Metro Manila practically becomes a ghost town during Holy Week, especially on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Most stores and malls are closed and almost everyone you know went out of town which means traffic is practically non-existent, and that’s good news for bicycle riders.
So in time for the Holy Week, we’ve listed down the seven churches in and around the metro that you can do your Visita Iglesia pilgrimage using your bike. Think of it as your way of doing a healthy penitensiya.
1) Manila Cathedral, Manila
You might as well start your pilgrimage at the Minor Basilica and Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, otherwise known as the Manila Cathedral, which is located in the heart of Intramuros in Manila. The basilica has the distinction of becoming a separate diocese in 1579 through the endorsement of Pope Gregory XIII and of being visited by three different popes: Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Francis. It’s also where Sharon Cuneta and Gabby Concepcion got married in 1984.
2) St. Joseph Parish Church, Las Piñas City
From the Manila Cathedral, a roughly 14km ride south will take you to the St. Joseph Parish Church in Las Piñas, home to the famous Las Piñas Baboo Organ which was declared a National Cultural Treasure in 2003. To get there from the Manila Cathedral, one only has to get on Roxas Boulevard and then pedal south until they reach NAIA Road where they then turn left. Upon reaching Quirino Avenue, turn right and then go straight past St. Paul’s College in Parañaque. Keep on heading straight for around 2.5km and keep your eyes peeled towards the right because once you reach the corner of Quirino Avenue and Tabon Road, you’ve arrived at your destination.
3) Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church, Guadalupe Viejo, Makati City
Makati may be known for its business district, high-end malls, and as the political bailiwick of the Binay clan yet located within the Guadalupe area is the 400-year-old Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church. From the St. Joseph Parish Church, you’ll have to bike northward on Quirino Avenue again until you reach NAIA Road and then turn left to get to Roxas Boulevard where you’ll then turn right. Turn right again once you reach EDSA and go northward until you reach Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue. We assume traffic will be nonexistent on EDSA then in which case you then move left and go up on the Estrella flyover going towards the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge. You then turn right on Gumamela and right again on Progreso. Take the left on Progreso 2 and when you reach the corner of Bernardino, roughly 15km from the St. Joseph Parish in Las Piñas, the church should be right across you.
4) Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Pasig City
A short approximately 6-km ride to the East is the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Pasig City which was established in 1573. It is also known as the oldest Marian church in Asia. From the Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church, you turn right on Bernardino and take another right on Coronado. You then turn left on Gonzales and once you reach JP Rizal Avenue, go eastward on it and pass under C-5 until you reach Kalayaan Avenue. You then turn left onto San Guillermo Avenue and M. Concepcion Avenue until you reach G. Coching where you’ll then turn left and then right on G. Bunyi. You then take left on F. Flores Street, go up over the Kaunlaran Bridge, and then straight ahead on E. Santos Avenue. You then turn left on A. Luna Street and take a right on Caruncho Avenue where roughly 60m from the corner you’ll find the church.
5) Antipolo Cathedral, Antipolo City
The Antipolo Cathedral has been through a lot of tragedies: fire, earthquakes, even bombardment in World War II yet it has always been restored and refurbished, which is perhaps fitting since it is also known as the National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. For the 16-km journey from Pasig, you continue eastward on Caruncho Avenue and go around the Pasig City Hall to the right on F. Manalo and Caruncho Avenue and then turn left on Market Avenue. Upon reaching Mercedes Avenue, you turn left and head straight to C. Raymundo Avenue where you’ll then turn right. Once you reach Ortigas Avenue, you turn right and follow it all the way to the end to the rotunda where you’ll take the third exit onto the Ortigas Avenue Extension. You continue eastward on it until you reach a Y-junction where you take the left and the street becomes P. Oliveros where roughly 800m away at its end is the Antipolo Cathedral.
6) Our Lady of the Abandoned Parish Church, Marikina City
The church which became the Our Lady of the Abandoned Parish Church was first constructed in 1572. It was then moved to its current location in 1687 to prevent it from being flooded whenever the water level of the Marikina River rose during the rainy season. For the 15-km trip, you head north on the Manuel Quezon Street until you reach the L. Sumulong Circle where you’ll turn left. Upon reaching Sumulong Highway, you turn left and take it all the way down to Masinag where Sumulong intersects with Marcos Highway. You then turn left on Marcos Highway and continue past Gil Fernando Avenue until you reach Nicanor Roxas Street on the right. You take it until you reach the corners of J.P. Rizal and E. dela Paz where you’ll take the latter until you reach Kapitan Moy Street. Turn left on it and then left again on J.P. Rizal and about 50m later, you’re at the church.
7) Our Lady of Victories Church, New Manila, Quezon City
The Our Lady of Victories Church is one of the few places of worship in Metro Manila where the mass is still celebrated in old-school Latin though the church itself is fairly new, having been established only in 1970. It’s so old-school that females who wish to enter the church are required to wear a belo or veil to cover their head. From the Our Lady of the Abandoned Parish Church, you go south on J.P. Rizal until you reach the corners of J.P Rizal, E. dela Paz, and Nicanor Roxas Streets. You turn right on J.P. Rizal and follow it until it reaches the corners of M. Roxas and General F. Santos. Again, you take J.P. Rizal until you reach Marcos Highway which you’ll then take all the way to Cubao on Aurora Boulevard. Go past EDSA and take the small bridge going up and down Aurora Boulevard until you reach Betty Go-Belmonte. You then take it and follow it until you reach Cannon Street and you’re at the church.
BONUS: Our Lady of Mount Carmel Shrine, New Manila, Quezon City
Since you’re already in the area, you might as well drop by the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Shrine which is less than 2km away. We make special mention of the place because every Holy Week, enterprising vendors sell different kinds of local delicacies on the parking lot so what better way than to cap your roughly 70+km trip than with some sweet kakanin. From Cannon, you go back again on Betty G-Belmonte, turn right on Bouganvilla, left on Balete, right on 6th Street, left on Gilmore, and then right on 4th Street. Upon reaching Broadway, the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Shrine is on your right.
Photos via Spot.ph; Asiantravelermagazine.com; Dioceseofpasig.org; Flickr.com; Wikimapia.com; Interaksyon.com; Facebook