Saturday, March 12, 2016


The APEC hosting in Manila (Nov. 18-19, 2015) wrought havoc to the ordinary life in the city. From November 16, Monday until Nov. 20 several  flights were canceled to give way to the incoming dignitaries from the 21 member countries. Classes were suspended from Tuesday to Friday and likewise government offices were closed. Private corporations were asked to declare holidays  on Nov. 18-19. Since many roads in Manila were closed  to traffic, many took the opportunity to get out of Manila to avoid the inconvenience.  Going south of Manila was not a good option since  many roads were closed as they were near the airport. Hence many went up north to spend the holidays.

I decided to take the opportunity to travel to Zambales not only to visit the churches but also to get to the beaches,  especially Nagsasa and Anawangin coves,  the beaches of which were created from the ashfall of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991. There were six of us on this trip. I decided not to visit the only city of Zambales, Olongapo, the southernmost territory of Zambales, since I have been there already in a previous visit to the Subic Bay Complex.  In this trip then we would be visiting the thirteen towns which comprise the  province of Zambales starting from the southernmost town of Subic to Santa Cruz,  the northernmost town of the province.  We left Manila at six in the morning. After a brief stopover for breakfast in one of the rest areas along NLEX we arrived at our first destination, the town of  Subic at 9:30 in the morning.

      1.   St. James Parish Church, Subic, Zambales. Founded 1607.

Although the parish was founded in 1607, the church had rather a modern structure. Dedicated to St. James, the Apostle, the church had a simple altar with the statue of the Risen Christ behind a cross and mounted on a  stained glass window design as background  (it was rather made of fiber glass) with the images of the Holy Trinity and St. James the Apostle with a base which looked like two hands or a chalice with the images of two angels. The statue of St. James mounted on a horse fighting  the Moors was on the right side facing the altar.

The facade of the church of Subic has a modern look with the statue of St. James the Apostle on the niche above the main door.

The resurrected Christ with a cross behind Him is mounted on a stained glass background depicting the Holy Trinity and St. James with a base of two angels which forms also like a hand .

Church interior

The statue of St. James  the Apostle mounted on a horse fighting the Moors is on one side of the altar.

2. San Nicholas de Tolentino Parish Church, Castillejos, Zambales, Founded 1865

The next church we visited was the St. Nicolas de Tolentino Parish Church of Castillejos. Castillejos was founded sometime in the middle of the 18th century. Its creation took place in 1743 while that of Subic in 1769. The seniority of Castillejos over Subic is quite interesting in view of the fact that both towns were established by Tagalog families who probably came from the province of Bataan. The settlement at Subic, which is on the beach, preceded that in Castillejos, for this is situated further from Bataan some seven kilometers in the interior on the side of the mountain. Coming from the exposed position of the beach to pirates, those early families kept moving in lands towards Castillejos thereby making it grow faster than Subic. Castillejos became Pueblo in 1743, 26 years ahead of Subic.

The facade of the church with the statue of  San Nicolas de Tolentino on top of the canopy. The front of the church is filled with parked tricycles as the market is just nearby.

Church interior

Baptismal font near the altar.

The side wings of the church.

A big crucifix is in front of the altar as the retablo has the statues of St. Nicolas of Tolentino, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate of Heart of Mary in its three niches with the tabernacle in front of it. 

The municipal hall of Castillejos.

3.  St. William Parish, San Marcelino, Zambales (F-1875)

         From Castillejos, we visited  the next town of San Marcelino, the church of which is dedicated to St. William. The parish was established in 1875. San Marcelino was Christianized after the arrival of Father Guillermo and after his departure the people rightfully chose San Guillermo as their town’s patron saint.

Facade of the church of San Marcelino with its belfry serving as the porte-cochere and the statue of St. Willian on one side, 

The tabernacle was in  one of the side altars.

Church interior

The altar retablo with the crucifix on the main niche and the two side niches being flanked also by smaller niches. 

The two statues of  St. William, one found outside and the other inside the church. 

       4.    Holy Infant of Jesus Parish Church, San Antonio, Zambales (Founded: 1856)

Before noontime, we arrived at the town of San Antonio which is the jump off point for the islands of Capones and Camara and the Anawangin and Nagsasa coves.  We first paid a visit to their church which is dedicated to the Holy Infant of Jesus. We found that the front of the church was completely occupied by vendors. We were told that every Tuesdays and Fridays are the market days of the town. The front of the church which is a plaza is used for that. It was only after lunch when the place was slowly being vacated by the sellers that we were able to get a full picture of the fa├žade of the church. 

It was market day when we arrived. The front of the church which was a public plaza was occupied by vendors with pitched tents selling their wares.

Church interior facing the main door.

Church altar with a resurrected Christ. This was the trend in the 90's to have the resurrected Christ instead of just the usual crucifix. 

Holy water holder.

By noontime the  facade of the church was now getting cleared of vendors. 

