Get your fix of Filipino faith tourism during Lent

Philippines

Worshipers stand in a congregation in a Filipino church. Source: Shutterstock

THE RELIGIOUS festival of Lent is well underway. People around the world have spent the last month refusing temptation by giving up certain food and other luxury treats in honor of Jesus, who according to the bible, suffered in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights while starting his ministry.

Lent is often a time of reflection and appreciation for what you have. It also a time to admire the buildings, traditions, and activities that give religion a home and keep it thriving.

As the Philippines is one of the world’s most religious countries, the Department of Tourism (DOT) in the Philippines is pushing the trend of faith tourism this Lent season to create awareness around the festivities across the archipelago.

Home to a host of beautiful churches and shrines around the country, Philippines’ DOT is hoping to engage tourists in activities that don’t revolve around beaches and partying.

“The DOT is poised to go full swing on piloting emerging faith tourism destinations this year, highlighting festivals and various Filipino traditions that will encompass a holistic pilgrimage experience,” Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo told Philstar.

Among the significant places to visit during this festive period are Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan.

Ilocos Norte can be found with striking coastlines and lush green flora in the northwestern point in the Ilocos region.

Paoay Church is one of the most significant churches in the Philippines known for its beautiful design and sturdy architecture which has withstood earthquakes since the 18th  century.

In addition to urging tourists to go and admire the historic buildings across the islands, DOT has also created packages highlighting religious excursions in the Cagayan Valley.

Every year the Visita Iglesia – Seven Churches Visitation – tradition takes place in the Cagayan Valley, where religious believers visit seven different churches on either Maundy Thursday or Good Friday.

It is quite the spectacle to witness as some festival goers carry crosses from church to church and often recite each of the 14 stations at each stop.

It is a truly an immersive and unique experience to get involved in.

DOT has put huge efforts into trying to entice tourists, compared to last year when only two churches were open and the events surrounding Lent went unpublicized.

This year, the Manila Cathedral will also be open for worshippers as well as tourists and a suspected 500,000 tourists are expected to visit Manila’s walled city this coming Holy Week.