa Rosa. Upon reaching Santa Rosa, they realized that the lady who talked to them is Santa Rosa de Lima, who is the patron saint of the town. This story is just one of the miracles of Santa Rosa de Lima for the residents of the town named after her.

Statue of Santa Rosa de Lima Church at Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

Santa Rosa de Lima Church is the oldest church in Santa Rosa City. In fact, the church’s history is intimately connected to the city's history because the church was established with the town.

Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

Santa Rosa de Lima Church, just like in the typical old towns of the Philippines, is located at the center of the town beside the plaza and the government buildings. The church is now partially covered by Santa Rosa City’s Rizal Park.

Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

The church started as a visita of Bucol, which is the old name of Santa Rosa when it was still a barrio of Biñan. The construction of the current church structure began in 1790 by the Spanish Dominican friars, who recruited Chinese laborers for the project. It is claimed that the old Chinese families in Santa Rosa descended from these Chinese laborers.

Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

The construction was finished in 1792 and the Dominican friars selected Santa Rosa de Lima, also a Dominican, as the patroness of the new parish. Simultaneously, Barrio Bucol was also made a new municipio or municipality of Santa Rosa on January 18, 1792.

Bicentennial Plaque of Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

The first Mass honoring Santa Rosa de Lima in the new church was done on August 30, 1812 by Fray Francisco Favie, who was the first parish priest of the new town. August 30 is formerly the feast day for Santa Rosa de Lima.

I felt the centuries of history when I visited Santa Rosa de Lima Church. It is clear by just looking at its exterior that it is a very old church. The walls are of adobe blocks, which is similar to the ones used in the much older Saint Polycarp Church in Cabuyao. However, unlike the Cabuyao Church with a big bell tower, Santa Rosa de Lima Church has a smaller and less prominent bell tower.

Bell tower of Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

I read that Santa Rosa de Lima Church has 8 majestic bells, with each of them having their own name.

The facade is made of gray adobe blocks, which is typical of the churches made during the Spanish period.

Facade of Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

The facade features the four Evangelists and other saints. I think at the top is the image of the Virgin Mary.

San Juan and San Marcos at Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

In front of the church is the statue of Santa Rosa de Lima flanked by the statues of Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Martin de Porres, and two other saints.

Statue of Santa Rosa de Lima at Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

The statues of Santa Rosa and other saints were erected to commemorate the visits of two ambassadors of Peru. The first Peruvian ambassador who visited was Victor Aritomi-Shinto in 1999 and the second one was Julio Cardenas in 2000.

Commeration plaque for the visit of Peruvian Ambassadors to Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

The church’s door is simple, not as ornate as the ones in Manila Cathedral or San Agustin Church in Intramuros.

Door of Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

The church is cavernous and much spacious compared to Balibago Church.

Inside Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

What immediately caught my attention upon entrance to the church are the tombstones on the wall.

Tomb of Perfecta Custodio in Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

I consider tombstones on the wall as proof that a church is old. The practice of burial of the dead inside the church was a common practice during the Spanish Period. Such practice was discontinued during the American Period when the Americans instituted their health and sanitary laws that prohibited burial of the dead within the church premises.

The oldest tombstone that I saw is dated March 28, 1898.

Tomb of Marcella Caballo de Perlas in Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

It is Holy Week when I visited so all of the images, excluding the Crucified Jesus, are veiled. 

Altar of Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

What’s interesting is that the parish kept the altar rails in front of the altar. The rails are used to separate the pews from the holiest part of the church.

Altar and rails of Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

Another purpose of the rails is this is where the faithful kneel to receive the Holy Communion. Note of the kneelers in front of the altar rails.

The painting of the four Evangelists on the ceiling reminded of the similar painting in St. Polycarp Church of Cabuyao.

Painting of the 4 Evangelists of Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

On the side ceiling are the paintings of the apostles.

Paintings of the Apostles of Jesus in Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

At the end of the ceiling is the image of Judas Iscariote. The word “Iscariote” was painted over but I can still read it. 

Painting of San Juan and Judas Iscariote in Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

The image is definitely of the traitor because it is the only whose name is not preceded by an S., which is the abbreviation for the Spanish word "San" or saint in English. I guess this is the only church where Judas Iscariot was depicted positively.

The current paintings on the ceiling are not the original ones. It is said that the original paintings were great attractions from 1923 to 1960. The said paintings, which featured the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Coronation of the Apostles, San Roque, and other Biblical scenes and saints, are comparable to the ceiling paintings of Quiapo Church. The original paintings were removed because they were destroyed by old age and bats. The only original paintings that remained are those of King David and Saint Cecilia at the choir loft. I do hope that these remaining paintings will be preserved.

The old paintings were replaced by the modern giant electric fans!

At the side is the spiral staircase to the choir loft.

Spiral Staircase of Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

Sadly, the caretakers of the church did not permit to climb up the stairs to have good look of the choir loft and the remaining original paintings.

The church also has the baptistry that has a marble baptismal font, an image of Jesus holding a thurible, Santo Entierro, and the veiled replica of the Pieta.

Things inside the Baptistry of Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

My visit to Santa Rosa de Lima Church was just short. But in that brief time I felt the intensity of history that the church represents. The church of Santa Rosa de Lima is the witness to the birth of the town, its sufferings during wars, and its growth into a city that touts itself as the Lion City of the South.

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Visita Iglesia is a Catholic tradition of visiting seven or fourteen churches during Maundy Thursday. For each day, this Holy Week, I will feature one church as a sort of virtual Visita Iglesia.

Read about the churches that I visited this year

Palm Sunday: Immaculate Conception Church in Concepcion Uno, Marikina

Holy Monday: Santo Niño de Paz Chapel in Greenbelt, Makati

Fig Tuesday: Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Chapel in SM Makati

Spy Wednesday: Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Santa Rosa, Laguna

Maundy Thursday: Saint John Paul II Chapel in NAIA Terminal 3

Good Friday: Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo, Manila

Black Saturday: Quiapo Church in Manila


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References:

1. A Brief History: The Santa Rosa de Lima Catholic Church in the Santa Rosa de Lima Parish

2. Santa Rosa City Laguna: Lion City of the South

3. City Government of Santa Rosa, Laguna

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