Your Last-Minute Guide To The Best Places To Visit This Holy Week
You’re in the midst of Holy Week, but you still have no idea where to go because you’ve been very busy beating deadlines? Here are some easy-to-go-to destinations where you can kick back and still feel the spirit of Lent.
Laguna may not be surrounded by gorgeous beaches but it can still approach the feel of an escape. The province is covered with dense rainforests hiding many magnificent waterfalls (the Aliw Falls in Luisiana and the Bukal Falls in Majayjay just to name two), and it also has historical towns and old churches (the Saint John the Baptist Church in Liliw, built in 1605, is magnificent), which reminds us of its glorious past. You can, in fact, complete your entire 7-church Visita Iglesia within Laguna. The province’s pride is in their wood carvings and, of course, it has much to offer in terms of cuisine (try Sulyap Gallery Café and Restaurant, a heritage house-turned-food joint). Just a few hours drive from Manila, Laguna is actually an ideal road trip destination.
If you were not able to prepare much for this holiday but don’t want to stay home, you might want to consider giving Rizal a visit. Antipolo City is considered the "pilgrimage capital" of the Philippines. Every year during Holy Week, people visit the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Cathedral where one can find the 17th century wooden image of a resplendent Blessed Virgin. Aside from Antipolo, Rizal province has many destinations worth exploring that might even surprise you. Art is everywhere in Rizal: in the street murals, in restaurants and museums. Have your photograph taken with the town’s 125-meters high windmills as your backdrop.
Batangas is such a blessed land with its wide array of diverse landscapes, pristine beaches (Laiya in San Juan is a favorite destination; while the Masasa beach in the island of Tingloy is gaining popularity), scenic lakes, diving sites (stay at the rustic Anilao Beach Club), rivers, enchanting mountains, and the famous Taal Volcano. This place is also rich in culture, what with its bounty of religious and heritage sites. The Taal Basilica is the largest church in Southeast Asia, not to mention it's gorgeous, too. If it’s open, drop by Casa de Segunda, an ancestral house of one of Batangas’s prominent families, the Katigbaks; Segunda Katigbak is believed to be Rizal’s first love.
Bulacan is just a few hours drive from Manila and maybe one of the best escapes from the city. Bulakenyos are known to love planting and gardening, so there should be much nature sight-seeing and fresh air to be enjoyed. Aside from the historical Barasoain Church in Malolos and the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Marilao, the Biak Na Bato and Banal Na Bundok in San Miguel, Bulacan are favorite places for prayer and reflection. Baliwag in Bulacan is famous for its more than one-hundred carrozas having life-sized statues that parade during Holy Week processions.
Making a list of where to go during Holy Week would not be complete without Pampanga. Aside from having numerous churches (the San Guillermo Parish church is always worth a visit, with its baroque design from the late 1800s) and historical shrines (Clark Pampanga is teeming with must-visits), the curious from all over the world are drawn to the reenaction of the crucifixion of Christ in the city of San Fernando.
Tarlac, the center of Central Luzon, is the favorite stopover of tourists going north. This province has a lot to offer. Adventure seekers will surely enjoy the Tarlac Recreational Park, with its various activities like trekking, river rafting, and trail biking. Refresh with the amazing falls running from the peak of the mountain at Mayantoc, Tarlac. A good place for prayer and reflection especially this Holy Week is at Mt. Ressurection. A monastery with a 30-foot statue of Jesus Christ can be seen at the top of the mountain.