Lakbay Norte 2: Destination Pampanga and Bulacan

Bacolor and Betis Church

The Bacolor and Betis churches in Pampanga are two of the most well known and visited churches in the province. They are known for different reasons.

Bacolor Church
Bacolor Church


San Guillermo Parish Church of Bacolor is known as the church that was half-buried in lahar after Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption. The church is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines and features baroque architecture. After the eruption, the people of Bacolor carefully excavated the altar and retablo (that ornate thingie behind the altar), restored the church back to its former glory, even if it’s 6 meters shorter.

Lakbay Norte 2
Betis Church

Betis Church in Guagua, Pampanga is unimpressive from the outside. If you grew up surrounded by churches, you probably won’t be impressed upon laying eyes on its exterior. However, the true beauty of the Betis Church lays within. As soon as I stepped inside the church, I realize why they call this the Sistine Chapel of the Philippines.

Lakbay Norte 2
Betis Church altar, retablo and ceiling

Finely detailed paintings adorn every inch of the ceiling. We walked slowly down the aisle, eyes wide in wonder as scenes from the Bible greet us from each gilded frame.

Atching Lilliane

Continuing with the heritage theme of the day’s itinerary, we had lunch at Atching Lilliane Borromeo’s house. A food historian, Atching Lilliane is a part of history: she hails from a family who has been making San Nicholas cookies for generations. She even has 400-year old molds to prove it.

Atching Lilliane's
Buffet spread at Atching Lillian’s

Lunch was a buffet of traditional Campampangan dishes, which of course, includes batute (stuffed frog)

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San Miguel, Bulacan

Before heading back to Manila, we had to make one last province hop: Bulacan. Our first destination in Bulacan was San Miguel, a municipality without any shortage of heritage buildings. We went inside the St. Michael the Archangel Parish Church and crossed over to the town hall, a heritage treasure itself to meet with the town’s tourism officials.

Mossessgeld House
Santiago house

We piled back into the bus for a rolling tour through San Miguel’s equivalent to Vigan’s Calle Crisologo. Heritage buffs went crazy with their cameras as we passed houses showcasing the fine craftsmanship of the locals.

Biak na Bato

Biak na Bato
UIvan taking a picture of Ivan at the entrance of the.. batcave.

There was one last taste of adventure before we end the first leg of Lakbay Norte 2. Biak-na-bato National Park is both an ecological and historical site. The hideout of the revolutionary forces during the Spanish period is now a place where people can get their own adventure (though probably not as exciting as Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s adventures in the area). Visitors can hike and explore caves that are now inhabited by bats, not Katipuneros.

Article by Nina Fuentes

Nina doesn't aim to travel to every country in the world -- she just wants to travel to the places that means the most to her. She started traveling in 2006, and hopes to travel for as long as she can. Her travel blog, Just Wandering won the Best Travel Blog in the 2010 Philippine Blog Awards and in the 2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards.

This Article Has 13 Comments
  1. Pinasok nyo pa ba mga caves sa Biak na Bato, yung malapit sa tulay sa dulo nung park?

  2. This site is great, keep up the good work.

  3. pusangkalye says:

    we went to Apalit Pampanga last month and Apalit church really surprised me. I have always thought Pampanga is a young province and therefore never expected to see old and historic churches—-very beautiful at that. These churches ads to the list.

  4. The church is absolutely beautiful…even if it’s six meters shorter 🙂

  5. Kat March says:

    I was in Pampanga a couple of weeks ago. Sadly wasn’t able to visit such places. And even missed out on the Hot Air Balloon Festival…

  6. ang ganda ng mga church Nina, d ko alam yan. sana makarating din ako jan. 🙂

  7. neldeleon says:

    I never really wandered in Bulacan and Pampanga even if my paternal grandparents are from those provinces. Now, your blog post is like an invitation. 🙂

  8. that betis church looks extravagant!

  9. Miyuki Asami says:

    Hi I am Miyuki Asami, HRM student from the Lycuem of the Philippines University Manila.My partner and I are looking for online respondents for our research study which is about the traditional cooking of Atching Lillian Borromeo in Mexico, Pampanga.We saw your blog and pictures at Atching Lillian’s place. I would like to ask if you are willing to answer our survey questionnaire? I am hoping for your response. Thank you

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