Visita Iglesia: The old churches of Bulacan, Part 2 of 2

visitaiglesia.gif This is a series on the different churches in various areas in the country that can be followed as a guide for the much observed Filipino Catholic Lenten tradition of the Visita Iglesia. Click the image at the right to access the rest of the posts.

This is the second part of my Bulacan Visita Iglesia series. The first can be found at this post.

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Malolos Church

Malolos Church

8 Malolos was Christianized on 1580 by the Augustinians and has been a focal point in the history of the country. The Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception had its beginnings with its first building in 1591 made of light materials. In succeeding years, it has been rebuilt and enlarged.

The current church was consecrated in 1826 but was heavily damaged in the earthquakes of 1863 and 1880. These were renovated but was burned by the revolutionaries in 1898. Starting 1963, the church was heavily renovated that portions of the facade and interior were altered.

The facade is simple with touches of neo-classic. Doric columns divide it into three segments with the central part holding the statued niches, emblem of the Augustinians and the papal insignia.

Barasoain Church

Barasoain Church

9 Historic Barasoain used to be independent from Malolos and this explains the presence of a stone church here. The Parish Church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel had its first stone edifice in 1871 to replace a temporary one but was burned later.

In 1885, the current structure was started while the belltower was constructed in 1889. The church was the scene of the proclamation of Philippine Independence and recently, where Erap Estrada, whose abbreviated presidency was marked by corruption, took his oath of office.

The facade has Neo-Classic touches and its rounded pediment is echoed by the arches and rose window at the lower part.

San Rafael Church

San Raphael Church

10 San Rafael was part of the extensive haciendas of the Brothers of San Juan de Dios organized into a town by its laborers. It was officially founded in 1750. While the Augustinians evangelized here, due to the lack of priests, the seculars often administered. There are no records on the actual year of building the current Parish Church of San Juan de Dios but it might already have been started before 1863. It has also been heavily renovated in the last few decades.

Here is another simple facade embellished to a bare minimum. Its notable features are a set of decorative Doric columns.

A bell by Hilario Sunico, dated 1834 can be found at the front of the convento.

Bulacan, Bulacan Church

Bulacan, Bulacan Church

11 The parish church in Bulacan, Bulacan is one of the elegantly decorated churches in the province. The first building was constructed in 1578. During the British Occupation, in 1762, it was burned down but was later rebuilt again. It suffered during the earthquakes of 1863 and 1880. In 1884, the parish priest transformed the old Classic style into Neo-Byzantine. The blending of Muslim, Baroque and pre-Mannerist styles is quite remarkable. Attention is focused on the massive arches encircling the portal and the small rose window while above it, three statued niches can be found.

Sta. Isabel Church

Sta. Isabel Church

12 The facade of the edifice has strong echoes with the facade of Bulacan, Bulacan church especially the stylized pediment with its Muslim inspired embellishments. Unfortunately, the
front is marred by a massive portico.

Marilao Church

Marilao Church

Marilao, together with Obando has been administered by the Franciscans between 1578 and 1579. The original location was abandoned due to an earthquake when it leveled the town. The current Parish Church of San Miguel de Arcangel was built in 1863, formerly the site of an old chapel.

The facade is elegant. Statued niches can be found at the first and second levels. Decorative columns running the height of these two levels are topped with statues of saints as finials. Two buttresses flank the facades. The pediment, with sides ending with scrolls is bare except for a statued niche of the patron saint.

One notable feature of this church is how the belltower is constructed. Slender with blind and open windows, it is
recessed but still form part of the church.

Obando Church

Obando Church

14 Obando, Bulacan was founded by the Franciscans in 1754. The Parish Church of Sts. Pascual Baylon, Claire and Our Lady of Salambao is the focal point of the annual fertility rite that this town is famed for. The facade of the church has almost the same arrangement with the church facade of Marilao. Except that instead of the statued niches at the second level and the decorative columns, the Obando edifice consists of windows while the columns are flat. The pediment has the same statued niche for the patron saint but with the addition of two round windows at its sides. Flanking the facade is a massive 5-tiered octagonal belltower constructed in line with the facade.

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  1. Pingback: » Visita Iglesia: The old churches of Bulacan, Part 1 of 2 Simbahan: Philippine Heritage Churches and Related Structures

  2. i just would want to share some info that can help improve this blog, especially on the franciscan churches built in bulacan.

    there were four pueblos that franciscans founded. it all started with meycauayan. in 1623, polo (valenzuela) was separated from its mother town and there built the church of san diego de alcala. in 1754, obando was extracted from polo, and became a separate pueblo. unfortunately, the spanish churches were destroyed during WW2, and what are now standing in meycauayan, polo and obando are product of modern architecture. info about marilao is correct.

