Monday, January 14, 2013

The Awakening of My Wanderlust : Bulacan Tour 2012

In April of 2012, I became an active forumer of Skyscrapercity, a forum dedicated about developments in the different parts of the Philippines. Naturally, I became active in posting at the Bulacan thread because I am from Bulacan.

I came across one of the forumer's post inviting forumers to tour Bulacan in one day and I decided I have to join the tour, given the fact that I have long planned to visit all Bulacan Towns and Cities but was not able to do so. William, the one who arranged the Bulacan tour immediately replied to my private message and told me the details of the tour and the week of preparation followed soon. 


Guiguinto Church
The day of the tour came (May 12, 2012) and I finally met the Bulacan forumers in person : William from Balagtas, Juan from Santa Maria, Marcjeff from Malolos, and Informatician from San Jose del Monte. In addition to them, we also have visitors from other provinces: Rod from Isabela, Hugo from La Union and Rusty from Tarlac. We rented a van so that it would be easier for us to tour around the province.

First stop is the town of Guiguinto. We visited the Church of St. Ildephonsus, the town church which was built in the Spanish period, just like many of Bulacan's town churches.

The church is closed but luckily, the caretaker opened it for us so we had the chance to check out the interior of the Church. Unfortunately, the church interior is already renovated and the old altar, constructed in the 1800's, were already replaced with a modern one.

Bulakan Church
Next stop is the town of Bulakan. the former capital of the province. Just as we expect, we found the town a living reminiscent of the Spanish presence in  the province. In there, we found old houses and obviously, the church, that every people of Bulacan is proud of: the Bulakan Church, which has stand the test of time and still stands proud as a testimony of the town's former glory.

After Bulakan, we proceeded to the town of Bigaa, now named Balagtas in honor of the foremost Bulacan poet, Francisco who hailed from this town. The town has a number of old Spanish houses, and its Municipal Hall is newly renovated. Beside the town is the Church of St. Lawrence the Martyr and Deacon, which is also an old Spanish Church but is already renovated and presently looks modern.
Bigaa Church

After checking out the town plaza, town hall and other part of the Bigaa town proper, we proceeded to our next destination, Pandi. This town was formerly a barrio of Bigaa which was established as a separate municipality in 1946. The town is simple, serene and largely agricultural. We've got to see the town proper, the town hall, the rice lands, and the simple life of the people here. We've also got to visit the town's small but beautiful church.

After Pandi, we proceeded to the town of Santa Maria where we witnessed a very busy town proper teeming with people and life. As a matter of fact, there was a wedding at the very same time we visited the town church! I know for a fact that Santa Maria Church is beautiful but that day, I find it more beautiful with all the wedding decorations in place and all the people there. Too bad, my camera's battery is almost losing it's life so I decided not to take photos of the Church . Since Santa Maria is just a town next to San Jose del Monte, I decided I would just visit it again some other time.

Pandi Church
Next stop is Bocaue. This town was formerly one of the largest towns in Bulacan comprising the whole land of the present day Santa Maria. It is one of the first towns which broke away from the then gigantic town of Meycauayan.

The town church is also of Spanish period wherein large buttresses, made of adobe and Spanish period construction materials, can be found on the right side of the main church. we spent very short time in this town, taking pictures and checking out the interior, exterior and surroundings of the church. After all that, we then proceeded to the town of Marilao. At this point, my camera's battery was drained and I was not able to take any pictures for the rest of our tour.

Bocaue Church

We visited Marilao town proper, and as was that day's custom, the church. Marilao Church is also old and the town's catholic cemetery can be found just beside and at the back of the Church. Unfortunately, the view of the church is marred by too many spaghetti wires. I just hope that next time I visit it, the spaghetti wires would already be gone and I would have a good view of the Church.

From Marilao town proper, we proceeded to another famous church in the same town: the Divine Mercy National Shrine. Said shrine was built as a replacement pilgrimage site to the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in San Jose del Monte. We stayed for almost 30 minutes in that church and shrine, checking all there is to see. Some of us also got to be anointed with the Holy Oil by the priest in the church that day.

Angat Church
(This photo was taken at a later date)
We then proceeded to San Jose del Monte and there, we took our lunch in a "kubo-style" restaurant, Gringneth. After filling our stomach with delectable food the restaurant offers, we tour the small city proper and also visited the town church. The original church was built in 1840's but is now replaced with a new and bigger church, leaving only the original bell tower intact.

Next destination is the famous Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in the same town, now run as private shrine by the family of the late Anita Guanzon, a cancer patient who was miraculously cured after visiting the original Lourdes Shrine in France.

The tour was really an "amazing race"-type tour as we continued north and proceeded to Angat. That would be the first time I am seeing the famous 400 year old Angat Church and man, I was really fascinated! At that instance, that church became my most favorite Spanish Old edifice of all time.

Baliwag Church
(This photo was taken at a later date)
It was already starting to rain when we reached Angat. Luckily, we were already on the move when it really poured. And luckiest of the luckiest, it stopped when we reached the next town, Bustos. We also toured the town and checked out its church and town hall. Feeling like we are racing against time (it was already 4pm that time), we decided to be already on the move after just 15 minutes. We reached Baliuag town proper in less than 30 minutes.

