San Bartolome Apostol Parish / Nagcarlan Church

After paying a quick visit to Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery, we headed next to San Bartolome Apostol Parish or simply known as the Nagcarlan Church. The province of Laguna is the home of some of the most beautiful and well-preserved old churches in the country and the church of Nagcarlan is definitely one of them. When Manila was already conquered by the Spaniards in 1571, they decided to expand their territory by going to all its surrounding provinces to convert more locals into Christians. The Franciscan friars eventually started the conversion in the province of Laguna.


Nagcarlan has an interesting story behind its name. According to legend, the name was derived from a woman named Ana Kalang (Ana Panalangin) who was also referred to as Nanang Clara. She was a wealthy native woman who was known for her golden salakot and cane which she always carried when walking around town. She was well-respected by the townsfolk not just for her wealth but also for the help she extends to those in need. One day, a Spaniard came to her house and upon looking out of the window, he saw branches swaying and hitting one another, and so he asked what was going on. Ana Kalang answered and said “nagkakalang sila”. The word was repeatedly mispronounced by the Spaniards until it became Nagcarlan.

Before the arrival of the Spaniards, Nagcarlan was just a small barangay headed by Datu Gat Lakilaw. It was soon colonized by the Spaniards in 1571 led by Captain Juan de Salcedo (grandson of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi). The conversion of the natives to Christianity began shortly after the arrival of the first group of Franciscans in 1578. This mission was led by Padre Juan De Plasencia (one of the first Franciscan friars who arrived in the country and the author behind the Doctrina Christiana) and Padre Diego Oropesa. In 1583, the town, was formalized by the Franciscan missionary Padre Tomas de Miranda, the Spanish priest who held the distinction of having brought from Spain the first seed of wheat that ever sowed in the Philippine soil.


A copy of Doctrina Christiana displayed in National Museum of Anthropology)

The first church of Nagcarlan was built with light materials and was dedicated under the patronage of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle. More than one and a half century later, the second stone church was constructed under the term of Padre Cristobal Torres in 1752. In 1845, the town began to have some more improvements under the direction of Fr. Vicente Velloc who was also the same priest behind the construction of the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery. This reconstruction used adobe bricks and elaborately designed ceramic tiles which can still be seen today.


The Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery

Unlike the famous church of Liliw that comes with complete red-bricked facade, Nagcarlan church features an alternating pattern of dark stone and adobe red bricks. It comes with multiple niches with iron-grills, capiz, and stained-glass windows depicting images of Our Lady of Guadalupe, San Diego Alcala, and San Bartolome Apostol. You’ll also find a small niche on its pediment that enshrines an old statue of Saint Bartholomew.

Statue of San Bartolome Apostol


Hollow Cross on top of the church’s pediment


Nagcarlan Church Bell tower

Adjacent to the church is a four-story high bell tower that was constructed in 1781 during the term of Padre Fernando de la Puebla. As we all know, the church of Nagcarlan and its bell tower became more popular after it was featured in 1974 movie “Kampanerang Kuba” starring Vilma Santos and its tv series remake in 2005 starring Anne Curtis.

Elaborately designed ceramic floors of Nagcarlan Church

The church welcomes you to an equally stunning interior. The first thing you will notice is the beautiful and intricately detailed ceramic tile flooring.


Central nave and altar

The side of the church features multiple niches housing various saints and an antique pulpit.

Antique Pulpit of the church


Intricate details of the pulpit

It features a golden retablo mayor with bas reliefs depicting the life and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The retablo mayor of Nagcarlan Church


The lower niche features a bas relief depicting the Calvary


Bas reliefs depicting the Pentecost, the resurrection, and the Immaculate heart of Mary

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Another set of bas reliefs on the main altar depicting the Triumphant entry of Jesus in Nazareth, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Nativity


The Ascension of Christ

One of the side altars that enshrines the image of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle, the town’s patron saint
The other side altar enshrines the image of the town’s secondary patron, San Diego de Alcala

The three beautiful altars of Nagcarlan Church

You can also find an antique bas relief that depicts the interpretation of heaven, purgatory and hell. You can also find paintings of the same interpretation in other churches in Laguna. Most notably the church of Paete (along with old paintings of San Cristobal) and Pakil Church (Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Turumba)

Santo Cristo


Image of San Diego de Alcala near the main entrance


Image of San Bartolome Apostol near the main entrance

Things You Should Know about the San Bartolome Apostol Parish in Nagcarlan, Laguna

  • The first church was founded in 1578 and was formally declared in 1583
  • The town is celebrating its feast day every August 24 (Feast day of Saint Bartholomew)
  • They also have a 5-day feast called Ana Kalang Festival where they perform the popular Kalang-kalang dance
  • For mass schedule and activities, feel free to visit their FB Page : Parokya Ni San Bartolome Apostol

This post is part of my Laguna Pilgrimage series 2022: Feel free to check the rest of my entries here:

Also feel free to visit my articles about these Laguna churches

Places to visit in Laguna

Data References: OFM Archives Philippines / Way Back Machine / WikiMedia / Parokya ni San Bartolome Apostol 

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