I’ve never experienced a Visita Iglesia during Holy Week because since time immemorial, I’m off to our silent retreat by Holy Thursday into the hills of Angono, Rizal. Lately, however, we’ve been commencing our lenten exercise after lunch of Thursday so when the opportunity to run while visiting 14 churches came, I knew I had to finally experience this unique Catholic ritual. And it was being spearheaded by Team Boring so imagine our surprise when Keshia and I arrived at Mcdonald’s near MOA filled with running netizens of every color and shape.
When we started the run we had reached almost 30, some were not even Catholics. But they were in it for the spiritual journey which many times would move quite fast like a real race with many imagining podium aspirations. The 14 churches represented the 14 Stations of the Cross of Christ’s Passion leading into His Resurrection (the new 14th station). We started by 5 am at the MOA church and ended at the Binondo Church before 10 am. Boringer Gab along with some of the ANR-MOA runners planned and led the assault in the various churches which were sometimes closed.
Along the way, we moved parallel to Roxas Blvd. (Mabini St. & Taft Ave.), passing the Rizal Memorial Stadium and Manila Zoo with a major stopover inside Intramuros. We continued towards Legarda St. and Ayala bridge entering the Malacanang palace area into Mendiola and a minor street parallel to Recto Ave. We emerged into Quezon Ave. and took the Quiapo underpass then advanced into Ongpin St. and finally Chinatown where we had our fill of genuine chinese delicacies at Hwa Ying (along Buenavidez St.) upon the suggestion of Jason King Tan. Many of us savored the Beef Wanton mami and the steamed tofu – a worthy reward for all that morning’s efforts.
The Visita was a chance to somehow go through Christ’s experiences into Calvary that Lenten week. It was also an opportunity to traverse the streets of Manila with minimal vehicles and people. And take in the colorful scenes – pilgrims walking on foot, flagellants bleeding themselves to death and the incomparable character of Manila’s churches and streets. While others visited the churches via car or bicycle, we went through it the best and basic way possible – by foot. Our mileage registered at 21 kms. Not bad to start the Holy Week…
Here’s the list of churches we visited. Try it for one memorable Holy Week. MOA – Holy Angels – Malate – San Isidro – Assumption – Ermita – San Agustin – Manila Cathedral – San Miguel – St. Jude – San Beda – San Sebastian – Quiapo – Binondo
Later that day, I headed out to Angono, Rizal where I joined a silent retreat at the Loyola Retreat House. For us who’ve been doing this for more than 20 years, the silence and isolation can be most refreshing and revitalizing for the spirit. Every afternoon we joined the people of Angono to join in their traditional Lenten celebrations. I espied my running buddy Dave and his family during the Good Friday mass. During the retreat, I was also able to fit in 2 morning runs on Friday & Saturday – a good 7 kms. of uphills, descents and trails per session.