Living in a predominantly Catholic country, we Filipinos have all sorts of traditions that happen around the 40-day-long season called Lent, and especially around the end period of Holy Week. One of them is the visita Iglesia, which literally translates to “church visit,” and it intertwines frequently with the via crucis or “Way of the Cross.” The idea is to visit a church on Maundy Thursday, then pray the fourteen Stations of the Cross which commemorate Jesus Christ’s judgment, humiliation, death, and interment.
People being people, it’s evolved somewhat from this basic premise. First was to divvy up the fourteen Stations of the Cross across multiple churches – most frequently, praying at two stations over seven different churches. As the title of this post might suggest, one of the other changes to this formula is to do the visits by bike. With Holy Week almost unfailingly falling under the hot, dry summer, the Bisikleta Iglesia has become a favorite Lenten pilgrimage for Filipino cyclists.
I was looking for a first morning long ride after more than two years of riding under relative isolation, so I invited my friend Manny Illana. He brought along two of his own buddies, Edison Dungo and Jojo Salvan, and just like that, we were a party of four.
Ours was a rather compact route, going through as many churches and landmarks as possible within a short distance. Just as well, as the cool morning breeze went away by 9 am and the sun proceeded to cook us all in dehydrating heat. Our relatively low speeds and multiple forced dismounts didn’t help ventilation much either. All in, we passed nine churches over 30 km before we had lunch at Pancake House and I had to split off.
I could write at length about our trip, but Manny brought his GoPro – and some nice shooting and editing skills – along with him on the ride. I’ll let him do the talking on this one, as pictures and video speak a million words.