the San Guillermo Church – the Santino connection

part II of my Holy Week 2011 feature

after our visit with the Betis Church we immediately went to the nearby San Guillermo Church in Bacolor to continue with our visita iglesia. special thanks to sinjin of libotero.com for allowing me to use some of his photos in this entry.

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no doubt for all the Kapamilya in us, Santino has once become a household name as the main character in the top rater teleserye ‘May Bukas Pa’ which tackle about our relationship with the Lord Jesus which was fondly called ‘Bro’ in the serye.

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this church became really famous when this became one of the main venues of the said teleserye with tourists easily relating it to Santino once they set foot on the church.

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situated at the town of Bacolor in the Province of Pampanga, this heritage church used to be one of the biggest churches in the country. it was built in 1576 by Augustinian friars but was destroyed in an earthquake in 1880. it was rebuilt six years after. it continued to show its massive grandeur in the plains of Bacolor until the Mount Pinatubo eruption which gain world attention in 1991. by 1995 lahar flowed from the rivers of Bacolor and buried the church at half of its height. despite this, it has continued to become a place of worship for most of the Bacolor locals. restoration efforts are in full swing even today, even if the floor of the church is halfway in between with the church’s ceiling.

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this baroque style church largely depicts what used to be a splendidly decorated church with main and side retablos and a huge altar decorated in gold leaves. after the eruption, the locals painstakingly dug up the altar and the retablo to use it again inside the same church. these retablos and altar can still be seen in the church up to now.

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on the right side of the church is the old convent which was converted into a museum that houses old religious artifacts that were salvaged from the lahar.

more photos from yours truly and libotero.com

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the Betis Church – the Sistine Chapel of the Philippines

part 1 of my 2011 Holy Week feature.

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Yes, you’ve read it right. Sistine Chapel…probably the best known Chapel in the whole of Catholicism and the Christian world. this chapel is famous for being the venue of the Papal Conclave where cardinals vote and elect the next Pope (I hope my religious education recall served me right on that). if you ask if we have a church or a chapel comparable to that of the Sistine Chapel in grandeur and magnificence, maybe the Church of Santiago Apostol in Betis, Guagua Pampanga can serve as the answer.

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about a week before Holy Week, i have decided to visit this much talked about church since it only is about an hour away from my place. good thing my 1st visit fell on a Sunday so i decided to hear mass there also. so together with Boks, my office buddy, we went to Guagua to look for the said church. we arrived there at around 5pm just in time for the Holy Mass. my nose bled profusely though because the mass was heard in total Kapampangan. I only undertsood ‘Amen’ and ‘Alleluia’.

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when i first set eyes on the exterior of the church, i realized that its just one of the old churches commonly found around the country. i even asked myself ‘so how did this church became the country’s Sistine Chapel? nothing extraordinary..’ i didnt realize that the beauty of this church lies in its interior.

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i was at awe with the massive paintings on the Church’s ceiling. the fresco’s also had paintings of different religious arts very reminiscent of those found in European churches (or i should say the Vatican). the front grand door of the church also had wood carvings w/c had very intricate designs. the floor of the church was also made out of wood which was very predominant to Catholic churches during the Spanish times.

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i had planned to take a couple of shots right after the mass as i was expecting the chandeliers would still be lit since its still around 6pm. i also thought that since this is a tourist attraction, the church would gather visitors especially right after every mass. much to my dismay though, the church attendant, even though he saw me on the floor lying as i tried to take photos of the altar, turned the lights off leaving me on the floor in pitch darkness. Thank You very much Manong.

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By Good friday i also brought my family into this Church for Visita Iglesia. maybe its not yet time for me to take good photos of this church. by the time we arrived at the church, the church cleaners were very busy waxing the wooden floor right in front of the altar. there was no way for me to take good shots with old manangs scrubbing the floor. i had to settle shooting my brother with the magnificent paintings as background.