  3. Could someone provide me with the contact number of the Minor Basilica of Immaculate Conception or Malolos Cathedral? Please? *desperate*

  4. HiEstan,

    Found this interesting. My family is planning to visit Bulacan churches this coming holy week. Our main objective is get to see Barasoin Church. I have an octogenarian mother who I would like to take on this trip– she can still walk, albeit slow, but can surely make the trip.
    Hope it wont be too much to ask for some directions—I need your help to suggest a route even just to complete 7 of the churches– if we can’t go for the 14. We will be coming from Quezon City area– appreciate if you can tell us the exact directions so that we wont get lost.
    thank you so much in advance!


  5. Hi Cas,

    I would suggest that you just take the Northexpress way and exit at the, probably as I’m not sure, Sta. Rita Exit that will lead you to Guiguinto. You can start the visita iglesia there. From Guiguinto, you can venture to Malolos, just ask for directions but it’s quite near where you can visit Malolos Cathedral, Sta. Isabel and Barasoain. From there, drop by either Bulacan, Bulacan, which is south of Malolos or venture into Hagonoy. From their, try to visit Calumpit and proceed to Apalit in Pampanga where you can either visit the church or go back to the Northexpressway and proceed back to Manila.

    Alternatively, you can also take the same route for Guiguinto, Malolos area, then proceed to Bulacan, Bulacan and from there, you can go to Balagtas, Marilao and Obando or include Polo. From there, you can exit at Monumenta. However, I’m not so familiar with the routes but if you ask or with the help of some road maps, it would be easier.

    Third possibility: from Northexpressway, you take the Sta. Rita Exit (?) going to Plaridel, Baliuag and Angat then go back and proceed to Guiguinto then to Malolos, etc. Also, you can start at Meycauayan and go up to Malolos. You’ll visit lots of beautiful churches.

  6. Hi! were planning to go to bulacan for our visita iglesia, i just want to know whats the best and practical route to take? well be coming from manila, we want to maximize our time and resources as well, what would be the best time to start? hows the traffic during maundy thursday? Many thanks!

  7. Joel, you actually have three routes to use: Northexpress way, via Meycauayan and via Monumento. The first is the most practical and fast. Check my previous comment above re this route.

    I think it would be better to go there early morning as Maundy Thursday is still travel time for many people going back to the provinces.

    By the way, if you’ll be in Malolos, do check out the ensaymada and various kakanins there 🙂

  8. Hello. We are going to attend an Easter Mass tomorrow, somewhere in Bulacan (most likely at San Miguel Church), since we are proceeding to Nueva Ecija afterwards, Do you know what is the mass schedule in San Miguel Church in the morning?

    Thank you very much.

  9. Hi can you please give me the directions (easiest and fastest) going to obando church, ill be coming from makati city…thank you very much

  10. Dear Estan,

    I would take this as Divine Intervention to me. I am a devouted conservative Roman Catholic and I just to do my Visita Iglesia in Metro Manila. Doing it annually was a struggle for me as its crowded here in the Metro. I read about the Laguna Loop and did it for the very first time last Holy Week. I was amazed and fell inlove with the old churches- its history as well as its baroque architectural designs. Since then on, I tried to visit the rest as long as my strength and budget can meet.

    I read about your article in the Sunday Daily Inquirer and I am impressed.

    I am a lady and still single and I love travelling and photography. You are an inspiration and thank you so much…

    Good luck and God bless…

    Maryjane Girlie D.C. Sevilla

  11. I want to travel! To explore!I want to do a voyage in my life!To see the past and how they bring to this modern,the old churches that gives you inspire,my dream is to touch them with my eye.+639266395808

  12. hello, just an inquiry, can you give me the names of churches, mosques or any place of worship that are located at guiguinto, bulacan, please include also the addresses, tnx po

  13. Hi Estan

    With regards to the photo associated with entry #12 …

    is this the Santa Isabel de Ungria Church that is also in Malolos?

    Thanks for any advice.


  14. Pingback: » Visita iglesia: Bulacan, Manila, Cebu, Capiz | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels

  15. You missed out Meycauayan, the oldest stone Church built by the Franciscans. St. Francis of Assisi Church. Aside from it’s current site the original church the oldest stone church in the Philippines can still be seen previously called Lagolo now called Malhacan Chapel, it’s name derived from Nino Jesus de Malhacat from Spain.

  16. Thnx Gilbert, i still have to complete the Bulacan churches when I come back to Manila.

  17. Gaganda talaga ng mga churches sa Bulacan. I went to the Marilao chuch recently during a visit to that town with relatives. I’ve been to that church a few times. I have to admit, they have an amazing altar…

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