During Holy Week, the tradition of Visita Iglesia requires the faithful to visit at least seven churches or pilgrimage sights to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. Those in the metro usually make the rounds of the churches in their neighborhoods or nearby towns.
Aside from churches, there are many religious-themed sites set amidst beautiful natural landscapes like gardens, hills, mountains and caves. For those who prefer to reflect and commune outdoors in the beauty of nature, here are a few destinations around the country you can check out.
Marian Orchard in Balete, Batangas
Set among blooming gardens and European-inspired architecture, the Marian Orchard is a beautiful pilgrimage site found in Brgy. Malabanan, Balete, Batangas. Visitors can enter the Marian Orchard prayer park for a minimum donation of P50.00 pesos, which is applicable to residents and non-residents of Lipa.
Regina RICA in Tanay, Rizal
The Regina RICA (Regina Rosarii Institute for Contemplation in Asia) is a well-maintained pilgrimage site in Tanay, Rizal ideal for a quick road trip from the metro. Visitors climb 308 steps up a set of paved stairs lined with sunflowers leading up to the main shrine, a 71-foot tall statue of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary which contains a small chapel. Situated amidst the 13.5 hectares of land, the site offers a refreshing view of the Sierra Madre mountains. There’s also a modern-looking chapel and a Way of the Cross that can be found around the sprawling grounds.
Kamay ni Hesus in Lucban, Quezon
The Kamay ni Hesus (Hands of Jesus) Shrine in Lucban, Quezon, about a 4-hour drive from Manila, is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites for Holy Week. Devotees climb up almost 300 steps of stairs on a hill located on the slopes of Mt. Banahaw, passing by life-size statues depicting the 14 different stations of the cross. The main feature is a grand 50-foot high statue of Jesus Christ with outstretched hands at the top of the hill, said to be one of the tallest statues of Christ in the country. The grounds also contain a church where healing masses are held, a Garden of Eden, and a model of Noah’s Ark with stone animals for children to play in.
Monasterio de Tarlac
Monasterio de Tarlac is a monastery on top of Mount Resurrection, part of the Zambales Mountain Range in San Jose, one of the towns of Tarlac. Pilgrims make their way here to visit the 30-foot high colossal statue of catholic’s Jesus Christ overseeing the city. Situated in a 278-hectare Tarlac Ecotourism Park, the site offers a refreshing view of nature and fresh air coming for the mountain.