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i will definitely be back on this church to try my luck again in shooting its interiors. i haven’t researched well also regarding as to who was the artist of the paintings and in general the history of the church.

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my brotha

the 16th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta : let’s fly!

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what a valentine weekend it was as i celebrated it at the Hot Air balloon fiesta in Clark Pampanga with my college friends, 2 of them came all the way from Cebu. it was the most tiresome trip ever because i had been out partying with them since Friday night in Manila (with barely 4 hours of sleep each for 2 nights). it was also the first time ever that i didn’t change clothes for 48++ hours and still was able to go out and party (wearing the same thing).

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it all started out with a whole night of drinking spree at Timog and Tomas morato in Quezon City (QC’s premiere nightlife area). me, aying,geng,jakie and brian decided to binge on food and booze the night before driving all the way to Clark the next day. my manila based college friends rovi,laiza and carlo were also going with us. we decided to meet them also in McDO tomas morato at 3am. i was already feeling groggy and lightheaded (but NOT yet drunk, thats for sure) because of the fatigue and the lack of sleep so i told everybody that we have to leave because i was also the one driving. it was around an hour and a half drive from NLEX to Pampanga. thanks to the early morning Sunday rush, there was no traffic from EDSA all the way to San Fernando exit in NLEX. it was the exact opposite though when we entered SCTEX exit towards Clark because it seemed that all the vehicles where on their way to the festival. and i was not wrong. it took us another hour (430am) to enter the Clark field open grounds and another hour to find a suitable parking space.

Since i was already too exhausted, i didnt really felt anymore the excitement of watching the balloons fly. i was about to content myself watching them outside. luckily though, geng was way too ‘wise’ that we didnt have to fall in line again for an hour to score tickets. with her superb communication skills and social ability to make friends ‘ora mismo’ we were able to get in immediately (nevermind asking how exactly it happend…’basta’!). when we entered the area, it was also the exact time the balloons started to fly. everybody was ecstatic to see those huge balloons in different shapes (one even looked like a house) lift up into the clear blue early morning skies. i didnt bother to take photos because i was too confident that all my friends will. this time i felt i’d better be in the photos than the one taking them. (see what stress and exhaustion can do to a photography addict like me)

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honestly though, for an aviation geek like me, i was more at awe with the airplane show/ exhibition compared to the hot air balloons. the multiude of people present in the venue (considering it was a sunday) also added to my lack of interest in the event. i would have to thank the AFP for putting up that show, they didnt disappoint me and made me think of going back for next year’s fiesta.

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mini hot air balloon image couresy of
manilamommy.com

overall it was a so – so event for me. a family oriented one and everybody of all ages can go. i also liked the mini-hot air balloon souvenirs. i didnt buy one because i know i’ll just eventually misplace them.

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tips:

1) if your coming from Manila then travel super early. if you leave manila by 3am, you can arrive in Clark airfield at around 430 am just in time for the balloons to fly.

2) score your tickets early and NOT at the gates. ticketnet sold tickets for this event at 150P (same as at the gates). if your going to buy at the entrance, then Goodluck. the line towards the entrance is usually kilometers long.

3) bring something to sit like foldable chairs etc. or you you can have a picnic there just bring in the essentials. a lot of food stands are present in the area so food and drinks isnt really a problem.

4) bring umbrellas. we left the area at around 930am because it was getting really hot. i would suggest though that if you watch it in the morning, i guess you can leave by 9am already since you’d be able to explore pretty much everything by then.

5) bring a camera. hot air balloons in numbers only fly in this event.

6) please be informed that they only have portable toilets. so you do the math.

7) to ride the hot air balloon will cost you around 4000P-5000P. so if you really want to maximize your trip then you budget that amount.

8) traffic on your way out is much much horrible than going in. so better yet pack in a lot of patience.

9) gas up. the nearest gasoline station is still in angeles and san fernando pampanga.

more photos at my facebook album: