I got a chance to revisit some of the beautiful churches in southern Manila few weeks ago. Although we originally planned to visit Bulacan, something came up so we had to make some adjustments and we ended up doing our Visita Iglesia in Manila. I already visited most of the churches in this list from my previous pilgrimages in Manila except for three – the San Roque de Pasay parish, the Paco Church, and the San Beda Abbey.
Manila might be the commercial center in the country where you can spot malls from one corner to another but it actually hides some old and beautiful churches. The Intramuros, for instance, will take you back in time as it feature some wonderfully preserve architecture. Out of the seven old churches of Intramuros, only two manage to survive – the Manila Cathedral and the San Agustin Parish. Technically, only the San Agustin Parish survived the war but they managed to bring the Cathedral back to its former glory.
Our target was to complete the 14 churches in South Manila but we ended up with 13 churches. Without further ado, here are the 13 churches in South Manila that we visited during the Holy Week.
1. Saint Joseph Parish/ Bamboo Organ Church in Las Piñas
I was able to visit this parish just few weeks before this pilgrimage and I will blog more about it soon. You’ve probably read or heard about the famous Bamboo Organ Church from your elementary text books and it is always a great experience to witness the bamboo organ in its wonderfully preserved condition. What makes it better is when you see an actual pianist working with the organ. The church was established on November 5, 1795 under the Augustinian Recollects priests headed by Fray Diego Cera. Here’s a video from my recent visit in Saint Joseph Parish.
2. Santuario de San Ezekiel Moreno in Las Piñas
Not too far from the Bamboo Organ Church is the Santuario de San Ezekiel Moreno. The last time i went to this church was way back in 2015. While it is nice to see how the church kept its beauty for many years, we didn’t have a nice experience during our visit. Compared to my last visit, the guards here were quite unwelcoming for some reason. Also, I find it weird that you are not allowed to take photos of their stunning altar if you’re using a decent camera. They allow you to take photos using your cellphone camera and only on certain angle. Anyway, we’re not here to take photos after all. Unlike the Bamboo Organ Church, Santuario De San Ezekiel Moreno is relatively new yet the size of it is extremely magnificent.
Read more: Santuario de San Ezekiel Moreno in Las Piñas
3. Saint Andrew Cathedral in Parañaque
The last time i went to Saint Andrew Cathedral was way back in 2016. Commonly referred to as the Parañaque Cathedral, it is considered to be one of the oldest churches in the country. The church was established in 1580 and administered by the Spanish Augustinian Friars. It is dedicated under the patronage of Saint Andrew the Apostle but is also enshrines the image of Nuestra Señora del Buen Suceso (Our Lady of Good Success), the Patroness of the City of Parañaque.
4. National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual/ Baclaran Church
Although i frequent this church a lot, this will be my first visit to Baclaran Church ever since the pandemic started. The National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help or also known as the Redemptionist Church or colloquially known as the Baclaran Church is one of the largest Marian Churches here in the Philippines. On January 1958, the Philippine hierarchy officially declared the Baclaran Church to be the National Shrine of the Mother of Perpetual Help.
Read More: Exploring the Baclaran Church
5. Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Pasay
I was able to visit Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Pasay in 2016 when we tried to complete the “Jubilee Pilgrim Passport” because the church was assigned as one of the Jubilee Churches in Manila that year. Our Lady Of Sorrows Parish is established in 1941 by the Society of St. Paul. As you can see, the building is not that old but it actually has a huge historical significance. This is the church where Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino and Corazon Aquino was married in 1953. They even took former President Ramon Magsaysay as one of their principal sponsors. The church’s altar that enshrines a beautiful La Pieta, however, is currently under renovation.
Read More: Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Pasay
6. San Roque Parish in Pasay
This is my first time to visit San Roque de Pasay Parish. Despite the simple and seemingly modern-looking facade, the church welcomes you with a stunning and unique interior. On August 28, 1951, Bishop Gabriel Reyes, Archbishop of Manila, declared the establishment of San Roque Church. Starting 2002, the fiesta was celebrated only on the Sunday after August 16. A major church renovation was also begun in 2002. Father Armand, a UP Fine Arts graduate, was responsible for the architectural and interior design. I personally find those beautifully ornate beams unique.
7. San Fernando de Dilao Parish in Paco, Manila
Another first on my list is the Paco Church. The church is dedicated under the patronage of the Castillian king saint Fernando III de Castilla y León. The church inside is notable for its Romanesque-Byzantine interior with recently Italian Baroque styled altar, most notably the Latin inscriptions similar in style to Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The first church was established in 1580 and was rebuilt in 1599. It is also very notable for its tall twin belfry. Not too far from this area is the well-known Paco Park and Cemetery
8. Our Lady of Remedies Parish in Malate
Malate Church is another popular and historically significant church in Manila. I was able to visit the parish six years ago. The church is under the patronage of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios (“Our Lady of Remedies”). It was built in 1588, making it one of the oldest churches in Manila. The miraculous image of the Virgen de los Remedios was brought from Spain by Fr. Juan de Guevara and since then, the devotion to the Virgin Mary made Malate a very famous sanctuary. The church went numerous restoration and renovation. It was utterly destroyed by an earthquake in 1645, demolished in 1667 due to the threat posed by the pirate Koxinga. Through the centuries, the Malate Church has been a silent witness to Philippine history having survived the Chinese invasion of 1662, the British occupation of the church in 1762, the Great Earthquake of 1863, and the World War II bombings in February 1945 during the liberation of Manila.
