Sunday, September 20, 2009

Philippine Churches Series

I realized that each time I travel around the Philippines, I always end up visiting the Catholic churches in the area. It all started during our Ilocos trip some years ago wherein we visited a lot of old, old churches for the Holy Week. Totally amazed with the architectural designs and the age of the churches we visited, I continued the practice along with my friends through the years. So far, it has been an enjoyable and informative process for me.

Philippines is the only country in Asia that has a predominantly Christian populace with Catholicism as the leading religion. Christianity became widespread for more than 300 years that started in 1500s. During those times, churches were built by the Spanish priests to serve not only as places of worship but also used as the seat of the government. However, building of churches were not as widespread in southern part of the Philippines particularly in Mindanao considering that a large part of the said island were predominantly occupied by Muslims and other indigenous tribes that resisted strongly the widespread of the Christian religion during those times. This is why in the current period, most churches in Mindanao were built only during the recent century compared to the ones in the northern part of the Philippines.

Last month, somebody asked what is the significance of visiting these churches each time we travel around the country. For me, churches especially the very old ones that I have seen in Luzon and Visayas show not only the architectural designs of the period it was built, the interior adornments that are often magnificent and grandiose even if the surrounding area are visibly poor, the obvious and enduring faith of the people around the area and last but not the least, the Philippine churches almost always contribute to the history of the place. Additionally, I really prefer going to the church of the place where I visited to give my thanks for the safe journey.

In this light, I am beginning a series of posts that will feature the churches that I have visited around the Philippines. Later, I might also include the churches I have visited overseas. In the meantime, come with me and discover this part of the Philippine heritage.

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