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For confused Catholics who desperately need to go to the beach rest but also feel a little guilty for doing so, here’s a compromise that will make the cool kids and their devout lolas happy: How about you make a Visita Iglesia out of the actual trip? Uh huh, as in stop by churches on the way to the beach.

Take La Union for instance. Apart from a really cool beach scene, the road to it is lined with places of worship. It may take your trip a little longer, but at least you won’t have that nagging conscience bothering you as you work on your tan.

1.  The Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag (Manaoag, Pangasinan)

The Manaog Parish in Pangasinan is quite possibly the most famous church on the way to La Union. Just a few minutes away after you exited T-PLEX, the popular place of pilgrimage also has a rosary garden behind the church for those want to be surrounded by nature while praying.

The Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag

 

ON PHOTO: The Lady of Manaoag in the candle lighting chambers behind the church (left) and another Lady of Manaoag wooden sculpture, carved on a tree trunk (right).

 

Rosary Garden just behind the church

 

2. Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Charity (Agoo, La Union)

Two reasons to make the Agoo Basilica a pitstop: (1) to check out the paintings inside the church, which are said have human subjects resembling the former President Marcos and his first lady Imelda Marcos and (2) to check out the underground museum behind the altar, where you can find the remains of one of Marcos’s cabinet members Jose D. Aspiras as well as former archbishop of Lingayen, Mariano A. Madriaga. That’s not mentioning praying (duh) and if it’s your first time, the three wishes a first visit affords.

Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Charity Interior

 

“The Dedication of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity” (Rev. B. Gimeno, 1979)

 

“The Second Coming of Christ” (Rev. B. Gimeno, 1978)

 

Jose D. Aspiras (former cabinet member of Marcos)

 

Holy Relics of Saints exhibit

 

 

3.  St. William the Hermit Cathedral Parish (San Fernando, La Union)

It’s funny to have the St. William the Hermit Parish right smack in the middle of the city, no? But that’s where it is: right smack in the middle of San Fernando in La Union, near the market and everything else. Its location allows tourists and visitors to pass by the market, where they can get over pasalubong shopping already so it’s a complete R&R upon hitting the beach.

St. William the Hermit Cathedral Parish Interior

 

4. Ma-Cho Temple (San Fernando, La Union)

Since you’re busy being religious, might as well drop by a buddhist temple. Located at San Fernando, La Union, the Ma-Cho temple is open to visitors, worshippers and non-worshippers alike. Its intricate architectural structure will wow you, maybe even move you to offer incense sticks to Mazu, which is at the main altar of the temple.

Ma-Cho Temple (Virgin of Caysasay) Entrance

 

Ma-Cho Temple Exterior

 

Ma-Cho Temple Exterior from 2nd Floor

 

The 8-inch image of Mazu (goddess) (Ma-Cho) in the altar

 

5.  The Shrine of Our Lady of Namacpacan (Luna, La Union)

The St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish, aka Namacpacan Church is known for its miracle water, which devotees believe can heal their ailments. Outside the church, behind the altar is the water pump where the miracle water comes from. Bring an empty bottle and help yourself; even a gallon is allowed!

The Shrine of Our Lady of Namacpacan Exterior

 

The Lady of Namacpacan Church Interior

 

The image of the Our Lady of Namacpacan

 

Man pumping out the miracle water

 

BONUS:

If all that made you want to explore more of La Union, here are two more places you might want to check out

1. Bahay na Bato (Open Art Gallery in Luna, La Union)

It’s an art exhibit of rock sculptures because, why not?

 

2.  Mga Bantayan ng La Union (Luna, La Union)

The watchtower that was split in half due to typhoons is now fully restored and open for public viewing. There are also kids selling little colorful sea pebbles for P70-100.

Baluarte: Mga Bantayan ng La Union (Luna, La Union)

 

Photos by: Madel Crudo

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