Holy Week 2022: Go on a Visita Iglesia walking tour

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 11 2022 10:00 AM

JP Ordona of Manilakad (left) and Carmel of St. Therese in Quezon City. Photos courtesy of JP Ordona
JP Ordona of Manilakad (left) and Carmel of St. Therese in Quezon City. Photos courtesy of JP Ordona

MANILA -- Tired of visiting churches through your screen? Here's another safe way to take part in the Visita Iglesia tradition this Holy Week.

JP Ordona of Manilakad (combining Manila and "lakad," which means "to walk" in Filipino) is offering two Visita Iglesia walking tours: one in Quezon City on Holy Tuesday (April 12), and another in Manila on Maundy Thursday (April 14).

Each tour includes at least seven walkable churches, with Ordona sharing their historical significance and other interesting details. There will also be food stops, but these will not be covered by the tour fee of P1,000 per person.

Since it is an outdoor activity, participants are advised to wear comfortable shoes and clothes and bring water, an umbrella, and a fan. 

"Walking tours are primarily safe because they are done outdoors with social distancing," he told ABS-CBN News in an online interview.

"I think the appeal of walking tours is it genuineness. You are not herded in an aircon bus and made unaware of your surroundings. Walking tours are authentic, personalized, and flexible," he added.

 

This year will mark the first time that Ordona will do a Visita Iglesia walking tour in Quezon City. He saw the potential of the City of Stars after realizing that New Manila "was like a mini Tagaytay with many churches, seminaries, and convents."

"[During the pandemic] I introduced a tour called 'Lakad sa Dilim,' which covered the churches and old houses of New Manila and the Scout area. Five churches were already included in that tour, so I just added two more churches to complete the seven [for Visita Iglesia]," he said. 

"The Quezon City walking Visita Iglesia would be more solemn because there will be fewer people," he added, saying that he would also like to organize Visita Iglesia tours in Paranaque, Pasay, and Marikina if the said areas have seven walkable churches. 

When asked why he thinks Visita Iglesia is an important tradition among Filipinos, Ordona replied: "Many Filipinos are devout Catholics... When we do the Visita Iglesia, it serves as a renewal of our faith. When we do the Visita Iglesia with family and friends, it strengthens our relationship with them and fortifies our belief in God."

Ordona's Manilakad started in 2015 with walking tours in Ermita and Malate. He went on to expand to other places such as Old Makati, Pasig, Pateros, and Taguig.

And while he has visited many churches in Metro Manila, a few of them hold the most significance for him. 

San Sebastian Church (left) and Holy Face. Photos courtesy of JP Ordona
San Sebastian Church (left) and Holy Face. Photos courtesy of JP Ordona

"The Visita Iglesia in Manila revealed Holy Face, a small church in Quiapo between Quiapo Church and San Sebastian Church. In Sampaloc, the place of my birth, are twin churches (Loreto and San Antonio de Padua). I have a soft heart for San Miguel Church because it is the place of birth of my father and the church where I was confirmed," he said. 

Ordona went on: "I would accompany my mother to St. Jude for the novena. San Sebastian has unique architecture but the church that is closest to my heart is San Beda Church, officially known as the Abbey Church of Our Lady of Montserrat. It is an oasis in chaotic Manila. It seems to be closed most of the time, but all you have to do is ask." 

"It is the most solemn and quiet church I have been to. The Gregorian chants are enchanting. The altar and the paintings on the ceiling are astounding. There is a garden on the left, and the Benedictine Abbey on the right, so there are no distractions," he ended.