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Bataan - Tarlac Visita Iglesia

Annually, during the Holy Week, my family goes out of town to visit several old Spanish Churches. This pilgrimage is known here in the Philippines as Visita Iglesia.

In the past few years, we went on Visita Iglesia in the provinces in Southern Luzon. For a change, we decided to have our pilgrimage in Western and Central Luzon this year. Please do read on and check out our Bataan - Tarlac Visita Iglesia

First line of Defense Marker
Our trip officially started in Pasay City very early Maundy Thursday. Our convoy of three cars reached North Luzon Express Way or NLEX in less than an hour. However, it took us almost four hours to reach San Fernando Exit due to the multitude of cars also heading north. From the exit, we reached our first church after another hour.
Our first church was the century old Hermosa Church in the town of Hermosa in Bataan. Built in 1717, Hermosa Church is also known as Saint Peter of Verona Parish Church. We didn't stay too long though, we only did four of the 14 Stations of the Cross in the church so that we could still visit the other old churches in other towns. 

Orani Church
Our next church was Orani Church in the next town of Orani also in Bataan. The church is also known as Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish Church. It was built in 1714 and was declared a Pilgrim Shrine in 2004. We had the next three Stations of the Cross here.

Mt. Samat from a distance
Since it was already past noon when we finished our 7th Station, we decided to skip the other old churches (this decision made me so sad) in the other towns in favor of looking for a place to eat our baon for lunch. We found a gas station in the town of Pilar and luckily it was just a stone throw away from Mt. Samat. (Of course we did not miss visiting it.)
Mt. Samat is famously known for the Dambana ng Kagitingan located at its peak. Also known as the Shrine of Valour, the huge cross on top of the mountain reminds its visitors of the courage and sacrifice of the Filipino and American soldiers who fought and died defending the freedom of the Philippines.
Sunset Shore Villas

After a quick tour of the shrine, we drove directly to Sunset Shore Villas that my cousin booked in the town of Morong, Bataan. The resort proved to be worth the long drive. It has access to a very picturesque beachfront. It also has a nice pool which include a "bubble pool" (great for butt massages and also for looking like you're infinitely farting underwater). After enjoying the beach, the pool, and everything else we wrapped up our first day of Visita Iglesia in Bataan.
Beach in front of the resort

Early the next morning, we prepared to head out for Tarlac. However, we decided to maximize our stay in the resort first. My daughter, sister, and I went out hunting for starfishes and also to check out the beach. The others took a dip either at the pool or the beach.
We checked out a few hours after and proceeded to Tarlac but before we left Bataan, we stopped by Morong Church in continuation of the Visita Iglesia in the province. The church is said to be 400 years old and is also known as the Our Lady of the Pillar Church. After three more Stations of the Cross , we continued our trip to Tarlac with a stopover at Subic to check out the monkeys, eat lunch, and shop at the Duty Free Puregold store.

La Paz Church
We arrived at my uncle's residence in La Paz, Tarlac late in the afternoon. We had just enough time to visit La Paz Church to finish the remaining Stations of the Cross. Although not really a century old church, La Paz Church is famously known for as a pilgrimage site for people seeking healing. We ended our second day in my uncle's residence. 

Concepcion Church
We left La Paz early the next morning. We had a stop over in Concepcion, Tarlac to visit the old Concepcion Church and also The Aquino Ancestral House
We got home at around 3PM that day. Overall, we managed to visit 3 churches in Bataan and 2 in Tarlac. Despite falling short of the 7 planned churches, we had plenty of side trips instead. Hence, it was still a success and we all felt that it was a fulfilling 3-day pilgrimage. 



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