Road Trip | Visita Iglesia from Iligan City to Sarangani Province

We Filipinos observe Holy Week with the same passion as we celebrate Christmas. Holy Week (also known as Semana Santa or Mahal na Araw) starts with Palm Sunday and ends with Easter Sunday, with the Thursday and Friday before Easter declared as national holidays.

With Holy Week also falling on a summer, it is the perfect time for families to rest, relax and bond, while still having time to reflect, pray, and participate in the annual traditions.

A couple of years ago, our family did Visita Iglesia on our way to my father's hometown. We stopped at seven churches between Iligan City and Sarangani Province and offer prayers.

Visita Iglesia, also known as The Seven Churches Visitation, is a pious Roman Catholic tradition observed by faithful Christians during Lent by attempting to visit 7 Christian sites or parishes. Customarily observed during Maundy Thursday. [src]

Here are photos of the churches taken during the trip:

1. Divine Mercy Shrine 

Ulaliman, El Salvador, Misamis Oriental | This is the first stop of our Visita Iglesia. It is where you can see this 50-foot Divine Mercy Statue, so far the tallest Divine Mercy statue in the world. 

 2. Benedictine Monastery of the Transfiguration

San Jose, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon | This pyramid-like church is designed by the late Leandro Locsin, a Philippine National Artist for Architecture. The monastery is run by the Benedictine Monks. They have a commercial building, where you can also find pasalubong items, including Monk’s Blended Premium Coffee, Peanut Butter, and Roasted Peanuts. 

3.  St. Mary of the Perpetual Rosary Church 

Buhangin, Davao City | The St. Mary of Perpetual Rosary, also known as Buhangin Shrine, is famous for its string of steps leading up to the St. Mary’s Church. It's a perfect spot for meditation and reflection, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. 

4. Shrine of the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague

Matina, Davao City | Also known as Shrine Hills, the Shrine of the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague sits on Matina Hills. It's also an ideal place for worship and meditation.

5. Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Parish

Roxas Avenue, Dadiangas South, General Santos City | Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Parish is the second oldest church in General Santos City. It sits across what was originally known as Freedom Park, which has since renamed Carlos P. Garcia Park.

6. San Isidro Labrador Parish

Alabel, Sarangani Province | This parish was undergoing renovation when we visited in 2012.  A quick scan on their Facebook fan page shows that it now has a modern appearance. It is located in Poblacion, Alabel Sarangani Province, behind the Alabel Central Elementary School. 

7. Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Parish

Lun Padidu, Malapatan, Sarangani Province | The parish was also under construction when we visited in 2012. This is closest to my paternal grandparents' home. In parishes such as this, it's always fun to observe the people. It's in places like this when everyone knows everybody, and people linger after the mass to chat.

Road tripping with the family across Mindanao and doing Visita Iglesia is indeed a great way to spend Holy Week. You get to spend time with the family; practice this annual tradition and reflect and pray; and you get to see gorgeous views on the road!

What about you? How do you intend to spend Holy Week this year?

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