Baliuag town proper is a very progressive place. Everywhere you look, you will notice that Baliuag is indeed a great town, full of commercial establishment, while at the same time being able to preserve its heritage. At the very heart of the town is the Baliwag Church, another Spanish period Church, towering above all the the establishments.

After experiencing the progressive town  feel of Baliwag, we were again on the move, this time to Plaridel. We reached Plaridel in another 20 minutes and because we were running out of time, we were only able to visit the Plaridel church which is as fascinating as Angat Church. Inside the church, many "lapida's" can be seen indicating that many people from the town were buried inside the Church, a practice reserved for town principalias. One marker even shows the year 16-- as the date of death of one of those buried inside! It goes to show that the Church is really that old.

Last destination is Malolos City. Here, we've got to visit the famous Barasoain Church as well as the Malolos Cathedral. We also had a glimpse of the Malolos Heritage district where many Spanish era houses still stands (which I will be visiting and blogging about at a different date later).

All in all, we've got to visit thirteen towns in one day. Though tired, that one day was really satisfying considering that we managed to visit all those thirteen towns, and seeing many different cultural and historical treasures, not only of the province but also of the whole nation. It was an awesome tour which can actually also be considered as VISITA IGLESIA, monster version. :)

This tour marked the beginning of my wanderlust. I thought before that I would already be contented upon being able to visit all of Bulacan's town and cities (which I will be able to do later) but then I realized that it was just a start... The start of my numerous ADVENTURES... :)

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About the Author

I am ROMEL RAFOR JAIME, the man behind San Josenyong Gala. My travel blogger name came about because I am a proud resident of the City of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. In real life, I am a licensed librarian who works in a college in Gapan, Nueva Ecija as a librarian and teaches general education subjects from time to time. My goal is to visit all the 81 provinces of the Philippines before visiting other countries. As of 2017, I have already visited 73... :)


  1. super like sir! congrats sa blog mo! :)

  2. On a Black Friday we go to Baliwag church to witness the longest procession of statues of Saints that could reach to almost 100. When I was living in Bulacan we used to hear mass at St. Michael the Archangel or Marilao church and occasionally at Divine Mercy Shrine.

  3. I once live in SJDM Tialo t'was 2007. Still remember the place the old churches and the "SAPA". And to eat "adobong palaka" and Chicken Valenciana. I miss Bulacan.

  4. Imma proud San Joseno here! There are many places to be proud of here in Bulacan. Kervin

    1. Yan tayo eh! Proud San Josenyo here too! :)

  5. Wow. Ang galing mo talaga kuya ! I want to see more old churches here in the Philippines ! Keep up the good work kuya ! -Toffer Peña

  6. one of my dreams is to visit diff churches around the country, its so nice and inspiring to read this kind of blog... good job kuya romel :) ----collin roxas

  7. It's so nice to see the different churches here in Bulacan. The exteriors are really amazing. :) They really preserve the antiquity of the churches. ^^ - Inah de Guzman.

  8. -- hehhe sobrang ganda tlaga nung mga kuhang pic. kuya romel sorry tagal mag comment hihi nkaka proud mging bulakenyo, ingat po mga gala mu, God bLess, its more fun in philippines... ^_^ janna abarca

  9. Marami palang magagandang churches dito sa Bulacan. Yung iba ngayon ko lang nakita.
    - Aira Bulquerin

  10. What is the oldest church here in BULACAN? :) Most of them looks old, really old.
    - Juven Jimenez

  11. Buti na lng at medyo gala ako nung elementary kaya nakita ko na halos lahat yan hahaha xD sa lamat sa mga contest xD pero yung iba ndi ko pa nakikita at sana makita ko din lahat ng kagandahan ng bulacan ndi lng ang churches :) - Rolando Ong

  12. ang saya nman nang ginagawa mu kua.. haha.. sana someday mgawa ntin yan ng samasama ksma ung ibang FCEER .. dream q rin ang mag gala sa kung saan saan eh.. =) .. gud luck sa iba nio pang trips ..

    tnx din po kc nabigyan nio aq ng idea s assign. q .. - Jonalyn Racelis

  13. Truly kuya, there are many churches here in Bulacan... Sana po mapuntahan ko din po yan someday :D

    Proud to be a San Josenyo po !!! :D

    - Djeriel R. Estrella

  14. Ang daming churches dito sa Bulacan, yung church sa Angat parang nakita ko na yan. Dyan ata kinasal yung kapatid ng tito ko. Sana lahat yan mapuntahan ko, pag may pera na. Hihi :)) Jhirty

  15. Among all the churches Angat, Bulacan and Baliwag Church caught my attention! Kelan mo ko I-tour jan Librero!

    1. We've got the same choices brad. I can tour you as soon as possible... :)

      My favorite is Angat Church, then Calumpit and Plaridel Church. Last 2 are not pictured here...

  16. Mag set na tayo Bulacan tour sir.. Miss ko na gumala saka kulitan natin.. :)