Keeping with our Good Friday tradition.

It was hot, and the queue was long. People shielded themselves from the sun with colorful umbrellas. They fanned themselves for much needed air with anahaw and abaniko. And they sipped water from plastic containers every now and then.

What could have made them stay in line? I did, with Jean and Tish, though the heat was tremendous. But for me and my daughters, perhaps it was out of curiosity. I found out later, when we were inside the tiny cave, that there was an image of the Santong Entierro, and the people lined up to get to touch the glass menageriie wherein our Lord lie in state. People threw coins to make wishes, in a pond below. I emptied my coin purse, too, for I had many wishes.

That was at Marilao, Bulacan, at the Shrine of the Divine Mercy, where people endure the heat so their prayers and wishes will be granted. The people were the poor, so I prayed for their prayers, aside from mine.

Visita Iglesia is tradition for me and my daughters. We had been at this Good Friday activity ever since they were born. We had been to many churches, near and far, making three wishes every time we set foot on a new one, and still, we marvel at churches, new and old, and admire both the locals and the visitors, for the former preserve their tradition, and the guests come to add up to the feeling of being one, in the passion of our Lord.

The Shrine of the Divine Mercy was petite, well decorated with lovely white flowers, but obviously, the devotees who strove to put up the Shrine must have started with not much money, for the Shrine could only hold a number, and so a huge ground beside the Shrine was constructed, to accommodate pilgrims. Let this not impede you from coming, for there is another cave that spring healing water. Bring a bottle, if you need the miraculous water.

My daughters and I discovered Our Lady of the Assumption right along Mindanao Avenue. The church was cool, not much visitors yet, but one I would likely visit again.

Sto. Domingo was, as always, packed, and as in every year, the television crew was there to capture the thoughts on the Seven Last Words.

The UST Chapel was, again, quiet and subdued. No activity in this old university praying place, but amazingly, families include this in their itinerary every Good Friday.

Another scholastic chapel is St. Jude. The long walk along Mendiola towards St. Jude was not as becoming, for the litters scatter all over, not a sight to behold. Yet, once inside the chapel, the prayer mood changeth whatever it was outside…

Manila Cathedral was restored to its former beauty. The air conditioned Basilica de Imaculada Concepcion was filled with devotees. Some made the marble floor right at the foot of the church their beds.

Last stop, San Agustin, a walk away from the Manila Cathedral, and arguably the best interior among Philippine Churches. This church actually brings the guests back in time, when Intramuros was the heart of faith and society.

It was our longest Visita Iglesia, for at San Agustin, the clock struck 3, the hour of great mercy. So we knelt and prayed.

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