Visita Iglesia is being done during Holy Thursday and it is the same day when all the priests, seminarians, and lay persons under the Archdiocese of Manila attends the Chrism Mass held at the Manila Cathedral. It is difficult to squeeze inside the Cathedral because it is indeed jampacked.
After the Station One, I passed by the old buildings of Intramuros along the fabled and historical Pasig River and cross the Jones Bridge. Seeing the archway or the Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arch signifies only one place...Binondo.
Binondo is not only known for its delicious food place such as Eng Bee Tin for hopia and tikoy, Savory for its age-old roasted chicken, and Ang Tunay beef house, the genuine beef house in Manila. It is also the home of the one and only Filipino saint San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila.
Commonly called Binondo Church it is formally named as Minor Basillica of San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila and it is the first church to my Station Two.
Station Two consists of Minor Basillica of San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila, the Immaculate Concepcion Chapel runned by the Franciscan Monks beside the Binondo Church, the Sta.Cruz Church in Carriedo, and the Basillica of the Black Nazarene or the Quiapo Church.
It was surprising to see when I passed by Quiapo church, there were flagellants that entered the church to the amazement of those who were still praying. This is the moment that I took my first pit stop. Traditionally, I start the Visita Iglesia without eating or drinking any. I will only drink my first after finishing the Station One and will have a light snack to provide me the energy at the middle of the Station Two.
After taking the stride in Quiapo, I crossed thru the Lacson underpass and to Hidalgo Street. It seems that it is not Holy Week, not only that most of the people in that area are our Muslim brothers. They too pay respect to Catholic festivities but what is really eye-catching is there were still people selling pirated dvds (but they were playing movies such as the Ten Commandments and Passion of Christ), street foods that will quench and fill of people doing the Visita Iglesia, and other electronic gadgets that you can find in Quiapo. Add to the mix are those vendors that still play loud music.
Quiapo is such a haven for people who really wants to know the culture of Filipinos in a quick glance. Jeepneys flying everywhere, people racing against time, and its history remains while everything around it changes.
The last batch of churches that I visited, I called them the Mendiola Swing. Along Hidalgo Street is a small chapel in honor of Jesus Christ's Holy Face, the Shrine of the Holy Face of Jesus and the Basillica of San Sebastian which I considered my favorite church after Malate Church. In the past, it will be followed by the Church of Benedictine Abbey or San Beda Church but this time, I decided to take the twin church in Bustillos Street, the Our Lady of Loreto Church and the St. Francis of Assisi.
Crossing the memorable statue of Don Chino Roces means that I am already in Mendiola and taking the last run of my journey. The Benedictine Abbey Church or San Beda, the Church of St. Jude, and the Church of San Miguel Archangel rounded up my Visita Iglesia for 2009.
It was an exhausting but meaningful journey. I had that very rare moment on reflecting about the things that I did for the past year whether good or bad. Having that moment of solitude with my Creator and talking thru my heart, it was a relief, like a fresh water that cleansed and bathe all the burdens in my heart. Reflecting on my belief that Jesus Christ died on the to redeem all the sins of mankind and in my own little way, pay respect thru penance, I can also redeem my own sins. Next year, I will take another journey and hopefully, till the last days of my life.