The Last Weekend, Part 1: Saturday Stories (In which we travel to Pampanga and back on a three-stop roadtrip...and a movie!)

October 4, 2008.
No nitty-gritty details, no itinerary. All I had was a wishlist - of places to go, things to see, food to eat - and a ticking clock on the last weekend before I was assigned back to Manila for work. On the surface, this meant that I had to move out of the place I had rented in Pampanga and that, after the weekend, I would need to return my car and once again depend on public transportation to get around (and I wasn't looking forward to it).

But what it all really, truly meant was that after five exciting and memorable months, it was time for me to write on that final page destined for fabled farewells, so that I could say "so long" to the life I lived as a sales trainee in South and North Luzon, and settle back into the life of a cube-dweller in Manila.

Needless to say, I was set on making an adventure of that Last Weekend.

Fortunately I had two friends, Edell and Mabz, who were willing to join my thinly-planned trip. And on Saturday, we left Manila and took a drive north to Pampanga. On top of moving out of my apartment there, three other things were on my To Do list:

1. Visit Bacolor Church, half-buried due to the Mt. Pinatubo eruption of 1991.
2. Visit Betis Church, also known as "The Sistine Chapel of the Philippines" because of the beautiful paintings found in its interior.
3. Try Aling Lucing's famous sisig!

I knew that Bacolor Church was in, well, Bacolor, and Betis Church was in, well, Betis, and I could accurately pinpoint where these towns were in the Luzon map I had bought a few months prior. I figured that was enough. One could always ask for directions. And it was a Saturday! The laziest day of the week! I didn't want a strict itinerary on the laziest, supposedly most unstructured day of the week!

If my two friends were disconcerted at the prospect of driving into a strange town knowing nothing else but its name, they didn't show it. I suppose they knew me well enough and had grown accustomed to my randomness and minimalist planning style. They are friends for keeps.

Bacolor Church

Our first stop was Bacolor Church. From the North Luzon Expressway, we took the San Fernando exit and inside San Fernando drove along the main road, familiar to me because of my many route rides in the area a few weeks prior. We found the rode that led to Bacolor and once within the town, started to ask around for the specific location of the half-buried church. It took a number of instructions from various people and a few u-turns before we finally got to our destination.

Also known as San Guillermo Church and the Nuestra Senora del Santissimo Rosario, the Bacolor Church is a baroque-style church built in 1576. In 1991, the Mt. Pinatubo eruption buried half of the Bacolor Church in mud and lahar.

Since then, the interior of the church has been renovated. From the inside, it has the customary look of a typical church in the Philippines, save for the half-circle windows found along the side of the interior that look out to essentially nothing but the ground - they were obviously windows meant to be placed at much greater heights. From the outside, however, it isn’t hard to notice the apparent squatness of the church, hinting at the depth upon which it was buried.

Betis Church

Our next stop was Betis Church, in Betis, Guagua. I had been to other parts of Guagua a few times prior but never to Betis, but with the map, a bit more of asking around and looking for road signs, we managed to find ourselves in what is supposed to be known as "The Sistine Chapel of the Philippines".

And Betis Church didn't disappoint. The paintings inside the church were pretty impressive. My favorite (and Mabelle is with me on this) would probably have to be the angels singing in a choir - I remember inheriting a Bible Stories book from my mom (she or one of her siblings had owned it since they were children!) with similar-looking illustrations. We spent a considerable amount of time just staring up at the ceiling, in awe of the paintings.

There was also a museum beside Betis Church, so we checked that out as well. It was mainly of paintings and statues and pictures of the priests of Betis Church over the years.

Catch Part 2 of The Last Weekend: Saturday Stories, coming soon!

Some pictures by Mabelle Reynaldo. Thanks dude!


resident_nutty said...

no prob with the pics daene! i had fun that saturday! thank god for the gas station attendants! hahahha

Daene | Filipina in Flip Flops said...

Mabz! I did too! We should totally do it again, this time South Luzon? I know this place we should visit! I really hope I get another car soon! :)

resident_nutty said...

oh yeah, definitely, i'll go to any roadtrip (planned or otherwise)...sana nga magka-car ka na! (asa pa ko on my end, LOL)

John-D Borra said...

Aling Lucing's! I hope you have pictures! :-)

Daene | Filipina in Flip Flops said...

Hey Mr. Borra! Indeed I have pictures! We also bought Galan's Chicharon before we went to Aling Lucing's. It was definitely a heart attack-inducing roadtrip! lol.

Isis said...

This gave me an idea for my birthday this year...which happens to be on Oct. 4. :D

Anonymous said...

Please do check this out:


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