Centuries-old churches in Bulacan is one of the top destinations of Catholic devotees during the observance of the Lenten tradition, "Visita Iglesia."
Visita Iglesia, the Spanish words for church visits, is traditionally practiced every Maundy Thursday with devotees doing the Stations of the Cross usually in seven to 14 churches.
Considered as home of the heritage churches, thousands of residents as well as tourists come to Bulacan during Holy Week not only to pray and meditate on the Stations of the Cross but also to take a glimpse in the awesome intricacies of the church arts and traditions.
"Our favorite destination for an annual Visita Iglesia is Bulacan because as we commemorate the sacrifices of Jesus Christ, it is also nice to see the traces of the church history with its architectural structures," said Rosario dela Cruz, a devotee who visits the province even on ordinary days.
Proving Bulacan’s popularity is the pilgrimage tour being offered by travel agencies during Holy Week.
Likewise, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) also features the churches in Bulacan in its online Visita Iglesia.
The most popular destination in the province is Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish (Barasoain Church). Built during the Spanish era, the church housed the first Philippine Republic and the site of the Constitutional Convention.
The Malolos Cathedral, also known as the Basilica Minore dela Nuestra Señora de Inmaculada Concepcion, is also one of the favorite places during Holy Week. It is the ecclesiastical seat of the Diocese of Malolos.
The St. John the Baptist in Calumpit town, is another must-see church. Built in 1572, it is considered as the oldest church in Bulacan. It is also said to be a mute witness to the Filipinos’ struggle against Spanish, American and Japanese rule.
The 1733 heritage St. Augustine Parish Church of Baliuag, commonly known as Baliuag Church, is also known as the focus of the largest religious festival, the "Baliuag Lenten Procession" with more than 90 floats paraded on Good Friday.
The Sta. Ana Church in Hagonoy also was declared a national shrine by the CBCP in 1991.
The St. John of God Parish (San Raphael Church) is included in the historic sites as hundreds of Katipuneros were reportedly killed there by the Spanish "Guardia Civil."
Another must visit is the San Isidro Labrador Church, the patron saint of farmers in Pulilan town.
Other famous churches in Bulacan are San Miguel Arcangel Parish in San Miguel; San Ildefonso Parish in Guiguinto; San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish in Calumpit; Sta. Monica Parish in Angat; Santiago Apostol Parish in Plaridel; Sta. Isabel Church in Bulacan; and the Our Lady of Salambao (Sta. Clara Church) in Obando.