San Fernando, Pampanga—The annual observance of Holy Week in Pampanga continues to attract more pilgrims visiting centuries-old churches in the province.
The pilgrims, on board 10 to 15 tourist buses and coaches a day, have flocked to churches in the towns of Lubao, San Fernando, Sta. Rita, Guagua, Minalin, Bacolor, and Angeles City, among others.
Previously, the pilgrims only visited the churches on weekend, but now do it almost every day, causing traffic in this already-congested city and streets throughout the province, officials said.
Meanwhile, over 5,000 policemen were deployed to the different cities and municipalities in Central Luzon to provide security and manage traffic during the observance of the Holy Week in the region.
Brigadier General Joel Napoleon Coronel, regional director of the Police Regional Office 3, said a total of 5,215 policemen were deployed effective March 25 and will last up to June.
Called “Sum-Vac 2019,” the annual program aims to ensure the safety and security of motorists and commuters during the Lenten Season from April 14 to 20, Coronel said.
He also ordered intensified foot and mobile patrols and the establishment of police assistance desks and help centers in the region’s convergence points such as bus terminals, airports, recreational areas, highways, main thoroughfares, and crime-prone areas.
Coronel ordered his men to coordinate with local government units, non government organizations, volunteers groups, and other organizations operating in the region for the safety of people.
The favourite church of pilgrims from Metro Manila and other provinces in Luzon is the century-old church of San Guillermo Parish in Bacolor.
Established by Augustinians Friars in 1576, the church was partially damaged and buried by 20 feet deep lahar and other volcanic materials when Mt.Pinatubo erupted in 1993.
The Neo-classical Metropolitan Cathedral in San Fernando also attract several pilgrims specially during weekend.
The seat of the Archdiocese of San Fernando was built by Architect Fernando Ocampo in 1948.
Tourists also visit old houses along V. Tiomico St. near the cathedral.
Others destinations of pilgrims are the Baroque-inspired church of St. James Apostle. also called Betis Church. which was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines and the National Commission for Culture and Arts.
Betis is the largest among the 31 barangays of Guagua and the centre of the woodcarving industry of the province.
Also in Guagua is the Immaculate Conception Church located along Plaza Burgos, built in the 17th century in Baroque style church.
Another is the San Agustin church in San Nicolas 1st District in Lubao. The 17th century Neo-classical church was built with Spanish-era stone and brick was also declared by the National Museum of the Philippines as one of the “Important Cultural Properties of the Philippines”.
Located in barangay Lourdes in Angeles City is the Apung Macalulu Shrine. This a popular pilgrimage site not only during Holy Week but also during ordinary days because this is where the Santo Entierro is enshrined and mass is held every Friday.
The Sto. Rosario church located in Culiat is the most distinguishable landmark in Angeles City because it was built by the people from 1877 to 1896.
The Holy Week celebration in Pampanga will be culminated by the reenactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ during good Friday.
The crucifixion attracts tourists both foreign and local and is held at barangay Cutud in the City if San Fernando.