 5.    St. Sebastian Church, San Narciso, Zambales, F- 1849

From San Antonio, the next town we passed by going up north was San Narciso. Originally known as “Alusiis”, San Narciso started as a small settlement founded by enterprising pioneers from Paoay, Ilocos Norte and Vigan, Ilocos Sur sometime during the 1830’s along the Kimmarayan, now Santo Tomas River, after the violent flood waters of which the place most probably have been first named: “Alusiis” means restlessness. First a barrio  then a pueblo by virtue of a royal decree promulgated in 1846 by then Gov. Gen. Narciso Claveria, in whose honor the new municipality was renamed. The town became a parish three years later in 1849. 

The municipal hall of San Narciso. 

The church facade with its twin belfry with the images of  Ina Poon Bato and St. Sebastian made of tiles mounted on it,

Church interior

A pantocrator painted on the apse

A statue on a niche by the side of the front porch of the church.

Main door from the inside. 

The other side of the front porch of the church. 

Parish convent.

A welcome arch just near the church. 

The church as seen from the plaza just behind the Welcome arch.

In one building near the church plaza were restaurants where we had our lunch.

6.      San Roque Church, San Felipe, Zambales, F-1859

In between San Narciso and San Felipe we passed by this bridge which still had a wide expanse of lahar. 

This is the lahar coming from Mt. Pinatubo  that could be seen from the Zambales side.

A welcome arch to the town of San Felipe.

Just in front of the church was this Public Mall of San Felipe. 

Simple facade of the San Roque Parish Church of San Felipe.

Simple altar with just the  crucifix and the statue of San Roque. 

Church interior

All churches in Zambales had this image of St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, the founder of the Opus Dei,

Another lahar filled river in between San Felipe and Cabangan. 

7. St. Rose of Lima Parish Church, Cabangan, Zambales, F-1856

St. Rose of Lima Parish Church. 

The church was closed when we arrived and there was no one in the convento who answered our calls. So I contented myself at taking pictures of the inside of the church from the windows. From a simple facade I was surprised to see a pink-painted interior with a new altar retablo. 

The altar retablo as seen from the window of the church. 

Another lahar-filled river in between Cabangan and Botolan.

8. Sta. Monica Church,  Dambana, Danacbunga, Botolan, Zambales, F-1736

The  church facade of the St. Monica Parish Church  of Botolan with the statues of St. Augustine and St. Monica on the niches by the sides of the church.

The Sta. Monica Parochial Institute just beside the church. We found out that all the towns of Zambales had parochial schools;  thanks to the efforts of the Columbans. 

Another view of the church facade. The church is under renovation. They have taken down the roof of the church to be replaced with a new one. 

Inside the church. Construction going on.

Old wooden trusses placed on the side of the church.

A close up photo of the two statues of Sts. Augustine and Monica found on the side niches of the facade,

9. Ina Poon Bato, Loob Bunga, Botolan Zambales

A carving on the side walls of the front of the church depicting the story of the Ina Poon Bato.

Church interior.

Statue of the Ina Poon Bato.

To complement with the statue of Ina Poon Bato the church finish is made up of stones. 

10. St. Augustine Cathedral, Iba, Zambales, F-1681

The Cathedral church of Iba dedicated to St. Augustine.

Church interior.

A closer look of the altar retablo with three niches. The crucifix in the middle is with a stained glass background and the statues of Ina Poon Bato and St. Augustine  on the sides. 

The statues of the Ina Poon Bato and St. Augustine on the altar retablo.

The side altar with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

The other side altar with the statues of the  Holy Family.

A picture in front of the Cathedral with the statue of St. Augustine. 

The cathedral convento. 

The Chancery Office just beside the convento.

11.  Immaculate Conception Church, Palauig, Zambales, F-1873

Facade of the parish Church of the Immaculate Conception in Palauig.

I did not get the name of this saint with a bird on his left hand on the side altar of the church. 

Church interior. 

The altar with the statue of the  Immaculate Conception. 

12.  San Andres Parish Church, Masinloc, Zambales, F-1607

Welcome arch to the 408th Fiesta Celebration of the parish of Masinloc. 

The coral-stone facade of the church of Masinloc. This church was declared a "national cultural treasure" in 1972. 

The arched main portal of the church with a commemorative marker on the floor in front of it marking the 400 years celebration of the parish in 2007. 

Simple interiors of the church.

A closer look of the altar retablo. 

Some high school students practicing their playground demonstration in front of the church and convent. 

13.  St. Vincent Ferrer Parish Church, Candelaria, Zambales, F-1895

A modern looking facade of the church of St. Vncent Ferrer in Candelaria. 

A marble wall by the altar with the crucifix mounted in the center and the statue of St.Vincent Ferrer by the side below the crucifix.

Church interior. 
The St. Vincent's Academy, the parochial school just beside the church. 

The Central Elementary School in front of the church. 

14.  St. Michael the Archangel Parish Church, Sta. Cruz, Zambales, F-1812

The coral-stone facade of Sta. Cruz with saints' niches flanking the arched main door. The triangular pediment above has a niche with the patron of the parish, St. Michael Archangel. The church is surrounded by the parochial school, hence the front of the church already serves as the parade/sports grounds of the school. The town of Sta. Cruz is the last town in the northern part of Zambales. 

Church altar.

A closer look of the altar retablo with the Crucifix as its centerpiece flanked by the Blessed Virgin and St. John. Below it are bas reliefs  of St. Michael the Archangel and two angels besides it.

Church interior. The new floorings are made of thick granite.

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