Pangasinan is a go-to summer destination for both locals and tourists. The province is famous for its pristine waterfalls, islands, and beaches overlooking the West Philippine Sea. It is also perfect for tourists who want to explore and devour tempting local cuisine.
But these are just a few reasons why you should add Pangasinan to your bucket list. This humble province is not only bounded by the picturesque horizon and natural wonders. It also offers rich culture and diverse traditions blended through the years of colonialism. Here, you can find numerous Spanish-era Roman Catholic Churches and captivating pilgrimage sites that will surely hearten your spiritual life. Here are our top seven churches that you should include in your Visita Iglesia in Pangasinan.
Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag
Located in Manaoag, Pangasinan is The Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag, or simply called Manaoag Church. It is the highest-rated destination in the country for Catholic tourists all over the world. According to the Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office, about 9 million tourists visited the province last 2018, and 7 million of them visited Manaoag Church. The church is only 16 minutes away from Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway or TPLEX, Binalonan Exit.
It was built in the 17th century and is believed to be miraculous. One local farmer saw the Virgin Mary’s apparition at the pilgrimage site. During World War II, one of the several bombs that the Japanese dropped in the area did not go off and left the ivory statue unharmed. Because of these miracles, thousands of people come rushing to this site all year round. There are also wishing fountains, candle lighting, faucets of holy water, and relics outside and can also be bought inside. You can also get these objects and even your vehicles blessed after the holy mass.
Parish of Saint Fabian, Pope and Martyr
Founded in 1718 and was initially built in 1768, The Parish of Saint Fabian, Pope, and Martyr had undergone different restoration stages throughout the century. It was first restored in 1856 after a fire incident that started from a cigarette-end which was thoughtlessly thrown on its nipa roofing. While in 1955, the church went through its last major restoration.
The Parish of Saint Fabian, Pope, and Martyr is located in San Fabian, Pangasinan. The church and the town were named in respect of a crusading Pope, St. Fabian, who led the Roman Catholic Church throughout the sovereignty of the Roman Emperor Dictus for nearly 13 years.
The church is located only a few minutes away from San Fabian’s soft-sand beach. It serves as an enjoyable side trip that you can also add to your itinerary.
St. Thomas Aquinas Parish Church
St. Thomas Aquinas Parish Church is located in Mangaldan, Pangasinan, one of the province’s historic old towns. Based on ancient documents, this church was the third parish established by Dominican missionaries and was attributed to the blessed Fr. Juan Sto. Domingo.
Around 1600, Mangaldan was then acquired as a new parish and was later placed under the patronage of one of the Catholic Church’s greatest theologians and philosophers, St. Thomas Aquinas.
St. Thomas Aquinas Parish Church became one of the most essential parishes of the Archdiocese. The construction of the 6th and current church in Mangaldan happened in 1942, which then laid the foundation for devotees to build up their faith and spiritual beliefs. At present, the Dominican missionaries have enhanced the parish to give the locals a place for devotions and reflection.
St. John the Evangelist Cathedral
This Metropolitan Cathedral belongs to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. It is located within the business district of the City of Dagupan in Pangasinan. The Archbishop’s House and the St. John’s Cathedral School can also be found near the cathedral. It was recently renovated in 2018, where they replaced the old stained glass and added stunning paintings on the high ceiling.
Dagupan City is known for its reputable schools and universities. This is why foreign students are attracted to live here. Because of this, you will see diverse nationalities coming to the cathedral to pray and worship, and it’s a good thing that the church service is frequently arranged in the English language. So not only locals can appreciate the holy mass but also foreigners and even tourists from other provinces.
Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Church
Among all the churches listed here, Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Church in Calasiao, Pangasinan, is my personal favorite. It flaunts its red and brick color rather than the usual flattering paintings on the ceiling. Aside from the grand antique wooden door, it also welcomes you with a very long carpet that will lead you to its distinct main altar. The latter being the main attraction of this Spanish-colonial-era church.
It was between the 17th and 19th century when this baroque church was erected but was founded earlier in 1588. During the past years, minor restoration has been done to alter the effects of natural calamities and man-made damages. Regardless of its age, this church was never fully renovated, preserving its timeless beauty up to this moment. The National Museum of the Philippines and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts declared Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Church as a National Cultural Treasure.
Holy Family Parish Church
The Church is adorned with outer brick walls at the side and adjacent long convent, while its main altar is made of stained glass. Graced with a tranquil atmosphere ideal for prayer and meditation, this church is located at the heart of the province, Sta. Barbara.
Holy Family Parish was founded in 1588 and was built in 1716, making it one of the oldest churches in Pangasinan. The church is also a part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan.
When the town experienced a devastating typhoon in 1887, locals started a campaign entitled Guardians of the Family. This aimed to renovate and reconstruct the parish church after being left with a damaged roof. The convent, as well as the surroundings of the church, was also renovated under the campaign. Further enhancements in 2005 include the two new side altars in the church, the new parish Office, the new parish hall, the new sacristy, the new parish grotto of Our Lady of Manaoag, the garden of the cross, chapel of devotion, and rosary garden, villa familia, and the choir loft.
Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Cathedral
Based on records, the town Urdaneta was named after a priest, Andres de Urdaneta. During the days, the town was still young and is just starting to grow in population. In the 17th century, more people from the neighboring provinces like La Union and Ilocos came to this town to establish their residence. Subsequently, a chapel was then built in the area.
It was initially constructed with a single slope roofing and a small structure similar to huts. It was 1863 when the Dominicans recognized it as a parish. The construction of the first church in Urdaneta was completed in 1884; however, during World War II in 1945, the church was heavily damaged by the American bombings. The ruins were then transformed and paved the way for the community’s newly established high school.
His Holiness Pope John Paul II issued two decrees called the papal bull, De Superna Animarum, and Non-Raro Catholicorum on January 12, 1985, which then directed the Diocese’s construction of Urdaneta. The Immaculate Conception Parish became the Seat of the Diocese of Urdaneta and is now called the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.
In due course, Urdaneta City has grown progressively in terms of religion and economy. It has an urbanization level of 68.61% and has been identified as a province’s growth pole. The city was also recognized as one of the region’s cleanest, greenest, and most livable cities. This is why it is not surprising to see various industry players interested in the city’s thriving potential. One of which is the country’s favorite and trusted home builder with the broadest geographic reach, Camella.
Featuring its safe and healthy homes, Camella indeed associated its offerings with the city’s mission of promoting a healthy and safe environment. And did you know that the healthiest master planned community in the North will soon rise in Urdaneta City? Yes, Camella Crisciente is only an 8-minute drive to Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Cathedral and a 20-minute drive to Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag.
So these are the top 7 must-visit churches in Pangasinan that you should include in your next Visita Iglesia. Whether you are in for the sea, nature, or serene pilgrimage sites and churches, Pangasinan definitely has it all!
During these difficult times, the threat of COVID-19 has forced us to stay at home, canceling all our plans, including the Holy Week. Before heading to your Visita Iglesia, be sure to check with the IATF or the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force for the latest updates, restrictions, and requirements that may affect your plans. Be sure to follow the health and safety guidelines implemented in your origin and destination. Of course, you can still pray and meditate at the comfort of your home. Most churches nowadays offer an online broadcast of mass services, so you would not need to take the risk of going outside. Have a safe Holy Week celebration.