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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Alluring Pampanga: Travel to Bacolor & The Sunken Church

San Guillermo Church, Bacolor Pampanga

After visiting Betis Church in Guagua, Pampanga, I rode a jeepney and traveled to a nearby town of Bacolor. It was a 10 minute ride and as I arrived to this town, history caught my mind about Bacolor.

Source: Wikipedia

This town was famous due to the Lahar incident of Mount Pinatubo which erupted last 1991. The lahar or the mud flow in which a mixture pyroclastic material from volcanic deposits and water and flowed down to the river. The Lahar incident happened last September 1995 or four years after the massive eruption of Mount Pinatubo. Bacolor was half buried by 6 meters and many lives were perished including houses and structures. 

House that was buried by lahar

Old structure

monument beside the church

The famous San Guillermo Church was also not spared in devastation. It was also known as Bacolor Church, one of the oldest church not only in Pampanga but also in the Philippines. It was constructed by Augustinian friars in 1576. It was one of the grandest church with several liturgical services, from baptismal to funeral and every day masses. The church was half buried and people tried to recover some religious items including the retablo or the altar and some statues of saints.

celebrated a feast

Welcome to Bacolor Church

half-buried church

Historical marker

my self pic

and another one

church facade

me again

Bell tower

I felt the nostalgic because what was left the upper half of the church and still managed to recover it. After 16 to 17 years of the lahar incident, it stood the test of time. I was really amazed on the church facade and there was a written in Latin on it which reads Rex Regum et Dominus Dominorum which translates King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I entered the door which formally a window and I immediately saw that the church was half buried.

entrance to the church

King of Kings and Lord of Lords

inside the church

view from the other side

only left from a former tall window of the church

The retablo was relocated in a spacious dome so it would fit. I felt the eagerness of checking each location of the church and commended the people of restoring the beauty of their church. Like also what I did every time I visit the church, I bowed my head, knelt and prayed.

picture inside


another one

preserved structure

To the right side of church was the Museo de Bacolor which showcased the history of the church and how it managed the restoration from the devastating lahar that almost ruined the town including the church. It also featured the adoration chapel that need to pass an arch. Several saints placed here and also the famous status of the Risen Lord which was featured in television hit May Bukas Pa which was shot and filmed here. Santino (Zaijan Jaranilla) was the main character. 

Museo De Bacolor


inside the museum

shot taken inside

sorry for the blurred pic

connecting to the church

history of the church

the devastating Mount Pinatubo eruption

lahar damaged those structures

Adoration chapel

passage along with saints

You need to pass this small arch

It was a rewarding experience especially you visit Bacolor Church. I was happy because of the Bayanihan (brotherhood/sisterhood) spirit of the people here in the town for the restoration of the church. Many loss their homes, livelihood/business or even relatives but their faith remained. It was such unfortunate that it happened but they never stop believing and continuing their faith to God. A nice visit and learning moment if you will visit this place. :)

the dome

side of the church



great to visit

Thank you Bacolor

Before I left Bacolor, I bought some pasalubong and purely delicacies. There were tamales or a rice grind with salted egg wrapped in banana leaves, suman or rice cake cooked in coconut milk wrapped in coco leaves, espasol or rice pounded with nuts and some toasted breads.

sold in Bacolor


Pasalubong items

How to get there?

via car / van - from Gapan-Olongapo Road, there was a marker at the road to the left (if you came from Manila via San Fernando City) that indicate a way to Bacolor town. Drive along the way and you will reach the town in 10 minutes and you will automatically saw San Guillermo Church.

via commute - from Gapan-Olongapo road, tell to the driver to drop you off to the road that will lead to Bacolor. Once you arrive, ride a tricycle and inform the driver to drop you off to San Guillermo Church. Tricycle fare will range from PHP20 to PHP30. Another one is a jeepney ride from San Fernando City proper (sign San Fernando-Bacolor-Guagua) and inform the driver to drop you off to Bacolor Public Market. Have a few minutes walk and you will reach the church in 10 minutes.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Alluring Pampanga: Visit to the Amazing Betis Church

Great Outside. Amazing Inside

One of my itineraries in visiting Guagua was the Betis Church. It was featured in several travel shows and in magazines so I was interested because of the Philippine version of Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. It was located at Betis, one of the sectoral areas in Guagua. The name of the church was Santiago Apostol (St. James the Apostle) Parish Church.

A Baroque Church

Welcome to Betis Church

at the side of the church

right side

Bell tower

Built in 1660, it was a Spanish-era church in which construction was made primarily on wooden materials. But fire broke out for several times until finally the church was built on concrete materials in 1770. I was amazed about the beauty of the church and it stood the test of time. Little I knew that this church was one of National Treasure declared by the National Museum of the Philippines. I was invited by one of staff to come inside and see the country's version of Sistine Chapel. I knew that it was featured for several times but for me it was my first. As I entered the church, I was truly astonished. It was magnificent view as I looked to the ceiling. These are murals and paintings of the Holy Family, some biblical scenes, Catholic saints and more. It was comparable to the Sistine Chapel at Vatican City. I immediately took some pictures and I also warned by the staff not to use flash on it.

One word: Wow!

The Baptism of Jesus (located at the side)

nice painting

striking colorful!

great work of art

artistically crafted

taken infront

nice work by Betis people

great masterpiece

seal of National Treasure

happy to be here

so proud that I came here

Sistine Chapel? No it's in Betis Church

The Ascension of Jesus

worth the visit

The retablo or the main altar was greatly carved with some ornaments. Once you get closer to the altar, you feel the sanctity of the place. It was such an honor to visit and amazed the talent of the people of Betis that it was greatly made.

main altar

some saints

great looking

On the left side of the church is the Museo ning Betis (Betis Museum) which showcased the history of Betis and the church. It was a simple museum and according to one of the staff that this place was under renovation to improve the look of the museum. It was free but donations were accepted for the improvement of the museum. 

 to the Museum


nice crafted door

up close

inside the museum

explanation about the museum

interior paintings' explanation

retablos of Betis Church

the church map

History of Betis

The Woodcarving town of Betis

explains the History of Betis

and also here

Betis Church History

It's such a pleasure to visit Betis and I love the church, both exterior and interior. It was a salute to the people of Betis for such as wonderful creation and work of art. It also makes me proud because there was a design of paintings and murals in the Philippines as comparable to Europe particularly Sistine Chapel of Vatican. It was a worth visit to Betis Church and make sure to include this in your itinerary. :)

How to get there?

via car / van - once you reach the town of Guagua, drive along road that passes San Nicolas and along the way, you will easily find Betis Church since it was just along the road. Travel time from Guagua town proper to Betis is only 10 minutes.

via commute - ride a jeepney from Guagua town proper (Guagua-Bacolor-San Fernando) and tell the driver to drop you off to Betis Church. Fare costs PHP8 only.

Please check also this Guagua government website featuring Betis Church:

Other Links

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