Read More: The Malate Church
9. Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Guidance in Ermita
Just like Malate Church, the last time i went to Ermita Church was in 2016. Ermita Shrine or formally known as the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Guidance enshrines the image of Nuestra Señora De Guia (Our Lady of Guidance) which is considered as the oldest Marian image in the Philippines. Although it may not look that old, the Ermita Shrine is already four century old. The church began as a rustic shrine made of bamboo, nipa, and molave wood that was built to house the image of Our Lady of Guidance. The shrine eventually became a chapel built in 1606 as house for the image and was called La Ermita (A Spanish term which simply means “The Chapel). They said that the original image of the Lady was actually brought by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 and was given as a gift to Rajah Humabon, whose realm included what is now Cebu City. The image was canonically crowned on Rizal Day, December 30, 1955 while the church was granted Archdiocesan Shrine status in 2005.
10. Archdiocesan Shrine of Espiritu Santo
I was able to visit this church in 2019 during our Photowalk in Binondo. The church is located along Tayuman Street in Santa Cruz, Manila. In 1913, a public cemetery where the church now stands, was closed due to health concerns. Espiritu Santo Parish was established on December 19, 1926. Although the church was situated along the busy street of Tayuma and while it only features limited space outside, it will wlecome you with a beautiful interior. It features a stunning marble altar and unique ark in the sanctuary with paintings depicting the “Descent of the Holy Spirit”. On June 8, 2014, the title Archdiocesan Shrine of Espiritu Santo was granted in the dedication held during the 88th fiesta anniversary officiated by Cardinal Tagle.
11. The Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo
Just like the Baclaran Church, this is also my first time to visit the Quiapo Church since the pandemic started. Canonically known as the Parish of Saint John the Baptist or more popularly known as Quiapo Church, the basilica is famous home for the Black Nazarene, a dark statue of Jesus Christ. The church was founded in 1588 and was dedicated under the patronage of Saint John the Baptist. The Black Nazarene was carved by an unknown Mexican artist from dark wood in the 16th century and then brought to the Philippines in 1606. Folk belief attributes the colour of the image to soot from votive candles burnt before it, although the most popular legend is that it was charred by a fire on the galleon that brought it from Mexico.
12. Minor Basilica of San Sebastian in Quiapo
Not too far from the Quiapo church is another Minor Basilica. San Sebastian Church is truly special as it is the only all-steel edifice in the country since its inauguration in 1891 and is the only prefabricated steel church in the world. It was even once nominated as a possible destination as a World Heritage site in 2006. The first church was actually made from wood established on a land donated by Bernardino Castillo, a San Sebastian devotee. The church however was burned during the Chinese invasion in 1651. The succeeding structure were made of stone and bricks but they were utterly destroyed by fire and earthquakes. So to prevent any more destruction, a parish priest approached a Spanish architect to build a church that is fire and earthquake resistant! The Architect Genaro Palacios completed an all steel design that fused Earthquake Baroque with the Neo-Gothic style, a design that is merely inspired from Burgos Cathedral of Spain. The main altar enshrines the image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the first ever image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the given by Carmelite sisters from Mexico City in 1617. The church’s main altar is currently under renovation
Read More: Exploring the San Sebastian Church of Manila
13. Our Lady of Monserrat Abbey in San Beda University
We concluded our pilgrimage in probably one of the most beautiful church interiors in the country. Visiting the famous Abbey is one of the things in my bucket list and I am so glad that i finally witnessed its beauty. The Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat, or Manila Abbey, is a Benedictine men’s monastery located on Mendiola Street in Manila. The monastery was founded by monks from Spain in 1895, in the final years of Spanish colonial era in the Philippines and is dedicated to Our Lady of Montserrat.The Abbey Church is named after Our Lady of Montserrat and was dedicated in 1926 to the Holy Name of Jesus. Hence, every year, the feast of Santo Niño de Praga is celebrated on the last Sunday of January. Swedish architect George Asp designed the neo-gothic church. Paintings such as the portraits of the childhood of Jesus Christ, seen just above the main altar and the allegories of virtues on the ceiling by Fr. Lesmes Lopez, OSB, adorn the church interior.
We originally planned to visit 15 churches but we didn’t get enough time to complete them. We were supposed to visit the National Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus for our final station. Also, we initially included the two churches in Intramuros in our itinerary. If you are planning to complete fourteen churches for your Visita Iglesia in Southern Manila, you can add one of the aforementioned churches on your list.
I will blog more about these churches in my future entries.
For the meantime, feel free to check my other Pilgrimage Series
►Pilgrimage to Pampanga
► Pilgrimage to Bulacan
►Pilgrimage to Tarlac
►Pilgrimage in Bataan
►Pilgrimage in Cavite
►Pilgrimage in Zambales
►Pilgrimage In Manila
►Pilgrimage in Batangas
►Pilgrimage to Pangasinan
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